It’s Time to Retire the Cliché “You Can Have ‘Em if You Want ‘Em” When a Stranger Compliments a Child in Front of Their Parent

It’s Time to Retire the Cliché “You Can Have ‘Em if You Want ‘Em” When a Stranger Compliments a Child in Front of Their Parent

It’s always bothered me.

To be out somewhere like the grocery store or a restaurant and see a stranger compliment a child in front of their parent:

“Oh, look at what a well-behaved little boy you got there.”


“I see a pretty little girl with her mommy. She’s just precious, isn’t she?”

Then the understandably exhausted parent jokingly responds with, “Well, you can have (him/her) if you want. You want to take them home with you?”

Of course, it’s all said in jest. And I totally personally relate to what it means to feel ready for a break, as a parent.


I simply think it’s in poor taste for a person to joke about giving their child away. Especially when the child is right there.

Though I personally have had no issues with fertility, I personally know people who do. We all do.

And it’s not a joke to them.

The right thing to do when a stranger compliments someone’s child in front of them is for the parent to immediately express acknowledgement and appreciation of having such a good child. After all, a stranger made the effort to give the child (and by default, the parent) a compliment.

Not only does it show the stranger that the exhausted parent knows how to take a compliment on their parenting skills, but it reinforces the parent’s love to their child; in front of them, among adults. Because the child needs to hear it. They need that positive verbal assurance.

I think one of my biggest psychological fears in life is for the general population to think I have poor taste.

Yes- poor taste.

People can say I’m boring, not funny, too short, balding, overweight, underweight, unintelligent, not talented, that I have a big nose or that I’m too hairy… whatever they want in a useless attempt to offend me.

But being labeled as a person indulging in poor taste is the only insult I actually fear.

The way I see it, a parent jokingly offering to give their kid away is the epitome of poor taste.

It’s time to retire the cliché of offering to give kids away to strangers.

2 thoughts on “It’s Time to Retire the Cliché “You Can Have ‘Em if You Want ‘Em” When a Stranger Compliments a Child in Front of Their Parent

  1. This one always bothered me, especially with the idea of teaching your kids stranger danger. You’re telling your kid not to talk to strangers, but then you turn around and suggest your kid goes home with a stranger? It seems against the point.

    That aside, what message does it send the kid. It’s not just about teaching the child to accept a compliment, but it’s also teaching the kid that you just don’t want them. I can’t even imagine how that must feel.


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