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.