Responding to Our Mother’s Annoying "I Told You So’with Pride

We all know how annoying it is to hear the phrase “I told you so”, especially when it comes accompanied by a snarky tone of voice.  It triggers many feelings of anger, disappointment, embarrassment or shame, and even sadness. We tend to take it lightly when it comes from a friend or a partner, but not quite as well when it comes from our mothers. I think it’s because we’re growing up and we get to a point where we want to show our parents we’re adults. That is, smart and independent people capable of making wise decisions. (At least, that’s what we like to think.) 

When we hear that phrase, it can make us doubt ourselves and we think it proves to our parents precisely the opposite of what we were trying to prove.

And yes, our mothers are older, have more experience, and have gone through situations similar to ours. As much as we hate to admit it, they’re usually right, and saying “I told you so” is kind of like boosting their ego and pride in this whole “mother knows best” dynamic.

They tend to say it in a mad or sassy tone as if they were rubbing it in our faces. But, in their minds, I imagine it would be something like this:

And, among many emotions and reactions, I imagine we’d be something like:  

Admit it! It’s annoying to just be there not knowing what to say. We’d be there biting our tongues ‘cause, let’s be honest, that phrase is like taking a bullet straight to our pride and most of the times, we’re just not okay with that. We’re humans and our pride means something! Well, we don’t have to stay quiet anymore!

Deborah Grayson wrote an article where she gives us a few responses to this phrase depending on the attitude we want to showcase and who we want to address. Whether it be humorous, genuinely grateful, vulnerable, snarky, or corrective, I found these responses to be very helpful and quite appropriate.

If you just want to make it simpler, Deborah says that the two perfect words to respond are: “You did” as a statement or a question to make it playful because “it's a simple statement of fact. It's direct, non-defensive, clean, concise and clear.”

I think these two words are perfect, but it’s time we send a message and defend our pride. For me, standing up and responding to it would be saying something along the lines of: “You did, and I’m thankful, but your advice will guide me, and my decisions will teach me.”


Sometimes parents forget that they too were teenagers and young adults at one point in their lives, and for them to be able to say “I told you so,” they must’ve gone through experiences and learned from them, which earned them the right to say that. Well, now it’s our turn.

If you ever use this response, say it with pride; not as a means to be arrogant, stubborn or devalue your mom’s wisdom. We respond with pride because we acknowledge that our mothers are amazing human beings who want nothing but the best for us. With that same pride, we’ll walk on our own two feet, learn from the decisions we make, and humbly appreciate all the knowledge and advice they gave us, and all while finding our way and hoping they’ll be there when we mess up. 

If you‘ve made a few mistakes here and there and have been told many times “I told you so,” congratulations! You’re adulting and becoming a wiser human being. Own it with pride because you’re walking the path you’re creating for yourself.