Our mamas sure do have a way with words.

Our Southern mamas have our best interests at heart. They know that every moment can also be a lesson, and they sure do want to teach us. Moms always have a way with words, and whether they’re shouting good Southern advice as we’re running out the door or whispering it to us in the pew at church, our mamas’ words tend to stick with us. Although, sometimes it’s not just about what a Southern mama says…it’s about how she says it.

“Don’t be ugly.”

When our Southern mamas say this, they’re not referring to our looks. This phrase is often accompanied by a tone that strikes fear in even the most grown-up of daughters. It can be loosely translated to mean “How dare you talk back to your mama?” “Straighten up right this minute,” or “Behave—or else.”

“It’ll all come out in the wash.”

When we go to mama with worried, tear-streaked faces, she has the advice we need. She reminds us that misunderstandings tend to work themselves out, and it'll all be ok in the end.

“You’ll catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.”

It’s a gentle reminder that kindness makes a difference (and can help things go your way).

“Nothin’ good ever happens after midnight.”

When we started going to parties, mama was quick to share this little fact—and she reminds us of it constantly. According to mama, an earlier curfew is always better. She’s probably right: It’s kept us out of trouble so far. 

Related: Do You Speak Southern Mama?

“Are you gonna wear hose with that?”

Mama is often more concerned with propriety than the rest of us. She’s been known to insist on hosiery for church and weddings. Because it’s, you know, the classy thing to do.

“Never look a gift horse in the mouth.”

Mama is a fan of this classic proverb. Loosely translated, it’s a reminder to be grateful when you receive a gift. A simple “thank you” suffices—and don’t you dare question it.

“Smile—it increases your face value.”

Mama borrowed this one from her favorite movie, Steel Magnolias, to remind us to turn our frowns upside down.

“It’s nothin’ that a little hairspray won’t fix.”

We’ve had our share of bad haircuts, and of course mama is the first to hear about it. This phrase is often followed by “It’ll grow out before you know it.”

“You’re gettin’ too big for your britches.”

Which means: Little lady, you’d better calm down and show your mama some respect.

“That storm’ll pass in two shakes of a cow’s tail.”

Sometimes our Southern mamas are talking about an actual storm, but usually we hear this one when she’s reassuring us that a problem will work itself out. We believe her when she promises that we’ll see it in the rearview in no time.

“Bless your heart.”

This one depends on mama’s tone. It can be cheery, exasperated, and everything in between, but no matter the situation, it’s truly a Southern mama classic.

What things does your Southern mama always tell you? Share them with us in the comments!