Stop! Or I’ll…Dump Water On Your Head

A psychiatrist I was working with was recently talking to some families about the importance of following through with so-called “parenting-threats” you make to a child. As I listened in I thought how difficult it must be to consistently do that, especially if following through with the consequence adds an element of stress or difficulty to your situation. A quick interrogation of the Google machine turned up hundreds, if not thousands, of relevant blog posts and articles to confirm my suspicions that this was no easy feat.

Be Careful What You Say

Today I was considering that conversation and came to the conclusion that if anyone in my marriage would eventually have trouble with this, it would be my laid back and quiet husband, not me (because I’m so perfect and all). I’m the type of person who tends to be more over-bearing, outspoken and “in charge” (typically only in my own mind am I honestly in control of anything).

He’s the type of person that doesn’t say a whole lot. But, that means when he does decide to talk – you listen – because it’s either hilarious, important or absolutely ingenius (or occasionally borderline insane).

I remembered an incident from when we first started dating and realized my assessment of which of us was better at following through was apparently starkly inaccurate.


  It was Spring of 2007, we’d known each other less than a year and were cooking dinner at his house one evening. I was in an ornery mood and doing something that I’m sure was purposefully annoying and painfully asinine in the name of flirting.

As I tapped and poked him in the ribs over and over, not unlike a four year old I watched in clinic trying to provoke a reaction out of his mother, Donnie said to me,


“If you do that again I will pour this entire bottle of water on your head.”


I thought,

“There is no way he will do that. We’re in his kitchen and it would make a huge mess and it would probably make me mad. I’m his new girlfriend…nobody wants their new girlfriend mad. He totally wouldn’t do that.

So…I poked him again…right in the ribs. And…

He poured bottled water over my head…right there in the middle of his kitchen.


Right there in front of God and everyone (and by everyone I mean Aubrey, his Zambian roommate who ended up as the best man in our wedding) my boyfriend dumped 12 ounces of bottled water onto my freshly-straightened hair and stared at me with an I-warned-you-you-dummy look on his face as spring water some kid in the Andes meticulously bottled by hand (what, you mean your water doesn’t come hand-bottled from the mountains? weak sauce.) dripped down my previously dry t-shirt, rolled down my legs and splatted onto the tile floor of his rent-house.

As I stood, soaking wet, in a puddle in the middle of his kitchen I never thought that incident would come back to me in 6 years as an indicator of how trustworthy he is.


And, I can tell you one thing, now when he tells me…

“Stop or I’ll…”

…I stop.




It may seem silly or trivial, but it’s true – when people follow through on their word, even on things that are seemingly pointless (or even mean! like dumping water on your girlfriends freshly straightened hair), it builds trust.

Do you have trouble following through? Do you think this is an important aspect of gaining trust in relationships? Parents, how hard is it to consistently follow through with your kids?

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Image: Paul |

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8 Comments + Add Comment

  • I already love you, but this post makes me love you… and DRJ… even more. What a super-great-fantabulous post! I think I’ll smile the rest of the day. :)

  • It is VERY important to follow through. I wrote a post in response to your questions – check it out!

  • omg that is so funny! I once did that to my boyfriend to get him out of bed… it works. I really hope when I have kids I’m good at following through…

  • Hiyya,

    I’m new to your blog and have enjoyed everything I’ve read so far!

    Personally, as a mom, I believe following through is extremely important, but even more important is following through CONSISTENTLY. If you do so for certain things and not for others, then the inherit lesson in the process is ruined. And then you end up with a kid screaming it’s guts out at the checkout because they’ll figure out they just have to be loud and alarming enough to the general public to get that stupid ring pop.

    Or not…

    (Following through CONSISTENTLY works for adults too, because really, some are just overgrown children, no?)

  • during our recent vacation to new zealand, we stayed at a house that had “tame” eels in the stream. a couple other places we visited also had eels. you could feed them chopped-up meat bits — the eels are blind, but they have a great sense of smell.

    we couldn’t understand the appeal, until deciding that, when we’re grandparents, having eels in a stream would be a great you-better-behave threat for the grandkids — “stop it, or i’ll hoist you over the stream and let the eels nibble on your toes!”

    not something you could really employ as parents — it’s kind of hard to implement, and i’m pretty sure they’d call child services on you if you actually did — but it would be perfect for grandparents. i mean, you don’t really take seriously any threats your grandparents make, but this is just weird and creepy enough that you really don’t want it to happen, so you’ll behave just in case. =)

    • That is too funny! Sounds terrifying lol – I’m not a fan of creepy-looking sea creatures!

      When did you go to New Zealand?! And where?!

      We are going in December, I’m SO excited. Tell me all your trip suggestions and ideas! This is by far the biggest vacation we’ve ever planned, so we need all the help we can get!

  • in short: south island.

    in not-so-short: we just got back yesterday, so i’ll be blogging about it soon. stay tuned! =)

  • I am going to use this with my husband. I need to build some trust with him. Love, love, love your perspective on this.

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About The Author

I'm an ObGyn. I started this blog as a medical student (some would call that doctor school) and now I'm working as an Ob/Gyn, which is seriously the coolest job ever. I'm a twin mom and recently added a baby brudder to the mix. My life story through November 2010 can be viewed here. The events in the many years following can be summed up as wedding bells, books, exams, babies, and doctoring. I started this blog in hopes of landing a role in a Lifetime movie so I could quit medicine and move to Hollywood, but that hasn't if you wouldn't take medical advice from Angelina Jolie, you shouldn't take it from me. I may not even be a real person. In fact, I'm probably a spambot. Or possibly a 15 yo boy blogging from a dingy basement. If you're really interested you can read more about me here. If you have any questions or want to guest post contact me.

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