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The little man of the house

Posted by ESC on September 02, 2001

In Reply to: The little man of the house posted by R. Berg on September 02, 2001

: : Does anybody know the origin of the phrase "Now you are the little man of the house" (said by a mother after her divorce to her child)?

: I don't know when mothers began saying that; this kind of thing would be hard to track down. I suspect that it comes more from fiction than from real life. The corresponding cliché in Western (cowboy) movies is a new widow's speech: "Son, you're the man of the family now."

Let me tell you a story. Picture it. I am planning to get married in my sister's hometown. She scares up a minister for us. He insists my future husband and I come for a pre-wedding counseling session. During our talk, Rev. Whatsit says, "We believe there should be a head of the household and we believe it should be the man." As my husband tells the story, I stared at the minister for a beat, then said, "Well, WE aren't going to do it that way." Case closed. My take on "little man of the household" is that some people feel (or felt at one time) that a little boy is a better head of household than a grown woman.

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