“I hate you!” “You’re so mean!” Has your child thrown those phrases at you yet? Luckily, mine are still too young to go there, but I’m sure soon enough I’ll experience those words. And I’m sure they won’t be easy to hear. As moms, we struggle to find balance between being disciplinarians and being friends to our children. We want to set rules and enforce them, but sometimes we feel bad when our children get upset.
Well mamas, it’s time we suck it up and own the “mean mom” reputation. Because you know what? Mean moms are good moms. In fact, “mean” is probably one of the worst adjectives we can use, but I guess it stems from the fact that that’s what our children call us. They associate structure and discipline with being “mean,” when really, we do what we do out of love. So, let’s raise a
bottle glass to “mean” moms everywhere who are raising responsible, appreciative children by making moves like these.
1. You Tell Your Child “No”
Ugh. I hate when my little guy asks for snacks/treats/candy at the grocery store, because my answer is almost always “no.” It’s not that I don’t want him to have sweets sometimes, but I know what will result if I let him have some. He won’t be hungry at dinner time (which he needs to eat because it will be healthier and better for him). He’ll think that every time we go to the store, he’ll get a treat (so he’ll think he gets rewarded for joining me on shopping trips that are necessary to our family). He’ll start asking for goodies more often, and ones that are loaded with even more sugar (forming poor dietary habits). I know it can be hard, but telling our children “no” is important.
2. You Let Your Child Get Hurt
I have a habit, as I’m sure many moms do, of picking my child up the second she falls down. Even if she just takes a light tumble into a pile of pillows, I immediately run to her side, scoop her up and say, “You’re ok. Aww…you’re tough.” But our children need to learn to fall without us helping them up. It’s fine to comfort them and let them know that they’ll be alright, but letting them get back up on their own will help them build confidence. It will show them they are strong, capable beings, and that when they stumble in life, things will work out fine in the end.
3. You Follow Through On Discipline
“If you do that one more time, you’re not going to the party tonight!” But do you really mean that? Because if you don’t, then you shouldn’t say it. Keeping our word in matters of discipline is just as important as keeping our word in matters of the heart. No matter what, we must keep our word. It lets our children know that we mean what we say. That if we promise to be there for their soccer game, we’ll be there. That if we say we’ll help them with their science project, we’ll do it. And if we say we’re going to discipline them, we need to follow through. Our children need to know that we mean business, so that they trust that we’ll follow through on the other stuff we say we’ll be there for.
4. You Deprive Your Child
No dessert. No toy from the store. No going to Tommy’s house after school. We deprive our children in many ways, but it’s done out of consideration for their overall well-being. We want to teach them lessons about patience, self-indulgence and consequences. Maybe they won’t sleep well if they stuff their face with a sweet treat before bedtime. Maybe getting them a toy from the store will make them think they deserve something for no reason at all. Maybe Tommy’s parents are irresponsible and your child could get badly hurt if he plays at Tommy’s house. You don’t owe your child an explanation other than “Because I love you.” Someday they’ll understand and be thankful that you deprived them.
5. You Tell Your Child The Truth
Look, we all tell our children little white lies sometimes. And if that’s what it takes to maintain our sanity, well, then let the (little) lies continue! But sometimes it’s important to be completely honest with our children, even if it makes us seem like the “mean mom.” If your child didn’t perform well at their baseball tournament, let them know that they need to work on their batting skills. If they played sloppily at their piano recital, remind them that with more practice, they’ll get better. Sometimes what seems like a criticism is actually a way of encouraging our children. Of letting them know that we believe in them, and believe they are capable of more than they demonstrate. You don’t have to be harsh with your words, but let them know that you have faith in them to achieve greatness, but that it might take more effort on their part.