Hello, my name is Amy and I’m a mean mom.
I currently have three teenagers living at home. Ya. Three. 18, 17, and 14.
And, y’all… I am a mean mom.
It’s true. I am sooo mean. I do things like monitor what they watch, expect tell me where they are and keep up with their grades online. When they are out of line, I let them know and they even have consequences to their actions. I even make my almost grown children make their beds.
I told ya… I’m mean.
But I didn’t realize I was such a mean mom until I was talking with a friend of mine who gasped at the thought of requiring that my sons and daughter make their own beds everyday. “They are practically adults!” She pointed out.
That’s true. But I firmly believe that there is no magic birthday that suddenly means our kids are ready to be on their own, not even the ripe old age of eighteen. AND the operative word in her objection is “practically”. As in almost. As in, they aren’t yet. And since they are not adults yet, the responsibility of raising them still falls on my husband and me.
From the time that they were very, very little, babying our kiddos was not something I could bring myself to do. When they were two I tried to make a point to not blame tantrums and fits on the “terrible twos”. When they turned into preteens, I was not content at dropping them off at the mall or at the movies and getting them out of my hair. We have never tolerated door slamming, name-calling or any other behavior that is often dismissed as “teenage behavior”.
We haven’t made excuses for them and here is why:
What we are willing to excuse, we must be willing to live with.
Making excuses for poor choices and ugly behavior does not equip our children for life. If a six year old, 12 year old or 16 year old is raised with the idea that their choices and behavior can be explained away with a good enough reason, as adults they will have only learned to live as victims to life and its circumstances.
It is not cute for an eighteen year old young woman to throw herself in the floor and scream when she doesn’t get her way, so why would it be cute for an 18 month old toddler? And why would it be fair to allow a 12 year old to talk back to me and then punish that same child at seventeen for that kind of behavior?
Let’s take that even further… As adults we can all attest to the fact that we don’t get everything we want in life, right? When we don’t get what we want, how do we know how to handle ourselves? We learn it when we are little.
When you see grown adults throwing a fit in line at the grocery store, chances are they learned at a young age that if they get good and mad and make a scene, whatever they desired would be given to them. Or they may have overheard their parent/caregiver say something like, “Well little Snoopy is just so tired…”. Maybe they had whatever they wanted thrust at them out of frustration just to get them to shut up… (UHM… #guilty!) Whatever the reason, they are making a scene and acting foolish all while you’re just trying to get some toilet paper and milk.
Do you want your sweet, angel-faced baby to be one of those adults one day?
I definitely don’t. It is a miserable way to go through life, am I right? Then, as a mean mom, I must be willing to do the hard thing, stand my ground and teach my children how to cope properly in as many situations as I can without letting them allow the thought that ugly behavior is excusable.
Some of you may be thinking, “Well what about compassion? Everyone has rough days and kids don’t have words to express those kinds of days”. I would totally agree with you. Compassion is soooo important in parenting. People at every age face hard stuff that they may feel ill-equipped to handle. Sometimes we just need a moment to fall apart. I believe it is crucial to allow space for that.
But true compassion always acknowledges the challenges and then empowers someone to overcome them.
On the surface enabling looks a lot like compassion, but it gives person permission to stay the same and takes away their power to change. It doesn’t challenge them to rise above and do better. Besides, as a mean mom, it is up to me to equip my children with the words to properly express themselves.
So parent with compassion, but I would challenge you to keep an eye on your heart and make sure you don’t move over into enabling. If you’re kids think you’re a mean mom, take it as a sign that you’re on the right track. Surround yourself with other moms who understand that we aren’t raising children, but future CEOs, SAHMs, providers for their families, husbands, wives, and adults in line at the grocery store. We can do this, y’all…