I interact with a lot of parents every week and I have encountered many different parenting styles. I’ve seen something work for some, but not for others. I regularly cruise Pinterest for the latest parenting advice, and spend a good amount of time trying out different techniques with my son, to see what works best for him. I truly believe that there isn’t one form of parenting that is best for every parent and every kid. You need to find what works best for you, and for your kid-parenting doesn’t look the same for everyone, in fact it can even look different between mom and dad-it sure does in our house. Sometimes I’m able to find some awesome trick to get my son onboard with a behavior or action-other times I try everything, and yet he still refuses to stop putting his hands down his pants, or running into the road. I’m not a mean mom because I ‘just haven’t tried considering other methods’. I’m a mean mom because that’s the type of parenting style my son responds to best from me-and no I don’t feel bad, and no my son doesn’t love me any less because I am an authority figure as well as a nurturing figure in his life.
We all know that one mom in our lives who never says no to their child, handling every tantrum without having to raise her voice once. I’m telling you right now, I wish I was that mom, but I’m NOT. In fact, I think between my two-year-old and I we say ‘no’ more than any other word. I so badly want to be that mother who gets down on her kids’ level and quietly discusses the disagreement, calmly coming to a solution together without any hysterics. But my reality is that I am raising a boy who I like to call ‘my delicate flower’. The wind blows and this boy is sprawled on the ground, balling in one second flat. He can be on the floor in a full meltdown before I even have a chance to kneel to his level. My son is a drama queen, and on top of the hysterics he is VERY headstrong. When he gets something in his head he is capable of being fiercely stubborn, and extremely crafty in getting his way. He will outsmart any silly explanation you give him for saying no to something. He is very good at knowing who he can push around and who he cannot. This is my reality. So yup, I’m a mean mom, I say ‘no’ all day, I do not jump to his aid every time he cries, I let him sit in time out alone until he is ready to apologize. I am a mean mom and I’m glad I am because it’s what my son needs from me. Even if all I want to be is the gentle songbird mom, I do not have a gentle songbird kid.
I watch my son outsmart adults around him all day long. These toddlers are so much smarter than we give them credit for you guys. They can manipulate the adults around them expertly. My son is the king of this, and has a set of lungs you do not want to mess with. He can turn on the crocodile tears with the flip of a switch, and his performances are so convincing sometimes even I fall for it! When some toddlers fake cry it’s comical because they are so unconvincing. My son is not one of these toddlers. He will cry the same way if he gets his finger smashed in a door, or if he doesn’t like the way another kid looked at him. This is one of the behaviors that has led me to be a mean mom. When your son is crying hysterically every five minutes-and some days this is not an exaggeration-you learn not to come running at every squeal. It didn’t take me long after my son turning two for me realize the nurturing, soft, quite mother of my dreams was no match for my sons cunning, hardheaded, and dramatic personality. I learned very quickly just how clever he is, and that he was not going to be one of those toddlers who you could easily distract. My son would run right over the delicate-soul of a mother I had pictured in my head-picking flowers, skipping hand in hand with her toddler, giggling along–NOPE my son needs a mean mom.
Now before you light your torches and sharpen your pitchforks to come after me, understand that I am not saying I am a cruel mom. I am loving and nurturing, and my son is everything to me, as well as extremely well taken care of. When I say mean mom, I mean the kind of mom who refuses to put up with bull$h!t of an ornery toddler. We’ve all seen these notorious mean moms all our lives, some of us may have even been raised by one-especially the more hard headed of us out there. The mean moms are the ones in the grocery store shopping as usual, ignoring the waling toddler in the basket; or the ones dragging her screaming children from the park. Before having my son I judged them, the mom of my dreams would tame all tantrums and play at the park all day! If motherhood has taught me anything it is that things are rarely how they appear on the outside, and almost never end up how you thought they would. That mean mom ignoring her toddler is ignoring him because she knows the reason he’s crying is because an employee smiled and waved at him-resulting in the collapse of his delicate toddler world. The mean mom at the park is avoiding her crying kids because they’ve already been playing for five hours and she needs to get home to make dinner. Now that I am a mother I’m that mean mom ignoring her crying toddler-and no I’m not a bad mother. I’m not sure at what point motherhood culture shifted to the point that being a mean mom is now the same as being a bad mom. I’ve been given a kid who responds better to a stern voice than a soft one. If I came running every time my son was crying I would literally have to stand next to him at every moment. I love my son more than anything-and I am wildly protective of him. But I tell him no, I raise my voice, I ignore him when he’s being dramatic, and I punish my child for breaking established rules. I’m not ashamed I’m a mean mom.
Being a mean mom has never once stopped me from loving and supporting my child. He loves me just as much as his father, who lets him get away with much more. We all should parent our children in the way that works best for us, and them. For my son and I, it works best if I am a mean mom. A mom who sets boundaries for him, and who enforces these boundaries, and a mom who doesn’t baby him. Some children are built to push the limits, and test their boundaries as they find their place in the world. Just because your child is one that needs a parent to enforce these boundaries doesn’t mean you are a bad mother. I will welcome the day I am blessed with a second child, and I may get the chance to be that delicate-souled, soft mother. I am not telling all you moms to get out there and parent with an iron fist. What I’m saying is parent in whatever way works best for you and your child. I’m done feeling guilty about being the mean mom. I am the mother my son needs not the mother of my dreams.
My child needs boundaries, and he needs a parent who is going to enforce these. If yours does too then let me know below in the comments that I’m not the only mean mom out there.