The Meanest Mother in the World

My friend is laughing.  I’ve just told her something that I believe about parenting and being a mum and what it does to you if you do it long enough, and I’m laughing too, but her kids are little and mine are big and I don’t know if she knows I really, really mean it.

We were talking about a kid we know, and how they really didn’t want to do something that the mum really wanted her to do… and how the mum was all upset about the kid being upset and was going to have to tell her "no" even though it was going to hurt the kid’s feelings.  "It’s hard…" my friend said. "That’s a hard place for a mother" and I shrugged at the phone and took a swig of coffee, and I almost didn’t say anything, but then I did.

"How hard is it?" I finally asked. "You just say No" and when I heard that she was a little taken aback, I said "Don’t listen to me. I’ve been a mother a long time. I don’t really care about children’s feelings anymore."

She killed herself laughing and I laughed too, and I tried to explain because it sounded so bad. When I say I don’t care about kid’s feelings, I simply mean that how a kid feels about whatever we’re considering, isn’t my prime directive.  I care what a kid feels, but when push comes to shove, my job is to do what I think is best for them, not what they feel is best for them.  I mean, c’mon.  I’ve had at least one teenager who had some pretty strong "feelings" about their privacy and how I shouldn’t be all up in their business, and you know what? I didn’t care. Until your frontal lobe is developed all the way, you get privacy in your room and privacy in the bathroom, but I get to know where you’re going and what you’re doing, and if you want to keep a secret about where you’re at from me, you’re going to have to work hard at it, and it doesn’t really bother me if you’re upset about that.

Do I care if a kid is sad? Sure I do. I care a lot about their emotional state and how they’re doing, but that’s different than caring about their individual feelings on every point – isn’t it? I mean, I’m feeling right now like I don’t want to go to the grocery store because it’s raining, and I’m feeling super sad that I’m going to get wet,  but I’m still going, because feelings don’t matter if you’re a grown up and you’re out of toilet paper, and someday my kid is going to have to do stuff way harder than shopping or homework or showing up on time and I want them to have practice.

I’ve had these conversations so many times, and every time I end up sure I’m the meanest mother in the world. (This is an idea I may have gotten from a kid who was yelling it at me when I didn’t care about their feelings about vacuuming.)  Someone will ask how I got the kids to eat brown bread and vegetables and homemade yogurt and all I can think is that kids don’t have any money and they don’t do the grocery shopping and they don’t cook and they aren’t in charge and really, doesn’t that mean that they’re going to eat what I make? Or people ask how I limited TV as much as I did, and I can’t figure out how they think it would be that I would make a rule (no TV if it’s daylight, for starters) and then a kid would say that they didn’t like it, and that then… what? We would have another rule? One they made?  There were times that I responded to a kids needs by changing a rule, like… the "you have to go to school" rule got trashed because a kid really needed home-schooling for a term.  We’re all about responding to a kids actual needs, but you’re going to have a hard time convincing me that one of my kids needed me to make them a separate dinner because what I’d made them wasn’t what they wanted. (To quote my own mother, this is a family, not a restaurant.)

I can’t tell you the number of times one of the kids tried to turn on the tv, and I went and turned it off again. A few times the tv got taken away entirely, put in a closet and locked up because they broke the rules, and I’m not fighting with you if you do something untrustworthy, and really, I am a mean and horrible mother who doesn’t care at all if that makes you cry. AT. ALL.  Television is a privilege, not a right, and you want to scream about it, that’s cool man. Let those feelings out, but they won’t change my mind. Age, maturity, independence, your skills, your actual needs,  that stuff changes my mind.  Your feelings? No ma’am. 

I can hear somewhere, someone’s heart breaking for all of this. They’re thinking that I am actually a mean mum, and that it’s wrong not to consider the feelings of children and thinking how hard it must have been to be raised by someone who does what she thinks is best and steamrolls all over the tender little hearts of her babies.  They’re wiping a tear away from their eye right now, and they’re the kind of mum who’s going to turn to me later and say "But how did you turn the TV off? My kids would be so upset if I did that. They would freak out. I could never, ever take away the TV" and I’m going to explain that the difference between me and them is that they think they need their kid’s buy in or permission, and I think it’s my TV and I can do whatever  I want with it, because I care more about limiting TV than I do about crying children and that makes it easier. Louder, but easier.

I get that parents perspective. I really do, and let me tell you, I care a lot about what my kids needed – and I will still go as far as a kid needs me to if we’re talking about their physical, spiritual and emotional well being.  I want to talk to kids about how they feel, and what their preferences are, and I have always, always tried to listen carefully to what they want – because they’re part of the family and we’re on the same team but dudes, that team has  Captains and it’s the parents and we’re looking at the big picture, and it’s their needs that matter to us – not what they want, and I’m totally cool with that, because there’s a reason that society doesn’t let these people vote until they’re 18, and it’s because they lack experience, and wisdom, and a lot of the things that keep you safe and make you go to the store in the rain when you don’t want to, and I have my eye on the prize.
I’m making grownups.

I love my children desperately. I just don’t care about their feelings. 
If you know what I mean.

717 thoughts on “The Meanest Mother in the World

  1. BRAVO!!!!! My two are grown but I wish I’d read this years ago. Every word you speak is the absolute truth; thank you for stating it so perfectly!

  2. This is my approach to teaching. I teach intro courses for undergraduates. This is exactly how I feel.

  3. yes yes yes YesYES!!!
    (But then again, according to my daughter, I’m a fellow member of the “meanest mom in the world” club.)

  4. Required reading for every single mom out there who thinks that the children are in charge.

  5. Awesome. And eerily reminiscent of conversations I JUST HAD TODAY, with both my kid and another parent.
    I once heard a mother scolding her child’s nanny (that should tell you something right now) because her kid was climbing a sea wall with a 40 foot drop into the East River, and the nanny yelled “no” and pulled him down. The mother says, and I kid you not “We don’t want our son to hear the word ‘no'”
    My jaw dropped.
    Anyway. Yup. I hear you. I agree 1000%.
    the other meanest mommy in the world

  6. here here! When parents make kids do things they don’t want to, it is good training for when you’re an adult and have to do things you don’t want to…..and sometimes, that is the hardest part about being an adult.

  7. This post is made of YES. Thank you!!
    –Mom of 4- and 2-year-old, who wishes the TV weren’t so damn big it wouldn’t fit in the closet. Thankful, though, that the OFF button is quite prominent on the remote.

  8. I kind of just want to leave “YES!! THIS!!!” about a hundred gazillion times. But I don’t want to spam your page, so I’ll just leave a single, civilized “absolutely agree.”
    Not sure I’ve ever read it explained so simply, yet so brilliantly.

  9. Roaring with laughter here…..
    Girlfriend of mine is doing a superlative job of raising a young daughter (alone). She adores her kidlet but is one tough cookie. She looked me in the eye one day and said “She’s on loan to me. It’s my JOB to raise her to be the best person she can be”.
    And that included letting her blow her entire savings on a roller coaster ride at the fair. And then NOT handing her more money when she realized that all her money was gone in one 3 minute whirl and started to cry. Mom nodded her head gently and said “Yes, that’s sad” and walked on.

  10. Firstly, you can’t be the meanest mom in the world because apparently I am 🙂 Or so my 23 year old daughter used to tell me when she was young. Now, when my 9 or 5 year old try to tell me that I proudly tell them, “I know!! You’ll have to try a lot harder than that if you’re trying to hurt my feelings.”
    It’s led to talks about being in control of one’s feelings and how while it might matter, it doesn’t always change things… like when they say I’m so mean for making them do things they don’t want – I might be mean but they’re still going to do it.

  11. Wow, Steph. You have just defined the kind of parent I want to be. I don’t have any kids yet, but someday I will be committed to raising my children to be productive adults and members of society and happy people who are willing to give from themselves to others, and if your three girls are any evidence of your hard work and “mean mom” strategy, then I will be honored to follow in your footsteps.

  12. I’m exactly the same way. I love my children. I want them to be happy, but more importantly I want them to be healthy, capable, independent adults. That means teaching them responsibility, consideration and healthy life choices NOW. And you know what? Yeah, they’re mad at me at the time, but they get over it. And the next time, they know they can’t get away with it. And after that they don’t bother trying. That’s what kids do. They learn. We aren’t here to be their friends. That’s not the parent’s job description. We’re here to keep them alive and to teach them how to be adults. And that means saying no sometimes and sticking to it.
    If you are a mean mom, then there are a lot of us out there. We should start a club.

  13. sure wish I could include this post as part of our “Welcome Back to School” newsletter each year! it would help get parents and teachers on the same page. 😉 Especially when that teacher is also a jaded mother of teens whose already been around the block, parentally speaking.

  14. I remember the point when my daughter transitioned from baby saying “I spent the first year of her life making sure she didn’t cry, and it looks like I’ll spend the next 17 years making her cry.” Because I said “no.” And I still do. I do it because I love her.

  15. Amen!!! Hallelujah!!! Sing it Sister!!!
    -another Meanest Mom in the World trying her darndest to make her children into decent grown-ups

  16. I wish we could make all prospective parents have to sign that they have read and agreed with this before they could have kids!

  17. This is awesome! I tell my friends this all the time and some of them look at me strangely. I have adults children now and raised them the same way. I cared about their well-being not their feelings. But I love them lots, and they turned out well.

  18. My grandmother had the following advice. “You can’t adapt the world to suit your children, adapt your children to suit the world.”
    I told my kids that I didn’t really care what they thought of me when they were 10, I cared what they thought of me when they were 25. (My daughter called me when she was 22 and told me she was smarter than I thought!!! She got it!

  19. WOW! I am also the meanest mother in the world.I am a mother to 3 boys ages 4,3, and 1. If I had a dollar for every time I said daily “Guess What? I don’t care what you want.”my stash would MUCH bigger. I thought this was great. MEAN MOTHERS UNITE!

  20. So true: you are making grownups. They are making spoiled brats. I sure hope I am making grownups too.

  21. Well, I’m NOT the meanest mommy in the world. My daughter calls me “HARSH-SOULED”. This still makes me laugh.

  22. Kudos to you, Steph! If we had more parents like you, society would be all the better for it. The world can be a cruel and unforgiving place, and it is no favor to the littles to have them think that the universe is going to bend to their will. That’s a harsh lesson to first learn in adulthood. Better to have it under your belt while you’re young.

  23. My niece calls my husband and I the iron couple because of similar parenting ideas. My mother called it learning that actions had consequences. The children in our life, both ours and extended family, know that and as long as you are consistent it creates adults that can function in the future.

  24. I am totally in that mean mothers’ club. No is my favorite word! I think those moms who placate their kids all the time are creating monsters…and they have way too much free time to appease kids’ desires. Maybe I think this because I have twin 2 year olds, but I think I was mean even before I had kids, when I taught teenagers. No one has to like me. They have to respect me–cause I have enough friends already, thank you. Good post, Stephanie. I am on your team, for sure.

  25. Well said! Children need parents not friends. One day they will be grown ups and how comforting to know that your kid can survive in the world because you did what was best for them.

  26. So it seems that knitters are mean mommies.
    I always figure if my kids aren’t really annoyed at my decision at least a couple of times a week, I’m not doing my job properly.

  27. Let me give you a big amen to that!
    Thank you for giving me some much needed perspective about why my husband and I are doing the things we do. Just the other day after a family event with children who have no good boundaries, we pondered if we were too hard on our kids. My mom reminded me that children live up to the expectations you set for them and as long as you have patience, it’s okay to say “no”.
    Can I tell you how hard it is to keep that patience when my daughter asks for the 20th straight time something she knows is not allowed?

  28. I once heard someone say, “The best tool a mother can have is the cheerful, impersonal ‘No.'” Rules don’t change just because a person doesn’t like them, and kids might as well get used to it sooner than later. It’s a tool we have to give them to cope with life in the big, mean world.

  29. So true! I try to do this and only wish I were strong enough to do it every day. Have you read “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother”? Parts of it would resonate, and it would make you laugh.

  30. Brava Mama, brava.
    I’m frequently referred to as a “mean mom” as well but honestly? I don’t mind. I’d rather be a mean mom than raise brats.

  31. Wiser words were never spoken. To bad we don’t come equipped with this wisdom when our first child is born!

  32. My children and their friends referred to me as ‘Nazi Mother’, because I made them sit and have dinner (as a family) EVERY NIGHT and we sat together for 1 hour, EVERY NIGHT and either did homework, read or some other quiet activity before they could watch any TV. I don’t think it hurt them.

  33. One of my best momments as a mom was when I heard words coming out of my daughters mouth that were the EXACT SAME WORDS that 15 years before she had claimed made me a terrible, mean mother! I just looked at her and smiled – she grinned and said “shut up” – we both broke out laughing.

  34. I can’t tell you the number of times I had to tell my daughter that it wasn’t my job to be her friend (unlike the other mothers to whom she was comparing me at the time….), rather it was my job to make her a responsible and capable member of society. I told her that we can be friends when she’s thirty. I’ll let you know how that goes when we get there.

  35. AMEN! I never raised kids but I hired them after their parents had raised them and I had to go through the same conversations – “Yes, I understand that you don’t like this task but I don’t care.” Or even worse (true story) “Yes, you do need to show up EVERY DAY, even if the weather’s nice and you want to go swimming instead”. Please let there be more moms that teach their children that there will always be rules and there will always be consequences to breaking them, .

  36. Yes! I did my level best to raise them as a parent and not as a friend. I remember my eldest (now 25) when she was 5 was trying to find my husband a new wife so that she could have a new mom. (Other kids had step moms…) So she would try to entice him with all of the wonderful women she would see during the day. “Officer Linda is nice, isn’t she, Dad?” The computer teacher, her kindergarten teacher… Dave had a little talk with her. 🙂

  37. Thank You for stating this with clarity. Our response to being mean was, “It’s our job.” As teachers, it is often our response to students as well because it really is our job. For Moms who find this hard, please re read this post and understand kids need boundaries.

  38. Thank you yet again for writing a brilliant column. I think about this issue lots- have since my daughters were babies. There needs to be more parenting and less worry about being your children’s friends. My mom used to tell me you needed to be a parent first so you could be a friend with your children when they grew up. So true.

  39. I cannot tell you the number of times I have seen someone negotiating with a kid and I am thinking: who is in charge? Kids need rules, boundaries and enforcement to be safe, learn to live socially ( and civilly) and become functional adults. Bravo, mama, bravo!

  40. You’re talking my language. I’m rocking my two month-old baby and typing one handed, and I’m grateful that right now she has needs, not feelings (you know what I mean) because one day soon I’ll be saying “no” a lot because, frankly, I know what’s right better than she does. But now? While she’s this young? She’s calling most of the shots. But I get to sniff her little head so I don’t care.
    You know what I mean.

  41. Too bad more parents didn’t realize that you shouldn’t have children for someone to love and like you. Children need rules, examples and experience to deal with life outside the home when they go out the door. Regardless of age.
    The most loving parents are those who set the rules and enforce them in a loving positive manner. — From a proud “mean Mum” and Grandma.

  42. House rules are not arbitrary:they are set out of love for my kids and my sanity. It’s not always easy to be the grownup in a relationship with kids bigger than you are!
    When my daughters were teenagers I put a poster on the bedroom door that read, “When you grow up I hope you have a kid like you.”
    Fast forward about 15 years, and the oldest called after midnight(which stopped my heart) saying, “I’m at a party and there’s a teenage girl here who behaves just the way I did. Thanks, Mom, I’m sooo sorry.”
    Ahhhhh, the advantage of age and perspective: they’re now 48 and 50 and did they have very similar rules for their teenage boys? You betcha!

  43. Amen. There is a world of difference between respecting the feelings of a 4-year old, as it pertains to their priveleges and indulging their well-intended temper tantrum to get what they want.
    My Son Has Nightmares About Me Because I Withhold Chocolate
    I can’t wait to meet you at Knit City in a few weeks.

  44. Now that’s a breath of fresh air—
    I work with families and young children every day–I can’t tell you how often I see grown adults afraid to set limits for their 3 & 4 year old kids.
    I would like to show them all this article and I am sure you are raising some lovely girls!

  45. I am so there with you! I am a physical therapist and parents would say to me that their baby (about 6 weeks old) didn’t like “tummy time,” and so putting them on their tummy to prevent or even treat plagiocephaly (that flat head that comes from being on your back all the time) was SO hard. Or ask, “how do you make your __ (less than 3 year old) stay in a car seat?” Tummy time you can make fun but I would say, if you can’t get a 6 week old to do what you KNOW to be the right thing, what will you do with a 14 year old? Staying in the car seat or being still while having a diaper change was never a big deal for me with my 4 kiddos. And that trend has continued throughout most of their life.
    There are many issues in which my little ones never got a vote. I guess that makes me the second meanest mother in the world ’cause I wouldn’t take your title for anything in the world.

  46. What a wonderful post! All moms (and dads!) need to read this. I’m going to send this to the moms I know because I know they will enjoy it and the message. Thanks!

  47. Another mom on the same page as you here. And thanks for the reminder that I shouldn’t feel guilty cracking down on a couple of things that have gotten out of hand lately.

  48. You are a really good Mom–as a teacher for 35 years, I can say that if more parents were like you, the world would be a better place and things wouldn’t be as messed up as they are! Kids need to hear the no word—it is much easier for parents to either ignore or say yes—

  49. My meanest mom award became a family ~thing~… the kids kept having to come up with bigger and bigger things I could be the meanest mom of …I think we ended up at meanest mom in the galaxy 🙂
    Poor things… they had the meanest mom AND the meanest grandma (aka Flemisa) …sometimes all at the same time

  50. Wow, I got halfway through this article and it was such a relief to hear a sensible point of view on parenting for a change. I hope a lot of people listen to you and follow your model.
    Giving kids what they want all the time results in adults who spout Green Eggs and Ham holding hundreds of other working adults hostage in their working time, reading bedtime stories to their own children on work time. Bleah.

  51. You go girl! Too many parents don’t know how to say no and stick with it and mean it. I am sure that some of us should have done more that ourselves as our kids were growing up. I should have, but I was one pretty mean Mommy. I have a soft heart as a Nana, but I will respect those same kids when they say NO to the kids.
    And I have to say rules and limits have to be enforced with special needs children. Too many times, that is an excuse and it never should be. They have their own physical and mental limits, but there are still boundaries.

  52. Well, I think it is absolutely brilliant. You are not the meanest mum. The meanest mums don’t help their kids form into functioning adults that can get along with other functioning adults.
    My Mom used to tell us that it was her job to help us be the kind of person other people wanted to be around. Some of the kids we knew would throw tantrums and get their way and she’d say, “Who is going to want to be friends with that person when they are grown up and act like that?” It helped us understand a little when we were young. Also, I don’t remember there being options when I was a kid. It would have never occurred to me that I got a way other than my Mom’s way.
    Now, we are pretty much the same way with kidlets. Some things have to be done for their own good.
    I actually have just recently been going through this with my grandparents which is really hard. They need help and guidance now for their own good. I have to do things they don’t like because it is better for them in the end (and better for everyone else too). They just can’t drive the car if they can’t see my 6’4″, 300lb brother sitting 2 feet in front of them. It isn’t easy because I have a limited time with them, but I try to keep doing nice things for them to help offset the stuff they don’t like. I have to remind myself that this one thing, this little thing, isn’t as important as their greater well-being and safety.

  53. Stephanie, You are absolutely correct. One of the most important skills we can acquire growing os the ability to defer gratification. This is what allows us to graduate from high school and college, save money for an expensive item instead of stealing it or blowing the rent money, etc., etc. it is a skill acquired in childhood or not at all, and the learning process involves periods of time when the child is neither happy nor in charge.

  54. I was told by my daughter when she was a preteen that I was the second worst Mom that she knew.

  55. I agree with you 100%. I raised my kid the way you are talking about. She got what she needed, but she didn’t run the house either. My husband is the other people you are talking about. When we got married he decided his daughter (my stepdaughter) ran the house. We almost came to blows over it on many occasions. Finally last year I had enough and I told him at 25 she had to go. He was worried that it was going to upset her and hurt her feelings, but he would tell her to move out. Seriously? I wish my husband had your philosophy!

  56. Wahoo! Amen! Kudos! Yep, that’s the kind of mother I want to be! It’s really hard because my son is so darn cute and I hate to see him cry, but I am (finally) getting better at walking away. He just needs to express his emotions.

  57. Wow. Here I thought this post was going to be controversial or something, but nope. That’s just parenting. Parenting with common sense 😉
    For the record, I took the tv away 8 years ago, and haven’t regretted it once. I get “I hate you mom” all the time. And I don’t care. Because I love them and they have a roof over their heads and they’re well-fed and they’re happy (overall).
    I keep trying to explain to the 14 year old that once you’ve been caught smoking dope, you have no expectation of privacy. Because it may be your bedroom, but it’s my house, and I will not have illegal substances in it. And once it’s legalized? You’re still underage, bucko. SO not in my house.

  58. You, Madam, are a Parent and very much like my own mother. There is a difference between a Parent and a parent (the latter, I often call breeders). There need to be more Parents out there like you and my mother who care about what their actions will actually teach their children.

  59. My son is 31 now and he still teaes me about how I made him bring in a bucket (with NO handles!) of coal and take out the dustbin to the kerb (with NO wheelie wheels) and prepare his own lunch and make his bed, before school. He survived, grew up and that is the most important thing. I think he still loves me!

  60. When my kids were small, I’d just jump to the conclusion “I’m mean and evil and you will ….” Took some of the fun out of it for them, but I now have two lovely adults to enjoy.
    Stick to your guns – it is the only path to sanity, for both you and their adult selves.

  61. Your post will be required reading for the kids in my house. Why recreate the wheel? Perfectly said and saves me the breath.
    Also, you are no longer the meanest mom as I have been informed that distinction belongs to me now.

  62. I love this. My mom was very much like this but didn’t understand the line. We had to turn the TV off, do our homework and our chores. But she took it to the TV only if it’s what I want to watch when I want to watch it, clean my entire house so I dont have to, etc. I’m a horribly lazy person now because I’m just plain old cleaned out.
    That doesnt mean the premise was wrong, but that you’d found the brilliant line in the sand and merged lessons with love.

  63. As the grown daughter of a mom so much like you, please allow me to thank you. Being shaped to understand that the world is a place where my wants are of little consequence in relation to others’ needs has made me strong, patient, generous, adaptable, and resourceful as an adult–all qualities critical to success, as a woman and a person. I am now going to call my mom and thank her, again.

  64. HEAR HEAR!!! Hallelujah. I have two very young children of my own, and I too, am a ‘mean mom’. My life will not be ruled by the whims and wants of my 4 year old (the more vocal and obstinate of the two at the moment). Sometimes we can negotiate and come to a compromise, but this is my house and my rules. And I have rules for a reason. I really have zero problem with the word no. And I feel no need to dress it up either. If I mean no, that’s what I say. I totally get where you’re coming from.

  65. Love this, Steph! I used to tell my girls to “put it on your Oprah list” when they didn’t agree with a motherly decision, as Oprah was bound to have a program in due course about “My mother irreparably damaged me for life because….she wouldn’t take me swimming when I wanted….”(or similar grievances). Perhaps I should be happy Oprah has moved on to other problem-solving pursuits?!
    Meantime, I’m enjoying two amazing young women who managed to survive the ravages of Mrs. Meanie, who is all for raising loving, responsible citizens.

  66. I mostly do the same thing (though I really struggle with getting my husband to let them choose about small things that don’t matter in the grand scheme) but that doesn’t mean my heart doesn’t break when they’re weeping dejectedly about their disappointment. I’m sure I’m right about a lot of the big things, but it kills me (inwardly) just the same.

  67. Thank goodness someone else understands! It’s not about how they “feel” or what they “want” – it’s about being a parent, not their best friend! My children (6 and 3) give this “you hurt my feelings” when they get in trouble. I tell them, if you don’t stop crying about that, I’ll really hurt your bottom. They were wrong, and they have to suffer the consequences. I don’t think that a bill collector will let you not pay if you tell them that the cut-off notice “hurt your feelings.” Actions have consequences, and we all have to endure them. These life lessons as to what is important make parents the Parents.

  68. I’ve been an adult a HELL of a lot longer than I was a kid, and I am grateful every day that my parents set limits and didn’t care about my feelings (if you know what I mean).

  69. This kind of post, and especially the supportive comments, gives one a good feeling. You are not alone, some kids are actually being raised in healthy, maturing environments by parents who are doing their job – we can get so jaded believing the worst, but apparently there is a lot of the best going on out there. We just need to hear it once in a while! Which may raise another issue – judgement; other parents and sometimes grandparents who make it even more difficult to make and enforce rules because they are always undermining or challenging parental decisions (I had to deal with that A LOT) So – thanks from another mean mom, sending support and understanding to all the other “mean moms” out there!

  70. Thank you so much for this timely post. Just this week my husband and I had to punish my teenage son for a couple big reasons. As a result of his actions he is missing his junior year homecoming football game and the dance. These are big consequences for big wrongs done by him and are totally justified.
    Normally I’m very strong when it comes to these things, but this week has been tough. I almost gave in twice. Each time though, there was something that stopped me. I’m glad I’ve stayed strong. In the end he’ll be a better kid and adult for it.

  71. MWAHAHAHA I AM the meanest mother in the world. I deleted the games on the so-called Educational iPods darling Daddy bought leaving math, spelling, US States and one puzzle game. It is mysterious to my children why I won’t let them play video games after school. It is mysterious to me why I don’t throw out the console altogether. My husband insists it helps him exercise. And he bought it with his own money.
    I’m not trying to be your friend, I’m your mother.

  72. More parents should be like this. Too many kids are brats and it’s because of their parents being either lazy or too stupid to realize how their children are and letting them have their way with everything isn’t going to help them at all in the real world.

  73. Stephanie, you just summed up my whole last 25 years parenting four children. Love my kids to pieces, but they are the kids and I am the parent. My husband and I are not their friends, if you understand my meaning. “No” is a lifesaving word. Every kid should be taught that. There are a lot of kids out there who never learned that, to their detriment. Now that our two oldest are in their twenties, our relationship has changed to more of a mentor, support, friendship relationship. But when when they were younger it was as you have so aptly described.

  74. Kids WANT you to be their friend, but they NEED you to be their parent. I think a lot of folks confuse the two, or think that they can be both.

  75. Needs vs. wants – Because I love my children and want what’s best for them I supply their needs: healthy food, clothes, home, training, etc., and above all lots of love! I say ‘no’ frequently as well and imagine that the number of times will increase as my children increase in age. We don’t always get what we want, and we shouldn’t. Love your no TV during daylight rule. This last summer it was rarely on, having almost 24 hours of daylight. Of course in winter the amount of TV watching is inversely proportional to summertime watching. Great post, thanks for the reminder of what a parent’s job is.

  76. Yes, my daughter used to think I was mean. But she realized pretty early that I did her a big favor by not being the “best friend” kind of mom that some of her friends had…

  77. I agree, but I’m laughing, thinking about how much earlier “dark” is gonna come. Very soon. I’d imagine that’s what they’re thinking, too. :DD

  78. This is pretty much exactly what I needed to hear (read) right now. (Seriously, this was total serendipity!) Thank you!!

  79. Yup, that’s pretty much how my mom approached it. Boundaries and consequences are a good thing to learn young, definitely helps you set them for yourself as an adult.

  80. Amen! If there were more of us “mean mom”s out there, maybe the world would be a better place.

  81. I think about the future of our kids. However will they cope if they think it’s about them all the time? My kids are uncivilized beasts at home.
    Their teachers compliment me on how well behaved my children are. ???? My kids– are you sure. I don’t think they know which ones belong to me!

  82. If you think that being a mum is hard, try being a stepmum. Especially one who makes you change your underwear, clean your room, and do your homework. Apparently I scared the little beasts for life.

  83. Mom! I didn’t know you blogged!
    Seriously, though, all of this. And I won’t ever even have kids.

  84. Oh Steph! You summed up my parenting philosophy so perfectly!! One time another mom asked me how I limited my kids’ video game time. I was kind of stumped because my answer was, “I’m the boss. I just do it.” But aren’t they upset. Maybe, but that’s too bad. Both boys have grown into pretty darn nice men including the one that was adopted from a horrific environment.

  85. Hear hear, well stated!! So glad that the comments are positive so far, you have an excellent point and wrote it so eloquently. And since you have 3 well adjusted, self sufficient daughters, clearly your method worked. Cheers to parents who set limits and stick by them.

  86. I raised my two daughters in Greece (I’m not Greek, btw) but the Greeks have a saying “better the child to cry than the mother”

  87. I had the world’s meanest Mum growing up…and she made me the responsible, polite, caring person I think I am today. I wish more parents were like you and the BLOG – I see evidence of the contrary every time I go shopping – it just makes me want to scream! I thought it was a California thing, but I guess not. Your way is called tough LOVE, emphasis on the love. Good for you!!

  88. Oh, honey, I hate to tell you this but I am actually the meanest mom in the world. I earned the title some twenty-odd years ago and since I still have a thirteen-year-old it appears I will have the title for at least five more. It doesn’t count that the three older children who have grown up have all apologized and agreed that I was really only mean when I needed to be; sorry, but the title is MINE.
    Currently I am working on the title of the Meanest Nurse in the Hospital; eventually I will be the Meanest Nurse in the World.

  89. Raised my two kids this way…basically told them it’s not a democracy but a dictatorship and I’m Stalin!!! Both of them now deal with kids whose parents cared about their feelings and can see what a difference their upbringing did for them….they do much better at dealing with everything life hands them!!

  90. I don’t have kids.
    But I can tell you that when I see a mom being ‘mean’ in this manner, I want to go up and thank her. I know that I’d much rather be around her kid and more importantly, the adult she’s making.
    Thank you!

  91. Wonderfully, wonderfully put! I love my children too and could care less about their feelings. 🙂

  92. Today’s offering should be printed and handed to every new mother in the delivery room. I have had folks whine about how messed up their kids are at 16, and my answer is, you can’t start to discipline them at 16, if you didn’t say no when they were 2, it is too late to start as teens. Like I used to say to my husband when I said no to the boys, what are they gonna do? go someplace else? I don’t think so!

  93. My husband manages a bunch of bright, enthusiastic, and talented early 20-somethings.
    Recently, one was sick and was going to miss his/her spot in the rotation of things they all do. My husband asked another one to take the place of the one that was away. The potential replacer replied to the request by saying, “I really don’t feel like it. Do I have to?”
    He replied by saying, “Yes. Yes, you do. Because it is your job, because I am your manager, and because I am asking you to do it”.
    I don’t think this young adult had ever heard words like that before. He/she needed to have a mom like you.

  94. Duh! Saying “No” and consistency are the two main qualities of a parent. And it takes love to stick with it for over 18 years…
    My Dad always told us that we were lumps of clay on the riverbank and his job was to mold us. I understand his intent more with each passing day.

  95. And on the flip side of the coin, there was a very interesting article in Rolling Stone about two issues back about twins that are heirs to the Duke fortune. Their parents/step-parents were self-indulgent, strung out on drugs…and rich enough not to have to play by the rules. I think those two would agree with you as well.

  96. Just the other night, my eight year old looked at me, in tears over something, and said “It’s like you don’t even realize that I’m upset!” And I replied, “Darling, I understand that you’re upset. It’s just that you being upset isn’t going to change my mind!”

  97. You, my mom and I all share the same title. Thanks for putting into words what I had to deal with as a kid, and what I made my kids deal with as well.

  98. Excellent–one of your best posts about parenthood ever, and an extremely important point. Thank you!!!

  99. Thanks Stephanie – and Hurray to all us “Mean Moms”.
    I keep telling my daughter that my job is to make sure she is healthy, safe and grows up to be a responsible adult. It’s not my job to make her happy by giving her all her “wants”. Sure I hear all the time that I’m a “mean mom”, or “ruining her life”, etc. I’m sure it drives her crazy when I say “That’s nice” or “Excellent” and walk away. But she is slowly learning that if she breaks a rule, she deals with the consequences – if she breaks the rule again, the consequences double.

  100. I want to thank you for being this kind of parent. I’m not a parent but I’m a manager in the corporate world, and I would hire your daughters over someone’s coddled kids any day of the week. Maybe that makes me the meanest manager in the world, but IMHO not establishing boundaries and responsibilities in the formative years causes so many problems in the working world. You are setting up your daughters to be productive members of society and I thank you for it!

  101. I have written about this for years – and my kids (now all successful 20 somethings) hated me for quite some time. But my motto is I’m not raising them so they like me: I’m raising them so they contribute to the world and the world likes them.

  102. Well said! I belong to that club. My kids are grown and wonderful human beings, no thanks to the Meanest mom in the world! Ha! What is funny that they remember all the things they “wanted” and now in hindsight wasn’t all that important anyhow. Grrr….the anguish I went through. So once their frontal lobe ( I love that expression) has grown to maximum size and developed into adulthood, things all of a sudden make sense to them. Hurray! Now..if we could just employ all the mean moms in the world at the government ( all levels) we’d have lots of money in the bank,healthcare we could only dream of and everything would run ever so smoothly. All by saying NO once in a while and not caring about feelings.
    Well said Steph.

  103. As the mother of a 13 month old, thank you! She was an early walker and has been into everything. Sometimes, I feel I say no too often. But she needs to learn! It is nice to hear it from someone else and have it stated so well. I think I will print it and put it on the fridge so I can refer to it when I hear family commenting, with me in the next room, on how I don’t let her watch tv or eat crap food etc. She is my daughter and I know what is best for her. I don’t want her to be the whiny obnoxious kid that see to be so prevelant in our society lately. Thank you!

  104. Dude! I so needed this post today. I was the meanest mother dropping my first grader off at school this morning and have been moping around guiltily ever since. Thanks for having my back, Harlot!

  105. You are 100% dead on with this one. I was raised by a ‘mean’ mom although we called her strict and this year my eldest son (16) went to live with his dad (my ex) because I am a ‘mean’ mom. I don’t respect him or pay him to watch his little brothers. I also expect him to mow the lawn, take out the trash, help with dishes and put his school work before his free time. He decided I was too strict and, since his dad considers his feelings, he moved in with him. My son believes this is respect, the consideration of his feelings, and that he should be given respect, not earn it. I have three other sons I am trying to raise to be good men and I’m not changing my ‘mean’ mom ways just because my eldest son is being manipulative. I love my kids and that means making hard decisions and realizing that their feelings do not need to come into play when what’s best for them is at stake. The sad thing is that my eldest son didn’t really see the bigger picture and how much respect he had already earned.

  106. I have two grow sons that I’m friends with NOW. While they were growing up there were two comments that ended every argument. I will always love you, even when I don’t care for your behavior, and it’s my job to be your mom, not your best friend. Sounds like you’re the same type of parent.

  107. If you’re the meanest mother in the world, I would like to apprentice myself to you, for this is something I really need to practice. I have a pair of four-year-olds, and I’m terrible about giving in to crying (my whine-resistance is pretty good though). I’m hoping someday my kids will think I’m the meanest.

  108. I think the Meanest Mother Club is the largest group on the continent. As others have said, I now enjoy watching two young adults who are functioning contributing members of society. Worked myself right out of a job, and proud of it.

  109. When things got really tough, I would remind them that I was doing them a BIG favour by giving them something to tell their counsellors in their later years on their own dimes. Both have turned out to be wonderful, funny, smart, employed, voting adults. Not sure if they are seeing counsellors though!

  110. Absolutely!
    The fact that you’re going into so much detail about it makes it seem like you expect people are going to object to your parenting style. Not this Mommy! I’ve 2 boys (9 and nearly 7) and you and I seem to parent just the same. I’m still shocked that their Dr was surprised that we limit their Tele time (maybe not such a strong thing in our area? I don’t know. But it’s *my* Tele so *I* say yay/nay.).
    The thing about children’s feelings is that they have a LOT of them, constantly, and they don’t know how to process and sort them into “seriously important” and “fleeting” categories. That’s a parent’s job – both to sort, and to teach them how to sort. How can they learn THAT if you don’t teach them that screaming because the Tele is turned off is less important than screaming because they broke their ankle?
    I sometimes worry that I’m too strict with my boys, but I’ve had people tell me that they’re “nice kids” and “polite” and that makes me think I’m doing ok. *I* may think they’re little monsters, but maybe they’ll turn out alright in the end.

  111. I’m pregnant right now with my first child, with a due date in early January. This is exactly how I was raised, and the kind of mother I want to be too. My sister and I turned out just fine, after all. I think you are right on. Thank you for expressing this so well!

  112. Being a parent is the toughest task any of us will ever take on and being ‘mean’ is part of it. How many of us truly understood our parents were ‘mean’ to us out of love until we had a few years life experience and maybe a child?

  113. I always said that my house was not a democracy — it was a dictatorship. I aimed to be a benevolent dictator, and I did, on occasion, consult the subjects, but I had the final authority. I have to say that my kids were pretty accepting of this and I’ve often heard them comment on the behavior of other kids with parents who negotiated or out-right gave in to their children all the time. I think it made them feel safe to have those boundaries.

  114. amen, wish I was smart enough to be mean enough when my child was young enough to make it matter.

  115. Oh, how I wish every friend I have that negotiates with their toddlers would read this. And then they ask how my children toed the line so well–and I say, “They didn’t have a choice.” They could feel however they wanted to, but they couldn’t do whatever they wanted. And I don’t understand why this was hard for SO MANY of them to comprehend. I knew a mother who negotiated with her child on wearing SEATBELTS.
    Amen, sister. Amen.

  116. i was raised by a mother just like you. i was a good kid (most of the time) because of the rules and guidelines my parents set and because my feelings didn’t dictate what the family did. i’m a good adult today because they cared enough not to care (if you know what i mean). PREACH! 🙂

  117. Amen! My husband and I are this type of parent and it makes me sad how often we get complimented on our toddler and baby like we are parenting wizards. No, NYC parents, we aren’t wizards; we just don’t care how our kids feel. (So to speak).

  118. I love my parents to bits and pieces, and they had rules that sound a whole lot like those. I also like the grown-up that I am as a result. That made me laugh quite a lot. I bet my parents thought I thought they were mean, too. But they know I love them and am grateful now.

  119. Thank you all!!!!!!!! I so needed to hear that today. I have to take my 16 year old son’s phone away permanently due to a drug addiction and I’m struggeling with it because it’s my only connection to him. BUT a Mom’s gotta do the right thing for her child so good bye phone.
    Blessings to all.

  120. I taught high school kids for nine years, and this was very much my take on teaching. I’ve always hoped I would have the courage to be this kind of parent, as well. So as a parent, I say thanks for the reminder, and for letting me know I’m not alone. And as a teacher, I say thanks for raising awesome kids, because that’s what you’re doing. 🙂

  121. A friend came in one night explaining that she was the meanest mom in the whole world (her teen wasn’t allowed to spend hours on the family’s only phone with her friends). All her friends jumped up and gave her a standing ovation.
    Knitters, clap for mean moms! They rule!

  122. AMEN! And thank you. I didn’t think it was possible to love you more than I already do but this one sealed the deal. Oh that all parents were so wise….

  123. You & my mom could be best friends. When I was a kid & flatly refused to do any homework because I thought it was pointless and was giving teachers (and parents, actually) a hard time my mother took every single thing out of my bedroom except my box spring and mattress. She left those in because it was legally required that she do so- she checked with our state. Not only was I so freaking bored that I did all of my homework just for something to do, I also had to earn back everything through good behavior & displays of maturity. So no, I don’t think taking the television away is a big deal at all. Completely reasonable, actually. I think it’s just something good mothers have to do- occasionally drastic measures must be taken.

  124. Just what I needed. The kid’s gonna eat the homemade bread or learn to like eating a sandwich without it. Enough.

  125. Someone has to be the bitch. It is my job to be the parent, not the friend. Being a parent means making tough choices. I have to love my kids, but I don’t have to like them all the time. 35 years later I can tell you this type of parenting works. Now I can be friends with my children and they like me and I like them. It was not my job to stroke thier ego. It was my job to teach them to be strong self reliant people who could make a decision and live with the consequenses. It was my job to raise individuals who could support themselves and any progeny they sired. It was my job to raise people who could look beyond their own navel and see the needs of others. If I died tomorrow I can say I did my job. It was a hell of a lot of blood sweat and tears, but it was worth every moment.

  126. My 6yo girl describes me as the meanest, bossiest mum in her class, and that makes me happy! Loved this post and it’s comments x

  127. YES!!!
    My daughters proudly tell the World that they survived their Mum so they can survive anything.
    And they have little time/patience for kids they call ‘The Shallow Ones’ – those whose parents allowed the kids to rule the roost.

  128. I am totally on the same page as you and you and I now have awesome adult children who will do the same and better for their children!

  129. BRAVO! I’ve not had the privilege nor hard work of being a Mom but when I get to see my nieces and nephews this is how I roll too. I love them dearly but I’m not gonna take garbage from a 3, 6, 9, 15 etc. year old. Each time the poor things look so shocked when they find out my no means no but they quickly adjust. It just makes me sad that they are shocked because it likely means that my brother and his wife are too busy trying to be friends of their kids rather than their parents.

  130. My Mom: “You’re dad was working away from home a lot of the time so I was on my own with you. Someone had to be in charge and I was damn sure it wasn’t going to be you kids!”
    Me (to my now-adult sons): “Yes, you’re right, I’m the worst mother in the world. Yes, you’re right, so and so’s mother gets to make decisions about what’s best for you; I’ll call her right away. I don’t care if all the other kids have Nintendo; you’re not getting it for Christmas. I don’t care if all the other kids don’t wear sweaters to school; you do.”
    And my favourite “I am not raising you to be popular; I am raising you to think for yourselves.” (when I would not subscribe to the latest lunatic scheme or fashion that the “popular” kids were doing/wearing.)
    Both of them turned out loving, smart, funny and kind so I must have done something right.

  131. I don’t usually respond to your posts. But this one needs one. I was a teacher for 33 years. I’m now retired. I wish there were more parents who felt and behaved the way you did and do.

  132. My mother used to say that the reason why I had to go to bed at whatever time she wanted me to was because I was living in a benevolent dictatorship and she was the dictator, period, the end, go to bed now.

  133. This is how my Mom and Dad raised 5 children and I won’t say it wasn’t hard sometimes – for both parents and kids. Money was tight and times were tough — but, we made it through it and my siblings and I are all responsible adults with children and grandchildren of our own. Our parents taught us to value people much more than things, care for the earth and all it’s creatures, know the pleasure of the written word, remember our manners and always cherish each other. Looking back, I wish everyone could have had parents like mine. So, I just wanted to say “Amen Sister” — totally agree with you. The world would be a better place if parents were parents (not buddies, friends, or door mats) and kids grew up with rules, limits, boundaries and love.

  134. Hahaahhaah – apparently there will be a run-off vote for meanest mom.
    I might have phrased it a tad differently, but that is exactly the message mine got growing up. Now they range in age from 34 to 25, and I hear them say very similar things about children they care about and for.
    Sounds like you drew a very clear boundary between ‘want’ and ‘need’, and there may be no better thing to teach. Bet one of my daughters will read this tonight, call and say,”Mom! Yarn Harlot is so great, and such a good mom!”

  135. if more people parented like you do, we wouldn’t have a generation that many of us refer to as “the entitled ones” running around. we’d have more young people who respect others, care about those around them and don’t believe that they have to get their way 100% of the time. its a sad, selfish little way to be – and such a reflection of the way they were raised.

  136. I always told mt daughters two things, although not usually at the same time. Part of my job description of being a mom was to be mean. Part of my job was to be embarrassing to them. Now that they are grown I given up the first but the second is probably a lifetime chore.

  137. You’re exactly right, and the wishy-washy parents who won’t take a stand for the welfare of their children are wrong. Dead wrong.
    My daughter once wanted to know why her vote didn’t count in a decision I made. (This decision was for her safety, btw.) “This is not a democracy,” I informed her. “This is a benevolent dictatorship, and I’m the dictator.” What about her Constitutional rights? she wanted to know. “You don’t have any,” I replied. “Until you’re 18, I hold those rights on your behalf.”
    (And nobody has a right to go do something stupid and dangerous just because they’re too immature to realize how dumb that thing is.)
    It’s not a popularity contest, it’s parenting, and doing it right is going to mean that there will be times your child is utterly happy with you, and times s/he thinks you’re the meanest person on the planet. So what? They get over it, and they respect you, deep down, for taking care of them when they can’t take care of themselves.

  138. Just the way we did it! Later on we were called the “abnormal” family because we liked being together. All 3 daughters married men that feel the same. Seven grandchildren are being raised the same. The whole family loves being together still and count it a privilege to have each other.

  139. I know kids don’t come with an instruction manual, but handing new parents a copy of your post sure would be a great start!
    I wholeheartedly agree with you!!!

  140. So perfect and just what I needed. I’m starting to be outnumbered by teenagers, and it’s a whole different ball game.

  141. I’ve only been a mother for two years, but I completely share your philosophy, opposite to most of my friends. Like you say, I just want to make my son the best person he can be!

  142. This is brilliant. I was raised by an absolutely wonderful “meanest mother” and, after reading this, I picked the phone up to call her and thank her for everything she taught me.
    Thank you for raising adults. Mature, responsible adults with perspective are exactly what this world needs more of.

  143. PS: I had two rules that I think were very important:
    1. No child shall have a television in their room.
    2. No child shall have a computer in their room.
    2.2. A child with a cellphone shall surrender said phone to the parent at bedtime, and said phone shall be removed from child’s bedroom until morning.
    No exceptions.

  144. Yes. Okay. I’m totally on board with that. In fact, I would venture to say I’m even a WEE bit more strict than what you have just described…and I don’t flinch at tears from kids, either.
    But why no pictures of yarn porn?
    I came to your site for yarn porn.

  145. Excellent! I’m in the Mean Mommy club, too. And I have kids who eat–and have always eaten–what’s on the table, who tell me where they are going, with whom, and when they will return because they know I care that they are safe, who know that it’s easier to go with the program because the program is such that they will turn into responsible, self-sufficient adults. Of course there were treats and exceptions along the way; that’s why they were treats and exceptions.

  146. I have mixed feelings on this post, and I so very rarely disagree with anything you write. Is it the parent’s job to make sure that kids are doing the best that they can- absolutely. Is a child going to get angry and sad when they don’t get their way- yup too bad. Do I think that as they get older that Mom and Dad still make all the decisions- nope. I was living on my own and supporting myself at 17. My mother tried to impose a curfew while I was living alone and supporting myself. My response- then and now- was nope, sorry. If I’m grown up enough for the responsibilities of school and work and car repairs and laundry and bills, then I’m grown up enough to decide whether or not to stay up late watching reruns or doing all the work that meant the bills got paid. I know about brain development, and even so I look at teenagers and think- “look at these almost adults, I’m not going to treat them like a kid”. Even with children, sometimes the parents’ idea of what they need isn’t on track. Everyone makes mistakes, and sometimes that extreme ‘feeling’ is a child indicating that their need wasn’t actually met.

  147. My husband and I denied our kids all sorts of things – TV time, expensive clothes, pricey toys and they have both turned out to be good adults – in some ways better than their parents.

  148. One easy answer I used to use … long long ago when my kids were small…..
    If they complained or whined about the rule, my answer was, “I’m sorry, that’s the rule. I’m sorry, that’s the rule. I’m sorry, that’s the rule.”
    And they never questioned why I didn’t just change the rule to make them happy. That wasn’t an option. grin.

  149. The first couple of remarks to my kids being heavy sarcasm, just in case anyone thought I was serious – the kids knew it was sarcasm all right! And guess what? Teen boys can roll their eyes just as well as teen girls!

  150. I saw this online and had to save it. I feel it works well here also.
    Children’s Rights:
    Because it’s the most character-building two-letter word in the English language, children have the right to hear their parents say no at least three times a day.
    They have the right to find out early in their lives that their parents don’t exist to make them happy but to offer them the opportunity to learn the skills they will need to make themselves happy.
    They have the right to scream all they want over the decisions their parents make, albeit their parents have the right to confine said screaming to certain areas of their homes.
    They have the right to find out early that their parents care deeply for them but don’t give a hoot what their children think about them at any given moment in time.
    Because it’s the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, children have the right to hear “because I said so” on a regular and frequent basis.
    Because it’s the most character building activity a child can engage in, they have the right to share in teh doing of household chores.
    Every child has the right to discover early in life that he isn’t the center of the universe (or his family, or his parents lives) and that he isn’t a big fish in a small pond, isn’t the Second Coming, so as to prevent him from becoming an insufferable brat.
    They ahve the right to learn to be grateful for what they receive, therefore, they have the right to receive all of what they truly need and very little of what they simply want.
    They have the right to learn that obedience to ligitimate authority is not optional, that there are consequences for disobedience, and that said consequences are memorable and therefore, persuasive.
    Every child has the right to parents who love him/her enough to make sure he/she enjoys all of the above rights.

  151. I loved the post . I had a mum like that I have grown up into an (almost) sensible adult and we are extremely close . She has always said she wasn’t running for parliament and that it was her job to be a parent and that many modern parents want to be friends and not parents
    Too many people never hear the word no as children and think that the world revolves round them and they are not nice as adults .
    Ps loved the blanket story I emphasised as I’m having the same trouble with a silk lace shawl and I don’t want to bin it as the silk cost a fortune

  152. Hahahahahaha!!! I laughed so hard at this post…. because I am the “mean mom” in my neighborhood, and I hear about it all the time from my two teens, about how all of their friends’ parents let them do this and that and watch unlimited TV and play violent video games. And I am guilty of saying glib things like “well, too bad you weren’t born into that family then” and having my friends gasp at my lack of sympathy for my children’s feelings… So THANK YOU for so entertainingly reminding me that I am not alone and maybe have some competition for “meanest mom on the planet” (which a 13-year-old may have recently called me when I made her stop watching “Pretty Little Liars” mid-episode because it turned out she DID have homework to do after all). Parenthood is not for the meek.

  153. Very well put. I never considered my mom “mean” even though there were many rules. Instead, I have a wonderful relationship with her as an adult, and she and other people I know compliment me on how well I handle life, especially the rough patches. I credit my mom. Entirely. We didn’t have a lot when I was growing up, and I’m sure I had the occasional disagreement (ok, tantrum), but in the end, mom was right. Always. (She is going to love reading that!) My mom taught me — subliminally a lot of the time — right from wrong, how to treat people with kindness and compassion, how to cook and eat well and take care of myself even on a tight budget, and how to muddle through. She also taught me how to listen, and respond thoughtfully to others, by the way she listened to me, and yes sometimes via discipline. Being a mom is a hard job. Kudos to moms!

  154. I can’t think of a better way to make grown-ups!
    I was the “mean mom” who told my daughter what she could and couldn’t wear, when she could have the car and when she couldn’t, and set a curfew. There were rules that when she questioned them got the response, “It’s my house, and this is the way I like it”, too.
    TV and computer were limited – and sometimes eliminated – as was phone time.
    No boss or landlord will ever care about your feelings (other than in the most superficial way), so get used to it when you’re at home, kids.

  155. Do you remember Maggie? She was three months old when I brought her with me to sock camp. She and I were at a family party together. She didn’t get something she wanted (I don’t remember exactly what it was, let’s guess it was a marshmallow). She threw herself down on the ground and started crying. I picked her up, looked her in the eyes and asked her ‘have you ever got something by this behavior?’ She snuffled, stopped crying, and whined ‘No’. I told her to get it together, enjoy the party, and stop making a scene or we wold go home.
    She took a deep breath, gave me a look, said Sorry momma! And ran away to play.
    The lady next to me was shocked. She couldn’t believe that a three year old could be ‘reasoned with’!
    Consistency. A lot of hard work. And not giving a damn when my kids aren’t happy. Becuase I know that we are all happier with boundaries. Boundaries and a lot of love.

  156. Oh Oh Oh! A mean grandma here. (Yup, really! Bedtime, bathtime….eat your corn!)
    I wasn’t just a “mean mom” — I was a “fascist mother”!!! My then-14-year-old told me so. (I had rules about going to rock concerts. Imagine it!)
    He is now the most loving, grateful, and mature 46-year-old ADULT for miles around. (His brother holds the title for 50-year-olds.) This is the only way to get proper adults out of those cuddly charming blobs they send home with us from the hospital.
    Keep it up!

  157. Perfect! Wish we lived near each other as I could really use some support for being a “mean mom” in a community of very, not-mean moms.

  158. This is why when teen boy #2 thought it was be a good idea for his girlfriend to spend the night in his bed (I found her because she was nice and left her shoes by the front door along with her purse) because she couldn’t find her car keys and didn’t want to bother her father with a phone call to come get her, nor did they want to impose on us by waking us up. This is why I shouted at them “WHAT IN THE HEL WERE YOU THINKING?!’ moments before I called her father to apologize profusely that I didn’t check up on them as I should have. And then said teen thought he should tell me I was “way over the line.” And I laughed at him.
    Oh yeah, I get you, umhm. Been there, sister.

  159. Wow – amazing number of comments! I’ve already sent this to two friends who parent just like you. One has adult kids, the other tweens, and they are all lovely human beings. Now to see if I have the nerve to send it to a couple of friends who I wish were like this…. Way to go, all you mean mums. Those who hire, teach and eat in restaurants appreciate everything you do!

  160. I can’t say enough how much I like this – my husband and I always say, if your kids never get mad at you, then you’re not doing it right. Cheers!

  161. Whenever my younger son would tell me (usually at the top of his voice) “You are SO MEAN!” I would respond, “Thank you–that means I’m doing my job!”

  162. AMEN, SISTER!!!! I always told my kids I was the meanest mom, deal with it. They are now two of the most loving people I know. (Maybe they are inspite of me.)

  163. Steph – I haven’t even read any of the other comments so far – I just wanted to cheer you on for being a level headed parent – Not just a Mum, but a strong example and role model for your children.
    Keep up the awesome work – the girls appear to be well adjusted from all the Blog exposure at the very least. lol 😉

  164. My kid is grown and turned into a fine adult, so I guess I did something right.
    That is the best narrative on parenting (as opposed to best friending) I’ve read written by a PARENT in a long time. Today’s parents need to read and then understand that it’s okay for a kid not to be happy or get their way. They will get over it.
    Please find a way to turn that into a booklet that can be included with the goodie bag they send home when you have a baby.
    Carol Burnett said it very well when discussing her kid problems: “You have to love your kids enough to let them hate you for a while”.

  165. Wisdom speaks. One of our rules was that the person who bought the car and the gas was the one who got to choose the music that is listened to. Driving to practices, games, music lessons, whatever, we always listened to classical music. When team members needed a ride, my kids would apologetically announce, “we have to listen to Mum’s music”. Most often the team member would say, “oh, I like classical music, too.” That reinforced to my kids that it’s okay to listen to classical music. I got in my 26 year old’s car the other day. What was playing? Classical music.

  166. I’m only six weeks into being a parent, and I thought this post was fantastic. My daughter’s decided that me not holding her is an excuse to scream. A lot. What she doesn’t understand is that I need to eat or my body won’t make food for her, and I can’t even make a sandwich when I’m holding her. So…she’s upset, but it’s going to be fine in the end. She just doesn’t have the foresight to understand that yet, or the memory to go, “Oh yeah, she came and picked me up last time after just a few minutes, so she’ll do that again this time.” She thinks I’m the meanest mother ever when I do that. I’m getting a good start on it, I guess, so she’ll have lots to complain about when she can talk.

  167. It’s great to know that I’m not alone, that there are other mean moms out there with proper parenting perspective. Gives me a bit of hope for the future. Thanks for the hilarious picture of your life – and mine.

  168. And I thought I was the meanest Mom in the world. I wish this was required reading for all parents on a regular basis. You Rock!!

  169. YES! YES! YES! YES!
    I’m a middle school teacher, and I am tempted to give every parent who complains that their 6th grader won’t do homework or that their child spends too much time on video games or FB, etc. a copy of this blog entry.
    YES! YES! YES!
    By the way, that’s the way I raised my kids who are now 32 and 33. Guess what? They survived. They are successful. They are happy. They are well-adjusted, productive adults.

  170. When in grad school for psychology, I used to teach parents how to discipline their kids. The big thing I had to do was teach parents how to be consistent with their kids, especially when rules are concerned. Parents were always amazed that their kids could go from terrors to well-behaved just by setting rules and following through with discipline when they weren’t followed.
    My friend and I discussed “being the mean mom” a few months ago. We agreed that if your kids don’t think you are the meanest mom in the world at least one time in their lives, you are doing wrong.

  171. When my kids asked to do something when they were young, if I wasn’t sure how I felt about it, I always said no. My logic being that if I said no, I could always change my mind and say yes. But if I said yes then I had to stick by it.
    My kids were taught to respect other people’s feelings and property and how to behave in public. We had (and still have) lots of fun but we were the parents and the ones in charge. And it’s great that when we visit them now as adults, we are considered the “fun” parents.

  172. My sister and I found a Mean Mother poster and bought it for our Mum. She was so happy that we understood where she was coming from she cried.
    And yes as teenagers we didn’t appreciate it but as adults we totally do.
    There should be more mean mothers in the world. Than maybe it wouldn’t be such a screwed up place…

  173. It is just too bad so many of the ones parenting today do not understand how to do it correctly, the way you did. Thank you for laying it out, maybe some of them will take note.

  174. I’m that same kind of mean. And my oldest is only ten. My kids raid the refrigerator for fresh fruit. That’s as bad as they can get at our house.

  175. Bravo, Steph!
    You’re a mother after my own heart (and I can hear my own Mum in your comments).
    Well said.

  176. I am 28, married only a year, and no kids. I only hope I can be a badass mother like you! That’s definitely not how I was raised, so I hope I can overcome the feels-factor and follow in your footsteps. Thanks for sharing, I’m going to save this post for later reading…if you know what I mean.

  177. I’ve come to take “you’re the meanest mom ever” as a compliment, because it means I’m doing my job. I do care about them, but letting them get away with not participating in the family because they don’t feel like it is not an option. They will feed the cats/do their laundry/clean their rooms etc. Hopefully they’ll appreciate it later, just like I did.

  178. That’s the way my mother works, and I love it. Not always at the time, but a few days later.

  179. I agree wholeheartedly with every word of todays post. I have a friend who told her son that her goal was ” a well rounded 25 year old not a happy 15 year old”

  180. That’s how my house works. When our capable college student chose not to go to class and was told to leave the university for a year to examine her priorities, we were deaf to her “feelings” of unfairness…. We gave her 3 months to get herself together. All she wanted to do was lay on the couch and mope. We made arrangements for her to go to the slums of Lima, Peru and focus on someone else’s misfortune for 4 months. After a few weeks her “feelings” of mistreatment vanished and she found purpose – she loves teaching English. We now have a daughter that is very grateful that we put the end goal ahead of temporary feelings. My co-workers act like I am the meanest mom in the world. I can live with that!!

  181. you sound like my parents. and that means you must be an awesome parents.
    (yes, i didn’t always appreciate this, but i do now and i will never, ever understand the “but she gets upset if she doesn’t watch as much tv as she wants!” parenting choice. tough luck, i wanted a pony and after getting upset about not getting one guess what? i still didn’t get a pony!)

  182. Preaching to the choir here. I was so mean I once went on strike. I sat in a lawn chair on the front lawn with a big “MOM ON STRIKE” sign (and my knitting, of course). The neighbors took photos and went home to threaten their own families.

  183. This is perfect for me right now. My 14 year old daughter doesn’t understand why she can’t go to the high school football game alone tonight without me or her dad (neither of us can go). “WHY?!?!?” (in tears, nice touch) Because I said no, end of story. I don’t really care that she’s upset, she’s a dingy girl that doesn’t need to be going to a football game alone at 14 years old.

  184. I am also a mean mom. My son turns six next week, and I’ve been mean to him since he was old enough to have wants! 😉
    Thank you for saying that you are raising grownups. I always say I’m not raising a child, I’m raising a man!

  185. Amen, sistah! I’m pretty mean, myself. My two girls will thank me later. Probably.

  186. means you are their parent, not their friend, you can be their friend when they grow up, kids need parents.

  187. I’m with you. There are two kinds of people in a family with children. There are the parents and there are the children. The childrens’ job is to grow up and push boundaries as they do so in order to form their adult personalities. The parents’ job is to push back in order to prepare their children to survive in the world where they will rarely get their own way. Isn’t it much better to face your first disappointments in an environment where you are surrounded by people who love you and will help you deal with the disappointment than out in the big, cold world where no one cares how you feel at all. Saying no is hard but that’s why you’re getting paid the big bucks to be a parent–it’s a job, not a hobby.

  188. I am laughing as I read your post. I think I need to print it out and give it to every parent I know and work with. I spent a lot of time professionally trying to teach parents that Mean moms make good kids.

  189. You are not alone! Don’t you know that Mom stands for ‘Mean Old Mother”? I was the worst mother i the world because my kids didn’t have cell phones or a computer in their rooms, or a private phone line, or a TV in their rooms.
    I still have one mad at me because I will not agree to her having internet service in her apartment. (She is special needs, I control her funds and she gets lost in the internet. She would not leave her place, or shower, or many times sleep if she had access to it.)
    Her sister won’t come home to visit because we will not let her boyfriend stay in the same bed with her in MY house! I have no control over what she does at her place, but this is my (and sh’s) house, my rules! He can stay, just not in the same room as her. We are not cruel people. But, listening to her, you would think we were torturing them! I told them they could stay in a hotel if they absolutely had to stay together, but they think it’s their right. She is NOT married to him, so no it is NOT a right.
    So, stick to your guns. No one ever died from no tv, no phone, no allowance, etc. Many years later they will thank you for it. I am still waiting. LOL
    Don’t forget, the “Mother’s Curse” does work. That’s the one where you say “I wish you have children just like you when you are grown!” LOL

  190. Oh. My. Goodness. You have no idea how much I wish all the children in my class had you as their mum. My job would be a breeze then!!!

  191. I knew there were many more things than just knitting that made me admire you.
    The meanest mom in the world (you) can now look at some great, caring, giving young adults and say “I am a very proud mom”.
    It worked so well for me that I am now using the same process with grandkids (sometimes it’s even harder to stick by the rules with them) but the end result is the important object.
    When grandkids come to visit the parents can’t understand why there is no fussing and I get along so well with them, Because they respect me and I respect them but I am still the Captain.

  192. Very well said! I feel the same way. I never cared about my kids feelings about this kind of stuff, mostly because I care about their feelings in the big picture. I think they would feel pretty bad later if they had to live in the world without having learned that there are rules and consequences. But mine did learn those lessons, and seem to want to spend time with the “meanest mother in the world” now that they are grown (and even before they were grown) and guess what…I want to spend time with them too, because they are great adults, that I am proud to have raised.

  193. Yes, yes, and more yes! I am consistently amazed at what I see other children getting away with (and I work in a public library, so I see a LOT), with their parents right there. Hitting Dad because you can’t get the DVD you want? And Dad just takes it? Seriously??
    I told my family that story over dinner and my children, 13 and 10, were shocked and appalled. That’s how I know I can’t be doing too badly with them!

  194. I have sent this link to my son . He is a solo dad of two , 13 1/2 year daughter and 12 year son. He is going a great job but he can be meanest “dad” in the world according to his kids at times but u know what ! Kids want to be with him not their mum they know who is in their corner when the chips are down and love him to bits.
    But it can be so hard to be ” mean” even when ur heart tells u it is the right thing to do he has she’d many a tear over the years but his rewards will be great just as his kids are !

  195. This needs to go viral! It really does. Kudos Stephanie, for stating this so eloquently.

  196. I have sent a link to this post to two of my daughters who are new mums, they keep telling me what a good mum I was for exactly the reasons you give above ( when you have a baby you develop a whole new respect for your mum!)
    You say it so much better than I ever could, thank you.

  197. What you wrote could have been written by my mother and father. They believed that their job was to raise me to be a ‘productive member of society’ and they were to train me as such. I knew every day that they loved me, but that they would make decisions based on the above, not by how I felt (which frankly as a child wasn’t all that consistent – except about eating peas…) I’m now in my 60s and I still thank them for making the hard decisions. They were wonderful parents.

  198. I Love You for validating me! I plan to send this to my husband to read. I teach this way too and let me tell you, sometimes it’s really hard to explain this to the parents who “care” about hurting their children’s feelings. In fact, I’ve had students pulled from my class for wanting to teach them to be independent. Such a crime!

  199. And this is why you have raised productive and well adjusted children. Keep it up! We did the same thing. Now we watch our children raising our grandchildren as you describe.

  200. I share your philosophy. My daughter has never called me mean, but I bet she’s thought it plenty of times! I’m also a middle school teacher, and all I can think is, “Why don’t all parents rock like you?”. You would not believe how many parents let their kids rule their world! Then when the kids’ behavior and grades don’t jive with what the parents want and a meeting is called…well, I’m the least favorite person in the room. I’m definitely the “mean” one. I have no problem letting parents know *exactly* what their “precious” is like. Additionally, I’m kind of known for giving parents creative punishment ideas. If a parent meeting is called, students shudder when I invade their world. Now if only there was a way to get all parents to do their job and produce caring, kind, conscientious, productive human beings.

  201. I’m a mean mom, too…and I’m happy to be one! It is not my job to be my son’s friend, but his parent. If I have to be “mean” then so be it.

  202. Totally my style of parenting. It works, too. My kids are 24 & 25, one is married, one in a great relationship; both have jobs; one lives overseas with his wife (miss them a ton!); both are loved by their employers because they know the value of good work and know how to get along well with others. Not that my parenting is the ONLY reason they’re wonderful adults…God has been good!

  203. I am a retired high school teacher…but I feel comfortable speaking for high school teachers everywhere……Thank You. And you know what, I’ll say thank you on behalf of the kids too, because they are so much better off for this kind of ‘tough love’.

  204. Chiming in. You are 100% right. Haven’t read the other 254 comments, but I sure hope they all said the same thing. That’s how we raised our kids, too, although maybe because they are boys or maybe because they come from a Scandinavian heritage on both sides, there was no screaming or crying or tantrums, just reluctant compliance.
    Aside: Elder Son, now 27, has been gritting his teeth to deal with some folks that he had to deal with but who have been real bastards to him in the past. Last night I told him (jokingly) on the phone that maybe we should have been meaner parents so he would have gotten used to that kind of treatment at an early age.
    I guess that means that even if the parent sets rules and enforces them in spite of the kids’ feelings, guess what? the kid does not grow us scarred for life. Although if parents do NOT do that, the rest of us will be scarred by having to deal with those entitled kids who were never told No.

  205. Yep. I’ve been called “the meanest mom in the world” by my kids too. I still shrug and tell them “I’m the mom, and I know better. You can’t …” (have sweets, watch TV, not clean your room etc.) “.. just because you feel like it.”

  206. I always quote Captain Kirk at the kids: “I’ll take that into consideration when this ship becomes a democracy.”
    But I might also decide to use, “Feelings don’t matter if you’re a grown-up and you’re (out of toilet paper/out of money/expected to help).” Because it is amazing how teens want all the rights and privileges of adulthood without the responsibilities.

  207. Yep. When mine said, “You’re mean”, I always replied, “Sorry you feel that way but I’m the Mom. It’s my job.” They all turned out to be fine adults.

  208. Wonderfully put, Steph. I love my children but never forget that they are the children and I am the grownup. I make choices in their best interests, whether they like those choices or not 🙂
    Stay strong, “mean mamas”, and rear the people who will be able to cope with the real world and hopefully make it a better place one day!

  209. I tell you there are a lot of adults who wish their parents had been a little meaner. Actually maybe it’s just me that wishes that…for them. 🙂

  210. Right on. This is exactly my parenting philosophy. I think of is as benign dictatorship. And frankly, my children are growing up to be lovely, engaging, and responsible young men.

  211. Popping back to add: when my oldest was a month or so into her first semester of college, she called home one day out of the blue, and searching a moment for the right words, said, hesitantly, “Mom. I just wanted to apologize for all the times I was a brat growing up.”
    “You were never a brat, you were a normal kid.” I added some soothing pleasantries.
    Got off the phone and yelled “YES!!!!!” into the quiet house, pumping my fist.

  212. Oh my, YES! I am a StepMom (Bonus Mom!) and I wear a moment in time like a badge of honor. My stepson looked at me and said, “Karen, you are not cool.” I replied, “ok”. He looked me dead in the eye and very slowly said, “No Karen. You. Are. Not. Cool.” I looked at him right back and just as slowly said, “O. K.”
    I’m trying to raise grownups too! Sometimes it’s hard though when the Mom/ExWife is more worried about making sure they have candy and mp3 players instead of jeans and school supplies to start the school year….
    Thanks for this great post!! :)K

  213. You are so right! My kids are grown and out of the house, but when it came to parenting, it was more about their needs than their wants; what I thought was good for them was what they got. Whenever there was a complaint about the menu, my response was, “This is the FREE meal”. I am happy to say that my son and daughter are doing just fine, and dealing with life as adults.

  214. I’ll echo the very first comment here – BRAVO! I make the rules. It was one of the first lessons the pediatrician made sure we learned when my children were just weeks old. And I’m happy to say that while I may have waffled here and there, I have two grown children who are young adults that I am proud to say I helped make into the people they are today. Do I want to wring their necks sometimes? Of course, I’m their mother!! But they turned into really nice people and I’m thrilled. 🙂

  215. I hope that when Sara and I have kids (not too soon, but probably sooner than I expect), we’ll be half as good parents as you.

  216. Hmm. I’m not quite a mean mum. I thought I would be but I tend to listen to their attempts at persuasion/explanation and decide then how to act.
    Eg “Come and get snack!” “But, Mum! I can’t!” “Why not?” “The werewolves are coming and I haven’t built my bed yet!!” (Minecraft for those of you not familiar with the eerie howl.)
    Mean mum: I have called therefore he should come.
    Sensible mum: Yeah, I’d be gutted to get that far in a game just to be gobbled by werewolves for the sake of a cereal and raisins in real life.
    “OK, your snack is on hold for five minutes! Then I eat it.”
    OK, that’s a trivial example but the same applies to more serious stuff. “Mum, I don’t think I want to go to Tae Kwon Doh because I don’t really like fighting people.”
    Mean mum: “You said you wanted to and I bought the suit and paid for the year’s membership therefore you WILL attend – you won’t be a quitter”
    Sensible mum: (God, I remember how much I hated disco dancing when mum made me do it because she’d bought me that red catsuit). “Keep going until Christmas to be sure, then you can stop.”
    Dinner making my child actually gag…? Yeah, not going to force the issue. No matter how hungry they are, they’re never going to eat something that makes them vomit. Once I see the throat closing, I give up. Between four fussy eaters, that brings me down to about six accepted dishes but, hey ho, they eat raw carrots, peppers, cucumbers and fruit until it’s coming out their ear so I’m not too worried.
    So, sorry, no, I can’t join the “I’m a mean mum” cheers. I’m more a “Listen, suss it out, then decide” type mum. My kids are already learning that a scream and tantrum gets them nowhere but a clear and concise argument from them may, just occasionally, give results.
    That may all change when they become teens, right enough…!

  217. I have wondered over many years why so many parents feel obliged to ensure that a child has a driver’s license at the earliest possible legal moment, as well as provide a car (often private, not family-shared)& insurance. There seems to be little regard for the age/maturity factors you listed so well.
    My parents did not have a TV until I was 6, nor a phone until I was 11 or 12. This was our parents’ choice, not due to poverty, religious belief, or rural location, & we didn’t consider it a hardship at all.

  218. My daughter used to yell “I hate you!” and I’d say, “Yup, that’s my job”…

  219. I’m only kind of with you. In the end, what I want for my kids is happiness so I would never say I don’t care how they feel. I’m with you all the way that at times the feedings don’t change the choices but I think helping the kid deal with the feelings is part of my job. Showing empathy helps them understand that I am setting limits because I care rather than because I have arbitrary power. Everyone feels sad and disappointed at times and kids have a hard time with those feelings due to innate immaturity and inexperience. Yes, the limits need to be firm and when possible clearly defined but parsing the emotions is a key factor in gaining maturity so I want to address that as well. I absolutely care about my kids feelings… and I reckon you do as well.

  220. I enjoyed reading your thoughts on this. I agree that kids can’t force their parents to do things like make a separate dinner. I also think that parents can’t make kids do things. I’m all for parents trying, and sometimes bluffing that you can make them do things does the trick. You can’t actually force a kid to go to sleep – you can only make them go into a dark quiet room at a certain time. You can tell a kid that they can’t leave the table until they eat their dinner, but after 4 hours you kind of have to admit defeat. You can tell your 16-year-old that as long as she lives under your roof, she must go to school, but then you would have to be prepared for the possibility that she would just move in with her boyfriend or go live on the street. Are you more stubborn than a 10th grader is a very entertaining game to watch, but not one you want to be competing in. But I’m not going to let my kid know that I can’t force her to do things – I’m just going to keep bluffing and hope that it continues to be effective.

  221. One of my biggest pet peeves as a waitress is when a parent tells their kid they can’t have a coke. Then they give in RIGHT AWAY when the kid whines about it! MAKES ME SO MAD BECAUSE ONE DAY THAT LITTLE BRAT IS GOING TO BE IN CHARGE OF THINGS AND IT MIGHT EFFECT ME! I couldn’t care less if the kid has a coke-it’s 1. the fact that the kid thinks it’s ok to argue and 2. the fact that the mom encourages it.

  222. Here! Here! I love this post. I might send the link to my adult children who are currently expecting grandchild number one and grandchild number two just three months apart. It might put me in the interfering grandparent category but might be worth it.

  223. Yup, I get it completely. I often say to my 15 year old daughter, this is not a democracy, it’s an monarchy, and I’m the queen and in charge. (She actually thinks it’s a dictatorship but that’s ok).
    I limit tv (lock it, actually), and she also has no cell phone or computer/internet access at home. Shocking. Not a fun battle to wage, but I believe it’s in her best interest. Want to keep up with your friends? Call them on the phone or invite them over (in person, gasp!).

  224. Amen. It always told my boys that this was a benevolent dictatorship and all decisions would be made in their best interest not on my being popular.

  225. I think you are totally right. Your job as a parent is to raise a good human being, not be a friend to your kids. They don’t need more friends, they need parents. That doesn’t mean you CAN’T be friends with them, just that it should be secondary. Just my opinion of course =)

  226. I get exactly what you mean, and I do not think you’re a mean mother, I think you are one of the most grounded mothers I know, along with mine.

  227. I think what you’re saying is that you’re a parent who cares about your kids’ well-being as opposed to a parent trying the be their kids’ friend concerned with the kids’ wants.
    Good for you. My friends who are parents have wonderful kids of good character and bright futures. Those who worked hard to be friends with their kids have kids that are mal adjusted, unhappy, and many are chemical dependent.
    Kids’ need parents like you.

  228. Shout it from the mountain tops, sister!!!
    I am SOOOOOO tired of moms (sometimes dads) being called or naming themselves their child’s best friend. Your kids do not need for you to be his/her best friend, they need a PARENT. Those who do not understand the difference usually raise self-indulgent, confused kids who have no one to turn to for guidance, possibly because their parent is not an adult, either.

  229. I loved this, with 4 kids someone is always upset with my decisions and they don’t and can’t rule the house.

  230. I’m happy to be the unpopular one and say no and am very unlikely to be swayed by emotional blackmail. I don’t care if they don’t like me, it doesn’t mean they don’t love me, understanding the difference is maybe some parents downfall. However hubby is soft used to cave in regularly. Being undermined is very annoying and lead to lots of arguments but it is happening less often after a few heart to hearts on my reasoning! I’m not as hard ass as you’re describing but they do understand and respect when I mean business.
    I essentially have 2 sets of children, The older two now 25 and 24, as well as the younger two who are 10 and 9. With the older two I was a single parent for a fair while and I realised if they walked all over me at a young age then when they got to be teens I would be in serious trouble with if they did not respect me and as I had no back up. Despite being a very young single mum, to my kids dismay I was much stricter than a lot of their friends older and more experienced parents.
    So far it seems to be working OK. My adults are doing pretty well for themselves and the younger two are heading the right way as well.

  231. Don’t let anyone tell you that you are a mean mom. We need more parents that think like you, then maybe we won’t have so many young people and older people who only think of themselves and their wants rather than their needs. Wants and needs are different and children need to learn that.

  232. Jo-Ann@ 2:01 PM:
    When I was around 6 my mother said to me: “I have to love you, but I don’t have to like you.”
    That was 67 years ago, and it still hurts, implying – as it does – that she wouldn’t have loved me if she didn’t have to, and certainly didn’t like me.
    Perhaps it would be better to say something like “I love you but I don’t like what you just did”?

  233. My kids are in their 30s and wildly successful people, so I can smugly declare my child rearing to be successful:
    1. I make the rules.
    2. Breaking rules has consequences.
    3. No hitting.
    4. Everyone helps.

  234. First off, let me start by saying that I don’t have any children of my own. However, I am a great “Auntie” to my friends kids and grandkids. I agree 100% with you. When I am fixing them lunch or dinner, I don’t ask what they would like, or give them several choices, they eat what I am fixing, or they don’t eat. I think a lot of parents give in either because they want their child to be their friend, or perhaps it is just easier to give up.

  235. Thank you thank you thank you!!
    My friends are parents of both varieties and which variety’s kids do you think are the topic of continuous concern?
    I don’t know how many times growing up I heard “It’s my job to make you a functioning productive responsible grown-up” in my response to “its not fair/why do I have to ___/but all my friends…..”
    Of course the older the kids got, the more frequently my mother would add: “and like every job there will be parts you don’t like to do and this is .mine”
    In our house it wasn’t ‘you’re so mean’ it was screams of “I HATE LIFE LESSONS”…(and that 1st outburst was at age 4)
    And all the kids hung out at my house because my parents were “so cool” “and so smart”.
    I am printing up copies of your post for every baby shower.

  236. I agree! My only child told me that between the smothering, hovering and snooping, that he felt like a prisoner. I told him he was trapped by his attempts at getting crap past me. “You wouldn’t have to work so hard at hiding if you weren’t doing anything you think I would consider wrong”.
    He had sadly misunderstood the ‘government’ of our family composition. It’s not a democracy, it’s a dictatorship – and when necessary, I have practiced terrorism. Sounds bad, but I have no regrets.

  237. I wish I lived in a house between Stephanie and capsize…I could not agree more and as a teacher, I see a lot of problems that this philosophy would solve.

  238. *M*ean *O*ld *M*om — I told my kids that Mom was just an acronym. 🙂 Now ages 27 and 31, once they became adults they began to acknowledge that the “mean” things were the “right” things.

  239. Thank you for such an amazing post! I am a mean mom too. I love my daughter dearly, but it is not my job to be her friend. She is 4, and I do know better. As a middle school teacher, I often feel that I am the parent to 100 kids a semester. My favorite line when teaching them is that “The only thing that I sugar coat is a cookie”. There is nothing wrong with being firm and consistent. The world would be in a much better place if more people could use and follow through with the word “No”.

  240. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Sometimes I feel like I’m the only “mean” mom out there, so it is soooo good to hear that other’s feel the same way.

  241. Hallelujah. I have had the privilege of being a mother. I have had the privilege of being a very close aunt. I consider my sister’s children my babies as week-I have been there with them at birth. One of them is now a big old grow up and she had the same kind of mothering (and sometimes mean old auntie) that you speak of. She is responsible and independent and the joy of my heart. I text with her twice every day-morning and night even though I am in Singapore and she is in Oklahoma. Her brother is breaking my heart-he has decided that he knows best and sadly my sister lets him. I love him so much but man oh man he needs some harsh love to he is going to starve and live on squalor nod be desparetly ill when he is out on his own. Well, we shall see-kids are surprising in how they become adults, that is for sure. I am so glad I have the opportunity to be in their lives regardless. It makes me feel a wee bit less selfish in choosing not to become a parent.

  242. Amen and amen. Perhaps I’ve said it before, but it still holds true: “the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.” Parenting is the toughest job on the planet but absolutely the MOST important.

  243. My sister needs to read this. She is all about “feelings” and I am afraid some day my demanding yet adorable nephews will be hoodlums because they never hear no.

  244. You have no idea how much I needed this. I believe it, every single word, but when I’m in the trenches doing battle with a strong-willed 11-going-on-15-year-old son and all I want to do is run away or enroll him in military school, your post can pull me back from the brink. Not very far back, but at least off the ledge. Thank-you. I’m not going to read ANY of the comments, because I don’t need more conflict in my life, just these wise words of yours. Thank-you again.

  245. LOVE THIS!! I am forever telling my kids I am a Mean Mum, but oh well get over it. I choose different things to be mean about (Tv isn’t one of them) but my philosophy is the same. I really don’t care when my kids cry and tantrum because I’ve said no, or if I’ve removed something because they fight over it.
    Oh and they get one warning about balloons. Fight over them more than that, and I pop them. AND I LOVE POPPING THEM. solves all the problems.

  246. Right on! The distinction between what is wanted and what is needed is often obscured to the detriment of everything, whether it’s dealing with children or finances. Being able to make that distinction makes everything a whole lot easier and ultimately better.

  247. what a wonderful post. I totally agree with it. I tell my girls that this a dictatorship and i’m the dictator so get over it.

  248. I wanted to cheer through this entire post. I agree with you wholeheartedly. It’s a parents job to be a parent, not a friend. Later when the kid is an adult then you can be friends, right now you are working at making independent people, you’re “making adults”.

  249. You are the most amazing mom; I hope that I have your skill when my turn comes. The world needs a bloody lot more moms just like you.

  250. YES. This is exactly how I feel about, and how I parent my extremely willful 3yo. Truth be told, these are tactics I also use on my Husband. 😉

  251. I told my kids that all mom’s have a certain ridiculously high number of ‘no’s they have to say every day, and while I’m almost as tired of zucchini as they are, and yes, I’m thinking it’s almost pumpkin pie and ice cream season too…NO, that is NOT dinner, and NO we can’t order out (’cause no one delivers here) and NO you can’t eat in front of the TV and NO I’m not kidding, but YES, now that I think of it, it IS time for bed

  252. From one Captain Mom to one Captain Mum, I think you’ve said that quite well. We’re trying to raise our kids into decent grown ups.
    Nice job!
    10 more months and my baby leaves home for college and I do think I’ve done good by both of them.

  253. Never agreed with a blog post more! Also, my rule is if someone fixes you something to eat, you eat it. Period. (barring food allergies, or if someone is vegetarian, etc) It is constantly amazing to me how many parents let their kids eat or not eat whatever they want. When a mom says “I made xyz and the kids just wouldn’t eat it,” I’m almost at a loss for words.

  254. SCORE!!!!!
    My 23 yr old raised by the meanest mom ever (no clue why you others are all claiming MY title!), is sitting here listening to me reading snippets of the post and comments, making a lot of “well duh” and other snide remarks about permissiveness.
    She is a nanny now, and firm in her beliefs about limits, good behavior, and entitlement. She also seems to think that our limits didn’t kill her. Made her weird, among most (not all!) of her friends, but she also scorned those same friends’ lack of independence (not to be confused with freedom!).

  255. thanks Steph, I agree wholeheartedly. One of the best things we’ve ever done for our family is to eliminate television from our home. (occasional video movie but no cable TV). Very little internet/computer too. This eliminates the need to set limits one thing less, and they now Love to read.

  256. Many years ago, when I was a young married woman, I was taking an assertiveness class from the wisest woman ever. She talked about children and raising them and her philosophy. I had no children at the time and thought it the best advice ever. Now that all 4 of my children are grown and gone, I am positive it was the best advice ever. What was it? Raise adults – not children. Your children should grow to be the type of people you’d like to hang out with when they are adults because you will know them far longer as adults than as children. Give them the skills and knowledge they will need to be good adults — they will hate it at the time, but be grateful when they are old enough to appreciate the difference between themselves and others.
    That’s what I raised: independent, self-sufficient, caring, intelligent adults with a great sense of humor whom I love dearly.

  257. Loved this…I aspire to this but don’t always reach it (sometimes I put on a video because I just want to make dinner…)…but since my kids are still little, this gives me encouragement to keep trying, and to keep making dinners that everyone except my husband eats only 2 bites of.

  258. Music to my ears, and not mine only judging by the number of comments. So how come so many are not getting it?
    Everywhere we go, people marvel at how well behaved our kids are. I did not bring angels to the world, but my role as a mother is to educate them. I am so glad to be part of the mean mom club. The last words they hear from me every night is “I love you”, no matter how much I had to scold and yell that day.

  259. Preach it!! I know your blog has a wide & diverse audience but this topic really needs an even BIGGER audience. I hope your lesson gets through to some parents who need it. This world would be a better place if more parents understood this concept.

  260. I wish you lived closer. I need you to back me up at the next parent meeting in the school where I work.

  261. The thing about parenting is that it is based on an intimate relationship. No amount of information or exposure can determine the exact nature of what exists between two people (I think in some ways, even the two people involved in any relationship can’t put into words all aspects of their relationship). The think about living where we do where the culture is enough of a melting pot that we can find our own way is that it can be overwhelming and liberating. I guess my point is that the philosophy is one thing, but nobody can ever know exactly how it comes to bear on the relationship itself. That’s between parent and child. So it seems silly to criticize people’s parenting styles in one sense because it really is just an idea. The actions are so much more nuanced than the ideas. I think of myself as my son’s ambassador to the greater world. My choices are a constant balance between that role and the role of unconditional lover. While I may describe it differently, I’ll bet that I’m largely on the same page with Stephanie, except that I’m only two years in. My performance remains to be tested. Anyway…thanks for sharing. Way to balance heart and mind as a mama!

  262. WONDERFUL post! I don’t have kids and am of an age that being a parent will never be a part of my life. But what you have just written is what i hope i would have been like had I been blessed with a child. Thank you for what you have done!

  263. The meanest moms in the world are usually the most successful moms. Not the moms who are uber-strict and overprotective, not the moms who want to be your best friend, but the mean moms.
    Mean Moms know what’s best, they help kids grow into responsible and successful people. I didn’t have a mean mom (she was paranoid, overprotective, and wanted me to be her only BFF), and I believe my early adult years were a challenge. So was establishing relationships with people.
    I *became* a mean mom, and I have two pretty stellar teenage daughters as a result. There were times I wasn’t mean – I used Mean Mom judiciously. They’re smart, independent, they know the rules and understand why they exist, they know there are consequences to breaking the rules, and they know how to be helpful people – even when being helpful sometimes means just sitting down and listening even when there’s nothing else they can do.
    I’m about to set one free to head for college, and I think I am sending a pretty good person out into the world. Hopefully she’ll be a good Mean Mom someday too.

  264. Wow. This week’s ep of Michael J. Fox show was a great example of “because I said so” parenting. Y’all must be in karmic sync or something.

  265. I have developed some Rules of Thumb for raising children: Make sure they get enough discomfort, boredom and inconvenience in their lives while young. Sure to earn you the meanest mom in the world award.

  266. If I had a time machine, I would go back 24 years and be you to my kids! You rock!

  267. Thank you for this post!!! Perfect timing and a perfect post. And to think I was coming here to see what beautiful thing you were knitting.

  268. Bravo to all of you who are a part of “the meanest Mom in the world” club! I’m thrilled that there are so many of you, and that you are completely dedicated to the long-term goal of making whole and complete grown-ups out of your children. It’s the toughest job out there, and I commend you on your hard work.

  269. Well said. I was an adolescent therapist in detention centers. All girls. Most had mothers. The One statement I heard constantly was, “My parents didn’t give a damned enough to tell me no.” A parent is not supposed to be a best friend. They are raising children to be adults. Thank you for saying what needs to be said.
    I’m knitting up a full size blanket. I am so sick of blue, but, it will get done come hell or high water. Wait, I’m in Colorado, we had the high water. I better get back to the blue knitting. 🙂

  270. As a teacher of teens I feel the same way. I’m in charge of the seating chart. I know you don’t want to move away from your friend but your feelings are not what count here. It your learning, their learning, and my ability to teach.

  271. I just read long swaths of this entry to my husband, who is an elementary school counselor. He thinks that you’re wasting your time with this “knitting stuff” and should write a book about child rearing. 🙂
    Thank you, as always, for your wit and wisdom,
    Karen In Kansas

  272. I was (and still am with a 25 year old) mean, horrible, heartless mom! DITTO MY DEAR HARLOT…DITTO!!!!
    B. Rickman

  273. I remember once, when my dad wouldn’t give me something that in my teenage mind was so important and I screamed I hated him.
    His response: Good. I am not here to be loved. I am here to make sure you don’t do something that will ruin the rest of your life. I am here to make sure when I am no longer here, you aren’t going to end up dead in a ditch somewhere. More than that, I am not concerned about.
    Well, I not only didn’t ruin my life or end up dead in a ditch (yet), but I am a pretty damn good adult. My step brother was raised by the “your feelings matter so much and I don’t want you to ever not like me” kind of mom. He’s a screw up.
    Also, I don’t remember any of the things that I didn’t get, only the good stuff. My bro? Remembers every single time his mom gave in, and lives his life like the whole world should hand him what he wants.

  274. I think we could use a ‘like’ button on your post and on many of the comments. (So many, I didn’t read them all.) Keep on.

  275. I had to laugh when I saw the title of your pos./ When my son was about 4, he told me I was “the meanest Mama in the world!” and that when he grew up he was going to move to Japan and NEVER come home! Well he is almost 26 now and guess where he lives. You got it, Japan and he hasn’t been home in two years!

  276. Oh wow, to know that I’m not the only mother in the world who actually made the t.v. disappear. I’m with you 101 percent….it is our responsibility to make our children into thinking, caring, responsible adults. It’s not mean, it is having the backbone and the self respect to believe in your own parenting. Luckily for your kids, they got a mom with a great sense on humour, a whole lot of love and a great way of looking at our world. This was a really, really good post. Power to you.

  277. Very well said! You sound like both my Mom , and my Mum and my two Dads! I am in my 40’s they did a great job! I may not always get what I want but I have everything I need! I am glad I had parents that I thought were “mean” when I was growing up…they truly cared and still care about the person I have become and will become. Your kids will thank you in someway as will your friend’s thank her for being a parent and not their friend.

  278. Amen.
    My youngest (4) when asked, will tell you that she lives in a dictatorship and not a democracy.
    My mom’s mealtime answer was “There are two choices for dinner. Take it or leave it.”

  279. When my nine-year-old was about two, he would tell me he was hungry, he was thirsty, he wanted x or y. I would look at him and say, “Oh my, that’s a problem,” and leave it at that.
    He soon figured out that when he needs something, he needs to ask for it politely, not dictate to me to go get it.
    He still asks politely for things, and he’s overall more polite than plenty of the other kids around here. Lesson learned!
    (I’ve also been known to say, “I hear what you are telling me, but I’m not changing my mind. Do what I say.” Very mean indeed.)
    Let’s let parents be parents!

  280. I think that there is an extreme side to this style of parenting. My dad would often says he was not my friend he was my parent and that he was in charge. However he would also fly completely off the handle, yelling and blaming everyone for everything and red in the face. He’s an adult who doesn’t know how to take responsibility for his actions and takes hissy fits like a two year old. He would make me feel insignificant and small and like I couldn’t do anything right ever. As I grew up I realized I could either try to plead him (wich would never happen) or I could please myself.
    My mom took the opposite approach and was my friend. And I needed that balance. I am much closer with her as an adult and can trust her to share information without her judging me and telling me how to live my life.
    I think that there can be a balance though. Me and my husband are trying to start a family. And I definately beleive that having clear rules and consequences to those actions that are consistently followed theought is good. Having rules around technology in the house and family time and financial responsibility. Yes absolutely. Bellitling your children though. Not cool. I would have appreciated more positive reinforcement and the trust and space to make my own decisions and deal with those consequences instead of being shut down over everything.
    Though for all my griping both my parents did things right. I would not have the same ethics regarding work before play if my dad had not nailed it into me. Though how he did it I disagree with. And my mothers trust in me and her support has helped with my emeotional well being.

  281. I wish you’d posted this like YEARS ago. I’m no good with kids. They scare me. And I think the reason they scare me is that I take their feelings into consideration.
    My parents treated me exactly the way you describe. And you know what? I survived 32 years of that. What’s more, I think it made me a better person. Sure, high school was horrific because that kind of Captain lead team works best when the players don’t challenge the captain, but I still told my mother a couple of years ago that I got it. That I was sorry for being an ass in High School and that I feel like her parenting worked. Because, really. it did.

  282. I have two girls who are ages 5&7 and you are my freaking hero right now. Thank you for saying this, and really thank you later when some little person is telling me how mean I am. Mean moms forever! Mean moms are the best moms!

  283. Stephanie – thank you. Thank you so very much. You and my mother had the exact same thinking, and you know what? I am a strong independent adult. My mother raised two grown ups. And for that I will always be grateful! And I am sure your kids feel the same. Good on you!

  284. When my kids would tell me I was mean, I would reply, “Yes, and I practice.”
    I work with a 26 year old who was not told “no” much as a child. It shows.

  285. 30 minutes of electronics per day in this house. That includes TV, computer, video games/handheld devices, or any combination of the above. 30 minutes TOTAL, not of each. Our son (11 years old) pouts sometimes, but he knows not to complain. He knows the rule. If he gets himself in trouble, I confiscate the handhelds and a TV computer ban is implemented. The boy has a room full of legos and stuffed animals (which he surprisingly still plays with) and he LOVES to read. There’s no reason for him to be glued to electronics for more than 30 minutes a day.

  286. I have raised three children through some very challenging times and have lived by two precepts:
    Give children everything they need and nothing that they want.
    It is their job to push and my job to hold firm.
    Following these two rules have kept me sane and helped them. Are they ‘spoiled’? Absolutely. Loved? Certainly. Running the show? NOT at all.

  287. Your our kind of parent, I often heard how mean I was. But my kids grew up to be great people, and I’m glad to know them now.

  288. Amen, Sister! “I’m making grown ups.” It should be every parent’s mantra.

  289. There were many times I scooped a screaming child under my arm and walked out of a store. It is our job as adults to teach the children in our lives to become civilized, independent , reasoning adults with a brain in their head. No one said it was easy. No one promised they would like it.
    Funny thing is when I look at them now, I like the people they have become, the partners they have chosen and the families they are making. And that’s how it’s supposed to be.

  290. YES!!! My thoughts exactly! I was coddled as a child, knew just how to manipulate my mom to make her change rules, and was MISERABLE. I try to be the kind of parent I wish I had…loving but in control. I’ve got 2 smart, strong-willed kids (11yo dd and 8 yo ds) who test every limit but have grown into wonderful, confident young people. I like to think that the security of the boundaries (as well as lots of love) has something to do with it. This bog entry made my day! No disrespect to my mom; she did the best she knew how. But it takes courage to be the parent and some-time bad guy, and she didnt have that. It helps to remember that kids love their parents even when they are angry at them. Your girls are lucky to have you for a mom. :))))

  291. Thank you. Thank you! THANK YOU! I may not be a mother myself, but this is the way I was raised as well, and I really do believe that it made me a far more able adult once I got there. A parent’s job is to see to their child’s NEEDS, not cater to their WANTS. Big difference!
    I know it could not have been easy for my Mom having three extremely stubborn and opinionated daughters to raise (you gotta watch those Scotch-Irish-Cherokee girls!), but she survived & so did we!

  292. Totally get where you are coming from. My defining moment was when my daughter told me I was ruining her life when I called the parents of a purported party to make sure they knew they were having a party at their house ( they weren’t ).

  293. As a teacher, I say with all sincerity that more parents like you are needed. Sometimes the best gift you give your child is a firm “no.”

  294. Thank you for being the voice of sanity in a world gone mad!!!
    Parents today don’t get the fact that having kids means that you actually have to parent. The kids can’t be in charge, they aren’t yet smart or wise enough.

  295. Thank you for being the voice of sanity in a world gone mad!!!
    Parents today don’t get the fact that having kids means that you actually have to parent. The kids can’t be in charge, they aren’t yet smart or wise enough.

  296. You’ve read “Love and Logic,” haven’t you? that’s the same idea. The world is meant for kids to observe, and it doesn’t center around them. You may seem like the meanest mom, but TRUST me, when those kids get out and go to college, They will LOVE you for being the meanest. Because kids of the “meanest” parents are the kids who survive in the modern world, and not just survive but thrive. There should be a t-shirt or a button or something: I may be the meanest mom in the world, but that doesn’t mean I’m not right. or something like that. 🙂

  297. So well sad! And this is why you have great kids, thank you – helps make the wrld a better place!

  298. Well said! If more parents knew how to parent, the future generation would be so much better off. As it is now, the adults of tomorrow are going to be spoiled by materialism and anti-social because of interacting with electronics rather than with actual humans.

  299. You nailed it.
    Thank you form another “meanest mom ever” who “just doesn’t understand”.
    Yet my child has graduated from high school, has a full time job, has been accepted to university and is figuring out how to pay for that. He also hasn’t been arrested, or run amuck in any other fashion.
    I feel like I did the right things with telling him no and or punishing him. And funny, but now that he’s nearly 24, he agrees. And admits he though I was the worst mother EVER at times…. But that I may have been right.

  300. Perfect !
    No kid died from being taught respect.
    You can tell the ones that had sensible mothers…they grow up and are sensible themselves.

  301. Yes indeed. At least I no longer need to feel like I am the meanest mom on the planet. Ha ha, I’m tied!

  302. There is a difference between authoritarian parenting and authoritative. The distinction is dramatic and important.
    Stephanie is describing athoritative. You are in charge, kind, make the rules, but they are not arbitrary. There is a reason for them, they change as the kids grow and their needs change. The explanations are available, for a kid willing to listen.. If there is a good reason to redo a rule, it gets redone. If a rule is unnecessary, it tends to be removed. Reasonable requests are granted. Toeing the line just because it is there is not part of the deal.
    Athoritarian is bossy. The rules are what they are often based on whim. Protesting gets you in more trouble. Your needs may, or may not, be part of a rule. They don’t necessarily get explained, after all, there is often not a reason. A rule must be followed, even if it is unreasonable, or promotes nothing, simy because it is a rule. Kids of authoritarian parents often go permissive with their own kids.
    The “because I’m the mom, that is why” attitude is all there is with authoritarian parents….unlike athoritative parents, who actually mean, “I’m the parent and it is my job to make the rules to keep you safe healthy and learning”, even though they often shorten it to the former, in response to whining, but will expand to the longer in response to a proper question.
    Athoritarian parents tend to consider it their right to be in charge. Athoritative parents tend to consider it their responsibility to keep their kids in line.
    Athoritative parents are all about teaching limits. This doesn’t include systemic meanness. Nasty people or bullies are rarely athoritative.

  303. The meanest mom in the the world is the mom who doesn’t give her child the chemo drug because the child doesn’t want them. I have met these moms often as their child is in PICU in full blown sepsis. This is a mean mom

  304. I love you. You knew that, right?
    I never had children, but I know that being a mom is certainly the hardest job any human could do. And your young ladies are quite lovely, aren’t they?

  305. Amen. and ditto. I would tell my boys that I AM the meanest mom in the world. I have now had the oldest (32) and the youngest (27) both tell us ‘thanks’. Made it all worth it, and strengthened my resolve to pass it on to younger moms. 🙂

  306. lovely. well said. and Beth, you could unplug it, by the time they figure it out you’d have gotten a lock for the outlet.

  307. YES!!! With you every step of the way there, Steph! Making grown ups, not little emperors/empresses who think the world should bend to their whim! xx

  308. I LOVE THIS!!! I love it so much I just emailed it to my oldest son (32), who is a father to two daughters, a 6 mo. old and 4 yr old. The 4 yr old is now referred to by he and my daughter-in-law, as “a spirited child.” She doesn’t get away with it at my house. I must be the Meanest Grandma Around…but guess what? She loves coming to Grandma Patrice’s house! Ha ha. I’m NOT just a legend in my own mind!

  309. Amen. Just, AMEN. I would like to believe my two (3 and 1) will turn out the better for my “mean” ways. The sad thing is, it doesn’t take much. Following through on what you say the consequences of something will be – just a few times – will earn you the respect that will keep you from empty threats for a long time.

  310. AMEN! AMEN Stephanie – right on. I’m about your age and I don’t get how parents our age or lower speak about their kids as if they have no control over them: “They only eat breakfast in front of the tv.” “they don’t eat anything green.” and on it goes. My mother and aunts say these current parents are all afraid of their kids. It’s ridiculous.
    I’m a college professor and believe me the lack of “NO” or “mean-ness” (your word!) does not prepare them at all for the real world. They all think their feelings matter in college! You’d be amazed the excuses I hear! It’s ridiculous.
    You are not mean. Don’t even give that perspective a defense. You are GIVING them boundaries, giving them a little resistance to build up muscle that will serve them well in the real world – you are giving them an ethic that will serve them well in LIFE. We have to get up, clean up, work, serve others and try to laugh (and knit) along the way.
    Kids: I pray that picking your clothes up off the floor or not walking past your shoes on the way up the stairs will be the most difficult problems of your life. But they won’t be – and when the bigger stuff comes along – hopefully you’ll be made of tough enough stuff to handle it.

  311. Good grief, you wonder, don’t you?! I mean surely the adults are the adults and the kids are the kids – no??!!
    Sadly, this type of behaviour has now moved from North America to Europe and I almost can’t go out when kids/families are around without getting irate at how kids seem to control our world these days – yes, I’m the grump who will tell your child not to do something it shouldn’t out it public and nobody else is stopping it. Ugh. Switzerland has been ok till recently but now it’s coming from self-important Germans (just 20km away over the border!) and the attitudes are taking hold here… Sigh.
    No parent is perfect, but thankfully, our girls seem to have turned out pretty ok and I adore (and grin) to hear my eldest daughter enforcing sanity with her very lively son (and no, he doesn’t have ADD or need Ritalin… he’s just a very very active and inquisitive little 5 yr old!) and small daughter. Bingo.

  312. I do know exactly what you mean, and have seen frequently the effects of the opposite attitude on families through my work. Not pretty and very sad actually. Way sadder than the temporary frustration the kid feels in response to the “no”.

  313. At one point our daughter would come in from school and the TV would come on. Neither I or my husband could be home when she got home and her dad told her if he came in and the TV was on and homework wasn’t finished he was going to give the TV away. He did. She is now an adult living without a TV set.
    The best Mother’s Day gift I got from her, was the statement that she had been out eating and was next to a brat and she said that she was very thankful that she knew she had never been allow to act that bad in public. (Not at home either)

  314. Ha, I always tell my kids (12 & 17) that I’m their mum, not their best friend. And that I don’t do any of this just because I find it amusing or I enjoy making them suffer. They laugh at me and call me Sergeant Mummy, but they also pick up their debris, eat what I feed them and they’re a pleasure to take out and about. Some of my friends say I’m lucky to have such well behaved kids but really, luck has very little to do with it. It’s hard work but it’s worth it. And despite all my “meanness” they still love me,lol!

  315. When my 4 whined about something I wouldn’t let them do (they are now 27, 29,31 and 37) I proudly said, “because I am the meanest mommy in the world” and yes, I didn’t care. And I have been told since more than once, how glad they were that I was.

  316. From one Mean Mom to another…..You Go Girl!!!! I’ve called myself a Mean Mommy on many, many occasions over the years and absolutely meant it in exactly the way you do! My child thought I was terrible and horrible until they were all grown up. Then suddenly I was really smart and they thanked me for things like not letting them watch R rated movies at the age of 7 or 8. Limiting their computer and TV time. Not letting them to to a friends house where they were always unsupervised (but the friends were always welcome at my house and I helped them with homework and fed them just like I did my own.) My kids made mistakes and all, but they avoided the real biggies that snagged their friends. Thanks for writing down what I’ve been saying for years. It wasn’t my job to be my child’s best friend while they were growing up. It was my job to be a parent.

  317. Phew, I knew there were more of us out there! It’s not mean, it’s parenting 🙂

  318. Thank you!!! Going through this with a 17 year old right now. Nice to know I’m not alone!

  319. Amen, sista!
    I am the Meanest Auntie, but I’m still the one they prefer to spend time with. In secret, kids like rules and order. Sure, they will try to push the boundaries, but they are happiest when they know what is expected of them.

  320. Excellent! Wise people and parents understand that short term pleasure based on current circumstances is not the same thing as long term deep happiness. And they teach this to their children exactly because they love them.
    One of my favorite quotes “Don’t give up what you want most for what you want right now.”
    I want my son to be truly happy. He’s only 2 so he doesn’t understand what that means but I know some of the tools that will allow him to achieve real happiness. What kind of parent would I be if I did not give him those tools but robbed him of the habits of discipline, hope, compassion, patience and hard work just so that I could have an easier time for a few hours? (Not to mention it will only be easier for me in the short term if he doesn’t learn those habits. Not teaching him now will only create more problems in the future.)

  321. Perfect !!! I took pride in the fact that I was ‘The meanest mom on the block.” I am now the mom of two very responsible adults who value what I say.

  322. As the Stones said: “You don’t always get what you want but if try sometimes you might just get what you need.” And sometimes what children need is a firm and enforced no.

  323. More than anything I wish I could tell my mom “Thank you!” for being that sort of mom. At 16 I didn’t know nearly as much as I thought I did! I’m glad she was firm, and I’m shaking my head because I now understand all of those times she said, “Just wait till you have kids.” 🙂

  324. I was raised the same way, the only exception being my feelings on eating meat. I’m a vegetarian, the rest of my family is not. I turned into a fully functional adult, who is self sufficient. I feel if more parents raised their children this way today, the world would be a better place.

  325. Stephanie, you are awesome. If more parents didn’t care about their precious darlings’ feelings, we wouldn’t have a generation (or two) of self-centered, entitled people who don’t or won’t see the big picture (i.e. the world doesn’t revolve around you).
    You rock!! Now I’m off to not care about my children’s feelings.

  326. Just look at your children – they are now wonderful, responsible adults. It worked! (It worked with mine too).

  327. Right on!! I’m with you 100%. When the boys were growing up I always said the word I did best was “No”. They grew up to be responsible, caring, family men that I am so proud of.

  328. I totally agree with you, Stephanie.
    My teenaged son wanted to hang out on the main street and I said ‘No, that’s not the place for my son’ and he did the ‘You’re the meanest mum in the whole world!’ thing. I said ‘you will thank me when you are 30’.
    Well, he thanked me when he was 19 and living in a share house while he went to uni.
    My job was done!

  329. YES! Thank you for this post; I want to give a copy to all my young mom friends. I have no children, but love my nieces & nephew to pieces. One mother told me that she could never let me be the guardian for her child because I am too strict(this comment after I bought lunch for her & child, their choice, then child decided she wanted something else – I said no.)

  330. As the mother of a 40 something year old son, one of my best moments came when he was a teen being asked to go off with two brothers. His response to them: My Mom is real strict and she’d never allow it. In other words, he really didn’t want to go and knew I’d never buy it anyway!

  331. Hallelujah!!! My oldest once refused to do his homework & we made him go out to the baseball field and explain to his coach why he had to miss the game. He never did it again. Later we were telling a father whose son was misbehaving what we had done & he said he could never do that. My question, Why not?!? My 11 & 16 year old boys are always getting compliments for being such nice young men. That’s why we, as parents, do the things we do, hard or easy! Thanks, Steph for reminding parents that parenting may not be easy but it can be rewarding to see the almost finished product.

  332. Right On! Right On! Right On!
    If I’d only known that sentiment earlier from the manual they forgot to give me in the How to Be a Good Parent Class-that they didn’t register me for either.

  333. I once read the following:
    We have to teach Young people that *NO* is a complete sentence.

  334. I had a number of times when my kids were growing up where they “hated” me. I told them that that meant I was doing my job because my job wasn’t to be their friend, it was to be their parent. Now that they are all grown up I get to be a friend.
    I can remember asking more than once what part of no they didn’t understand.

  335. I am standing and cheering right now. You are not the only “mean mom” on the planet. It’s not always the easy path, but our children are worth it.

  336. Speaking as a grown child of a mean mom- I couldn’t be happier I had one! It helped me be an actual grown up when the time was needed.

  337. Thank God there are a few of us left in this world. I’m so tired of the “you can’t hurt their feelings, you’ll scar them for life” crap. You’ll teach them for life. I vote for you to get the “Mean” Mom award. My kids gave it to me years ago, and I was thrilled to accept it.

  338. I am a member of the mean mom club too. I tell my kids that its far easier to give in to them than to do what is right, but that I will do the right thing even if it is tough because I love them. I get a lot of comments about it (from strangers even!)but I believe that what you don’t learn when you are young is much more difficult to learn and correct when older.

  339. Right on! (and write on, lol). This post did not include anything knitterly, and that was good for us, too.

  340. The easier you make life for your children, the more you handicap them for adult life.

  341. THANK YOU!
    I agree completely and as the single parent of a wonderful but challenging 15 yo dtr your words are so reinforcing!
    It is more difficult to be the mean mom. It would be easier to give in to every whim. But I also have my “eye on the prize”.
    Thanks so much!

  342. I love you so much! I’m not a parent, so I have no right to an opinion about parenting, but I supervise a lot of young people and this “I don’t want to make them sad” style of parenting produces adults who are very hard to have as employees, because, as supervisors, it is not our job to worry about whether people want to do what their job requires of them. I’ve had lots of young supervisees who expected me to worry about their feelings when they didn’t want to do tasks that they were being paid to do (I’m not talking about abusive situations here–I’m talking about assistants who don’t want to make copies) and, I have to say, I really, really didn’t care about their feelings at those moments. Tell your kids to send me their resumes when they’re ready for jobs. I’d hire them in a second. Thanks for bravely sharing your opinion on this!

  343. I very much agree. Thank you for reminding me. I get asked how I can not let my kids watch tv on school nights. Really, I just don’t let them turn it on. When we first did it, it was hard for the family, now the older don’t even ask. The 4yo is still learning:-)
    I do try to balance all the no’s with yes though. If whatever it is really does not matter why say no. Is there really a reason for them not to ride their bike around the block? Duties finished, why be perverse and not let them. GO and play in the rain, yes it makes laundry for me but good memories for them (though I insist on bright colors:-)
    Some kids are harder than others to raise, but you can do it, you just have to search for the right approach and a big part of that is making them responsible for something and limiting them to safe places to learn that responsibility.

  344. Thank you for the timely post. I hope you don’t mind but I did take a part of this, revised a bit for my situation and printed it out to post on the fridge!

  345. I believe that if your kids don’t say that they hate you at least 20 times by the time they reach high school, then you haven’t done your job as a parent. Too many parents do what is easy instead of what is right and then the rest of us have to deal with their self-centered jerk kids. Every time my kids said “I hate you”, I would answer “but I love you”. They are grown now and have become wonderful young adults. My daughter is an honor student in college and my son is a volunteer Firefighter/EMT. I could not be prouder of either. And I don’t regret a moment of being the mean mom.

  346. I feel like you were in my brain! How did you get in there? But thank you so much for sharing this, more parents need to hear it.

  347. Amen! That was the way I was brought up, and that was the way I brought my 4 kids up… aged 19 through 26 now. I was told by not only my kids that I was “mean” but by some adults and family members as well. I have since received apologies from most of the aforementioned adults. My children are not by any stretch of the imagination “perfect”, not am I, but they are well loved and respected adults in their working lives. They have many friends and, you know, I have to say, raising adults and seeing the bigger picture is what is lost today. I work in a pre-k through 8 school, and am horrified at what I hear and see on a daily basis. The children, run their parents, are disrespectful to them and their teachers… what kind of adults will they be? I can imagine and it isn’t pretty 🙁 Way to go Stephanie!

  348. I’m not even an old hand (1 5 YO), but I am with you 100%. I don’t want to live in a house where I’m under the tyranny of the minority. “Suck it up, punk” is my answer, and if you can’t – please go vent in your room so I don’t have to listen. I so wish everyone had this philosophy, we’d be in a better, less entitled place.

  349. Yes! Very well put. Best advice I ever got on parenting came in the form of a question from my mother when my babies were little: “do you love your kids enough to say no?” I was a very well loved kid 🙂 and did the same for my own. They are all adults now, and as each of them hit around 21 or so, each said thank you to me for raising them with manners. Makes a mean mom proud.

  350. I was once asked by a pre-school teacher if I allowed my children to watch TV. She couldn’t believe that I did, because my boys did not show the “aggression and attitude” that the other kids (including her own son) showed, which she believed came from the Nickelodeon shows they were watching. My reply? We limited viewing time and were careful about what they watched.
    Many parents seem to forget that there are times when it is our responsibility to make choices FOR our children. Sad…. what will the future look like in a world full of adults raised with no limits?

  351. This is so timely! So many parents need to read this and practice it!! The T.V.( or any electronic gadget ) now days is used as a babysitter by the parents so that they can have “time to themselves”. Children less than 2 are put in front of it so mom ( or dad) can do “whatever”. We are now grandparents and used the word “no” regularly if needed when ours were young. Children should not run the home. The world is full of adults that raised themselves on their own terms and if you’re out in public or listen to the news you can surely see it!

  352. Yuuuuuup. Exactly. The world and life don’t care about someone’s feelings and children need to learn that they have to do sucky things every once in awhile. I’m firmly in the same camp that children shouldn’t be appeased left and right, ’cause when they grow up and into the world, that has disastrous consequences. That’s not real life!
    Wonderful philosophy.

  353. I work at a restaurant part time. You would NOT believe how most parents dining with their kids will allow a 5 year old to spend 10 minutes giving me instructions about what they want and don’t want on/in their food. I am not exaggerating. This strikes terror into my heart for the kind of humans that will result from this bad parenting. I already see this weird thread of entitlement in the 20-somethings I work with. Not all but most. Very scary when you extrapolate this to our future society. anyway, lovely and dead-on post, Steph!

  354. It’s so nice to know that there are parents like you out in the world – for so long I thought I was part of a minority. Great post!

  355. Huh, turn the TV off? One day I turned it off so many times in a half hour that I not only unplugged it, but then I cut the cord. NO one watched TV for quite a few days after that one. Shockingly, they got over it (although as adults now, they still discuss it).
    I wasn’t my child’s “friend” I was the mom, and like you, it’s my house and my rules and while I’m sorry you’re upset, that doesn’t change the facts.

  356. Reminds me of a story my mother’s Sunday School teacher told. Her little boy was upset about something, and he told she was “a mean mommy.”. The mother suggested if he was dissatisfied with her, perhaps he would like to find another mommy who wasn’t so mean. He responded, “but I like mean mommies.”

  357. Well said, Stephanie. My “kid’s” are in their 40’s now and we have time for being friends. I’m so blessed that they are happy, well-adjusted adults. Kid’s really are happier with rules and consequences, even when they act like their not. And your right – YOU ARE the parent and they aren’t experienced enough yet to make decisions that are in their own best interest.

  358. Right on!!!
    Also, it is amazing how, once I got out in the world and on my own, how much smarter my parents got about, well, almost everything!

  359. We say that our house is a benign dictatorship. There is a lot of freedom, and plenty of choices to be made, within the rules, but the rules themselves never change just because someone who isn’t an adult doesn’t like them.
    It’s worked well so far.

  360. Boy, do I ever agree with what you’ve said! My own children are grown (40s) but I never believed it was even fair to the kids to never set limits or say no and mean it. Now I’m a stay-at-home grandma while my daughter and son-in-law are at work and have been since my now 6 1/2 year old granddaughter was 3 months old. I’m also home schooling her for them. Do I sometimes wish I could be a spoil-her-rotten-and-send-her-home kind of grandma? Yes, I sometimes have a day that I long for that. Do I sometimes miss being selfish in my senior years and just doing what I want? Yes, on occasion. Is being with a six year old all day, 5 days a week anyway, a lot more tiring in my 60s than it was in my 20s? You bet. Does she ever tell me that I’m the world’s meanest grandma when I make her stop playing and do lessons or when I have to tell her no t.v. or no candy? Oh yeah. But it’s all worth it to be so close to my only grandchild, to be such a big part of her life, to be part of shaping her into a hopefully wonderful, compassionate, responsible, future adult? A resounding YES! Especially when we play together, laugh, cuddle and when she holds on to me and tells me that she loves me. I wouldn’t give it up for the world.

  361. Though I didn’t always practice this with my children they still turned out well BUT I do agree and because you said it so well, I am sharing it with my daughter who is raising three children, ages nine, six and three. I think it is advice that will strengthen her parenting philosophy. Thank you for sharing.

  362. What a wonderful posting! I am a mom of two myself and you are absolutely right in ALL you wrote! You are a wonderful mother because you make your children real adults: responsible and honorable and fully aware that one has to bear the consequences of one’s deeds in life.
    Bravo and thanks for the insight that I am not the only mean mom in the world! 😉

  363. Yeah! I am the mean mom in my family and I was raised by a mean mom. I’m not your friend. I’m the boss.

  364. Finally, someone not afraid to come out and say they said “NO” to their kid. Too many parents nowdays are afraid of their own children. What’s with that?? WE are the adults, the ones who have gone through life a bit, not them. We need to give them a sense of accountability, responsibility. If we always say yes, they never get that. Thank you Stephanie for addressing this. >stand up applause<

  365. Thank you. If only more parents were courageous enough to raise their children instead of the other way around. You are a wonderful mother and you have some pretty awesome kids to prove it! It doesn’t happen by accident or by default. Good job. PS – Kudos to your DH, too. After all, he was smart enough to pick you for the mother of his children.

  366. I’ve heard the same thing put this way: I’m not hear to be your friend, I’m here to be your parent.
    On a brighter note for those still working their way through this, my 27 year old daughter recently let me in on a few things. She is now glad that we didn’t (or weren’t able to) buy her everything she ever dreamed of; she has had to earn the money for special things and that makes them ever more precious. She has also mentioned more than once that she is glad we had her do things (like work, chores, learn how to fix stuff around the house, etc.); I do wish I had done more of that, though. She also said thank you for letting her be herself, for accepting how she needs to learn and working with that, with not freaking out over her piercings and tattoos; she was of age, not much for me to say about them (Good news…all tattoos can be covered by work appropriate clothing, some piercings have been abandoned.) There are not enough words to say just how proud I am of her and awed by the young woman she has become!

  367. Well said Stephanie! I am a “mean mom” too and I was raised by one. I love my mom desperately and respect the way she raised my sister and I. Cheers to all of us!!!

  368. this is sort of tongue in cheek. i tried to raise my kids that way, too.
    i guess my only objection to reforming the “breeders”, as one comment praised it, is that i’d be out of a job.
    I teach what used to be called “remedial” math at a college. In the last 11 years, I haven’t had more than a handful of students that I would consider truly “remedial” – truly learning disabled. Most of them have been capable, but their biggest handicap, their biggest “learning disability” is simply that they were taught that if they didn’t like it, that if it wasn’t easy, then they didn’t have to do it.
    to the tune of 600 to 700 students a semester at the college and university I teach at (about a third of students).
    Nearly every public (and most private) college or university requires a math placement test, regardless of grades, scores, major, anything. most community colleges do for their 2 yr degrees.
    So, these “breeders” get to pay for high school math twice – once by their taxes in high school and again by college tuition, which is much more expensive than taxes.
    But, it has kept me employed for a long time!
    I may get fired when i roll my eyes one too many times at someone who skipped a test because there was a more important video game.

  369. I am sending the link to this post to every parent I know, including one whose daughters are 26 and 30 but who still hasn’t learned to say no to them. Needless to say, they are not fiscally responsible; they know they can count on their parent to bail them out of any financial problem because he still doesn’t say no.
    Also needless to say, I totally agree with you. Another version of this that I used to say, when my kids would say they didn’t want to do something, was to tell them cheerfully, “That’s okay, you don’t have to want to; you just have to do it.” My daughter, who is now the mother of a newborn and stepmom to three boys, is already using that line, as well as freely telling them no. The three boys behave better with her than with their own dad.

  370. That sounds like a conversation I had so many times with so many other mothers, mostly my best friend from college. She would always whine at me, “how do you get your kids to do what you tell them?” Well, to start with don’t whine. Don’t do anything to make it seem as if everything you say is negotiable. And most of all, you have to expect them to obey. Too many mothers don’t expect their children to obey them. And if YOU don’t expect them to obey, why should they? And Allison, you are absolutely right. If you don’t expect your children to listen to you as little kids, they will NEVER respect you & will continue to ride roughshod over you as adults. My girls are 37 & 40 & both moved out on their own & self supporting soon after they graduated college. We have a respectful loving ADULT relationship now (that doesn’t mean I don’t help them – the older one is furloughed now & lives in DC – so I’ve offered to help tide her over the shutdown). My whiny friend’s 40 year old son still lives at home & has never had anything more than short term low paying jobs (ie, she is STILL supporting him). I remember when he was a teen & he went after a high school basketball coach with a metal table leg & all she could do was whine about how the coach had been so unfair, disciplining him by benching him. Even when I pointed out how the coach could’ve been seriously injured & her thug of a son could end up in jail, all she could do was complain about how unfair the coach was!

  371. Of course, their frontal lobes won’t be fully developed until about 23, so … 😉
    Stephanie, you are clever and funny and RIGHT. I just wish I had your application and essential non-laziness. Saying ‘no’, nicely (or not) requires follow-up and often a lot of effort, and it’s becoming apparent that my parenting style is the path of least resistance (aside from letting the 2.9 yr old breastfeed whenever he wants to. Not always, anyway) and perhaps I need to step away from the computer, or the book, or the knitting, and do some more parenting.

  372. I really, really liked this post. In fact, I’m sending it to my sister and then I am going to print it out and make all of my kids read it. I am a mean mother too!

  373. LOL! I laughed out loud. I have kids that eat fruit for sweet snacks and disdain soda. And people constantly ask me how I do that. The answer is pretty simple… there IS fruit in the house and there ISN’T soda in the house and that’s been the case since before they were born actually.
    I’ve been described as “draconian” by other parents. But oddly never by my kids. They think I’m a softie 🙂

  374. Right On!! Our society might be a bit “nicer” if everyone was a “mean mum”.

  375. Amen!!! I’ve sent this on to a number of my friends all of whom are mean mommies and happen to be teachers, too. I see too many parents who are afraid to lay down the law for their kids because they’re so afraid that their kids won’t “like” them or will in some way be psychologically damaged for life if they have natural consequences for bad behavior or if every minute of their day is not fun. As a mean mommy of now grown adults, I am so proud of how they conduct their lives and how respected they are by others for being responsible and considerate.

  376. Wish I could go back 19 years and be like this. Maybe my kids would respect me now.

  377. Yup. A Family is a Benevolent Dictatorship. Life is not fair & the guy with the money makes the rules! Get used to it Kid. Trained all my nieces, nephews & assorted clingons. Aunty’s Rules. Now that they’re all adults with kids of their own, I notice “Aunty’s Rules” are quoted unto the third generation. Hahahaha

  378. YES! a MILLION times. While I have not been blessed with kids (I’ve tried, they’re already starting off stubborn because they aren’t coming when called) but I work with kids frequently. I’ve learned to be mean. People have told me that my philosophy will change when I have kids, but I think that is just different styles of raising kids and that’s okay.

  379. Well, Stephanie, I hate to break it to you, but compared to my Mom, I think you might be a little bit soft. (Sorry if that hurts your feelings just a bit). Guess what? I am one of the four daughters she and my Dad raised this way over a span of 30 years. We have all been able to fend for ourselves from an early age, and have all required our own children to own the consequences of their decisions (i.e. whatever decisions their parent-Captains permitted them to make at any given age). We thank our parents all the time for being mercilessly consistent about not caring if we were upset when they knew they were doing the right things for us. We also tell them we love them fiercely, and are so fortunate we had parents who taught us the meaning of self-sufficiency, self-respect, and respect for others. I suspect that in a few years, you will hear this too!

  380. Yes!Yes!Yes! I have been a nanny for 20 years and parents not parenting is my biggest frustration. I lost count of how many times i have heard moms complain how their children just won’t do this or that. I am always asked how the children in my care do what is expected of them with little or no fuss. My short answer is I’m the adult and I’m in charge. Your version is fantastic! Cheers to all the mean mommies out there raising future adults. Yea!

  381. One of the proudest moments of my life was when my then-9-year-old daughter told the other girls in the Girl Scout troop I was newly leading, “My mom is pretty relaxed about a lot of things, but she has her limits, and you really don’t want to go beyond them!” It felt great to know that my daughter already knew what the limits were and that going beyond them meant consequences!
    By contrast, I saw my sister constantly negotiating with her kids in a sweet voice, and needless to say it never worked. I still don’t understand how we were raised by the same parents!

  382. Wow. You said it all. I love it. I love your sage advice and I almost peed myself laughing.

  383. TV is a cesspool from the pit of hell. We raised four awesome souls without it. My poor poor daughters were the only girls in the entire universe who did not see “Titanic” when it was released in their tweens. I wear my mean mom badge w pride.

  384. You got so many comments, and you are probably sick of reading one more, but really? I had to tell you how much I love this blog post. I am surrounded by a lot of mothers who give all their power to their kids, and it’s wearing on me. I was raised in a patriarchal, (dictator-like) German family, very, very strict. Although I don’t raise my kids like that, I am way stricter than any of my friends.
    Kind of like you! Yippie!
    Let’s not call ourselves mean moms. Let’s call ourselves moms with good boundaries.

  385. Our daughters are 30, 28 and 26: a primary teacher, a pharmacist and a marine biologist. I didn’t care about their feelings either. But see where sleep, nourishing food and atmosphere got them. I didn’t care about their feelings either.

  386. Love the post! We had the same parenting style for our boys (20 and 18) and they have not turned out too badly! We used to tell them when they were young that we don’t negotiate with terrorists. Also, we told them that if they did not like what we said, they could a.) call their Congressman and b.) call the UN Secretary General.
    The best reason to tell your children “no” is so that when they grow up they don’t have a problem in the workplace. Things are not always fair and that’s just the way it is.

  387. I have no children but taught hundreds of middle school students over thirty years. It’s amazing the number of families in which the child is the boss. Love this post!

  388. Thank you for this.
    I teach adolescents and parent a toddler, so I am constantly in the presence of children who have big feelings in conflict with my ideas about their “rights” and “privileges”: they think its recess and cookies, and I don’t.
    I need this reminder to stay tough. Tell that eighth grader to sit up straight and pull the toddler down from the back and when they rant and cry, to not care. I’m keeping this post close by. 🙂

  389. Thanks for putting into words what I’ve been trying to express to parents w/ younger kids. It’s up to them to teach their kids how to behave, eat well, clean up after themselves, etc. Kids aren’t born as perfect little angels that never make a mistake. They’re born and it’s our job to care for them and socialize them so that they can grow up to be reasonable, responsible adults that someone will be happy to live with. I get the you’re-so-mean looks too. And it usually comes from the people who have just complimented me on my teenagers. It doesn’t happen by accident. It happens with a lot of thought and hard-fought battles. But the stakes are high and it’s worth the effort.

  390. Wow. A lot of harshness here. We had rules in our household that were not open for negotiation but we never dismissed feelings.

  391. Thank you. The girls are 15 and we finally grew so tired of the ‘abuse’ and lack of respect that Mama and Dad are cracking the figurative whip. I needed to read this.

  392. WOW there are a lot of us “meanest mother in the world”.
    The following exchanges were common as my girls were growing up.
    Child: I hate you. Me: sorry I love you, but I don’t like you much right now.
    Child: That’s not fair. Me: Life is not fair.
    Child: You don’t treat me as nice as you treat my
    sister(s). Me: All of you have the same complaint, I must be doing my job right.
    Child (in the morning): My stomach hurts. Me: Go to school and if you don’t feel better by mid morning, call me or dad and one of us will pick you up. (Never got that call)
    Child: Whining about something. Me: When you can talk like a big girl, well talk about it.
    The TV did not get hidden but occasionally all the wires hooking it to the cable and VCR mysteriously
    The girls tell me that most of there friends were afraid of me when they were in school. Because I expected a certain behavior in my home and made sure they knew it.
    My youngest had a bit of rough time after high school and ended up being a single mom at 19. She and her son lived with us. Her dad and I would care for the baby while she was at work but would not baby sit in the evening so she could go out with friends. Her friends were always saying “have your mom watch him.” She would tell them “my mom watches him so I can work, he’s my responsibility once I get home. I have to find a sitter if I want to go out.”
    All 3 of my girl are well behaved, responsible adults and well on their way to earning “The world’s meanest mom” title. I am so proud.

  393. Amen! As a middle school teacher, I can tell you I’ve heard about every excuse for poor parenting that there is. (“I turned off the tv, but then he just turned it back on.” Are you serious?!?) To cave to kids’ every desire is enabling and irresponsible (and I’m a mom to 2 kids, too)!

  394. Love, love, love your thoughts and actions on this topic! I teach high school students and I wish more of their parents were looking to the goal of raising responsible grown ups. Yay, you!

  395. Yes, yes, yes! The point is to be a parent and raise kiddos that will be competent adults one day. Children don’t need their parents to be buddies, they need their parents to be PARENTS, and that includes saying no, and actually meaning it.

  396. I don’t think you can be the world’s meanest mom, because I’m pretty sure that’s me…
    All kidding aside, you nailed it. Kids need parents who care more about their health and safety than whether their pwecious widdle feewings got hurt by hearing the word “NO” a few (million) times.
    Some days the little darlings get on Mommy’s last nerve. And then Mommy sends Daddy a humorous story via email about “The Meanest Mom EVER” and how she made the kids do their chores, wouldn’t let them ride bikes outside during thunderstorms, and actually forced them to finish all their school work, even the yukky math problems they hate forever.
    After that, Mommy is back to laughing instead of having urges to HULKSMASH something, and the kids have gotten over the trauma of Math Problems, and everybody survives.
    My kids know how to:
    clean a bathroom
    sweep a floor
    use a vacuum
    wash dishes/run a dishwasher
    do laundry
    make sandwiches at a bare minimum, they’re learning to read/follow recipes, and cook more complex items as they gain responsibility.
    My goal is that one day they will be functioning adults. My hope is that we will also be friends, but whether or not they “like” me on any given day is inconsequential to the rules of the house.

  397. I LOVE this! You’re an awesome parent. Once your children have kids they’ll look back at what you did and how you raised them and they’ll get it. It all comes back around.

  398. I thought my Mom was the meanest Mom in the world, but….
    I am 51, and my brother is 48.. Mom always told us she is our Mom, not our friend! Looking back, she did a pretty good job,

  399. As a soon-to-be first-time mom, I’m going to save this post and read it many times. Thank you for articulating all of this!

  400. Yay you!!!
    It takes a mom who truly loves her children beyond measure to not give a rat’s patooty about their feelings! Your girls are blessed to have a mom more concerned about being a good parent than being their “friend”. They can search for friends anywhere…they always know where to find mom.

  401. Preach on Harlot!!! Should those words be in the same sentence?
    You may be the “meanest mom”, but I have to be the “oldest, meanest, mom”. I have 2 girls in their 40s, but only 1 has children. Sadly since she was the older one, we have heard many, many, times “I’m not going to raise my girls like you raised us.” And she didn’t….notice I said sadly. Her kids are doing okay, so far, but have never heard the word “no” or a raised voice toward them. She works 3 jobs, gets no help with meals, cleaning or laundry, etc. and doesn’t understand why. Come to think of it, I haven’t heard her say how she’s not raising them lately – finally! Keep up the good work….it’ll pay off.

  402. I can’t believe you just wrote those things because I’ve been cooking healthy good stuff all day and worrying that certain kids might not “care to eat it.” WOO HOO! Thank you, Steph!

  403. Oh thank g*d.
    When my sons therapist suggested I “move his chore of emptying and filling the dishwasher to the weekend, when he has less other things to do” (versus to whenever the thing needs to be emptied or filled) I knew she was the one who needed help and not us. And still I doubted my mothering skills, because she has a title and I don’t. But I’m also pretty sure she has no kids of her own (Oh please don’t let her have kids, that would be frightening).

  404. Amen Sista! I have 10 kids and I have done exactly that. They’re mostly raised now and all productive members of society. I see the topic of your next book, no?

  405. I have twin boys who have autism, they’re nine now (I am staggered every time I write that – I swear they were seven just three weeks ago).
    The way I describe my method of boundary-setting is that I am a wall. A nice wall, with a pretty painting and some padding on it even, but a wall nonetheless. They can hurl themselves against that wall all they want, but they are never, EVER getting through.

  406. I don’t have children yet but I think you have the ideal outlook on raising them. It really bothers me when parents are in public, telling kids “Don’t do that” but then not actually stopping them. All it does is teach the kids that their parents don’t mean what they say. Hopefully I’ll remember this when I do have little ones…

  407. Thank you! I always said I was training adults, not raising kids, which tended to piss off insecure authority figures (like lots of teachers). It must have worked; 2 of the 3 graduated college (paid their own way too, since the schools they wanted were not in my budget), and all 3 are people I’m happy to say are my friends now that their frontal lobes are fully developed.
    I especially laughed over the idea of cooking a special dinner for any of them. They all knew where the jar of peanut butter was, if they thought dinner wasn’t up to snuff (and that they’d better clean up after themselves when they were done).

  408. At first, I thought your non-knitting “rant” posts, (“I don’t care what anyone says, puppies ARE cute!!”) were just to add some personal tones to your blog, but now I wonder, do they coincide with a book release? We all know you’re a good writer, does your publisher ask you to post something that will get 700 responses?

  409. Thank you, Stephanie. I’ve learned a lot about being a mom from you, or rather had it reinforced after learning it from my parents. It’s so nice to read the comments and know there are so many of us out here.
    My kiddo is just three, but I’ve lost count of the number of times we’ve told her, “It’s okay to cry because you’re sad, but it is not okay to whine – that isn’t going to change it.”

  410. Thanks Stephanie, I wish I had been a meaner mother. One thing I firmly believe is that children need to know someone one else is in charge, because that means that they are safe and looked after. To allow children to run things takes away their security. They also need to know reasons and that rules aren’t arbitrary. I have always admired your parenting.

  411. The older I get, the more clearly I realize that what you feel isn’t as important as what you do. It’s the opposite of what pop culture teaches the kids (and us) but it’s true.

  412. I got so tired of hearing “you are a mean mom!” that I made a certificate World’s Meanest Mom and made my kids sign it. I hung it on the wall in the living room. There, now you don’t have to complain about that any more. But my kids are 25 and 28 now, and productive members of society. So I must have done something right.

  413. I just remembered something after reading one of the posts where the son’s therapist gave parenting instructions.
    My son was 3 and in nursery school. Once day apparently he spit on the teacher. Up until that point he had not spit on anyone, and never did afterwards either. Curious! the teacher and owner of the school sat me down and told me it would be beneficial for me to take parenting classes. I gave them two options. I either pull him out of school ( including my money) or they stick to teaching and I’ll do what parents have been doing for 100s of years – parenting.
    Needless to say he stayed in school, there was never another incident – funny how that happens.
    he is now 26, married and has his own home, and still doesn’t spit on people!

  414. Love it!! You have summed up my parenting beliefs nicely.
    (Mum to Sean 24 and Claire 21)

  415. This hit a pet peeve of mine that runs in both directions. Part of the problem is people confuse acknowledging feelings with trying to “make it better.” It is fine to tell your kids “That toy looks very cool to you” or “you’d be really disappointed to miss that party.” It doesn’t mean you buy them the toy or let them go to the party. Nothing wrong with saying “You’d be really disappointed to miss that party. No parents will be there and I don’t think it’s safe.” Kids are entitled to their feelings, and they will be disappointed/frustrated/scared/unhappy with some (many!) of our parenting choices. Their feelings are valid. Letting them know their feelings are valid and you understand their feelings is important. It’s also important to protect them and expect age-appropriate responsible behavior from them. By setting limits, which can cause these feelings, we give them the gift of learning how to deal with and overcome “bad” feelings.

  416. Yes and thank you for thus post. My kids are still young 3yr and 8 yr, but when my oldest shouted the first time ” I don’t like you”. I knew I was on the right track for parenting.,

  417. My sister-in-law once complained to me about her then 13 year old daughter’s having been very rude to her (she had indeed been very rude). I asked what my SIL’s response had been, and apparently it had been ‘nothing’. I suggested that my niece perhaps ought to have lost a privilege, her mobile phone, I suggested. ‘She’d hate me’ was the response. And I remember thinking ‘Well, no she won’t, and anyway, who cares?’
    I didn’t carry on because clearly there was no point, but the same thing did strike me then – my niece’s ‘feelings’ in all this were the least important part of it. For me, and for my children, it’s important that they understand that it’s unacceptable for them to behave that way, and that their behaviour has consequences. I make the rules, as you say, and they may not like them, but how they feel about them? Not my problem.

  418. My sister in law was fretting that my niece (age 10) as being bullied. She balked at my suggestion she go to the teacher because my niece really liked this girl and had told my sister in law that the bully was only mean sometimes so it was okay. SIL didn’t want to go against niece’s wishes–keep in mind bully went so far as to cut niece’s hair because bully thought it looked better short!! I informed SIL she was in charge of niece and niece’s well-being and niece’s wishes were just that wishes. SIL stated “But I don’t want to hurt her feelings!” It left me wishing SIL was a mean momma.

  419. That is exactly how I raised my five children (now ages 43 – 49) and they are all stable responsible and fun adults. We need WAY more of us (mean moms) and less of the whiney wimps that are currently churning out the brats I encounter every day. Arrrgggghhhh.

  420. Hell, yeah! Years of classroom teachings have inured me to puupy eyes and pouting sadface.
    “Sucks to be you!” is my cheery reply to “WAHHHH I don’t get my way!” moments. Life around me is pretty chill – Avengers for the 50th time? Sure! Covered in dirt and sweat? Just let me turn the hose on you before you come in! I step on a Lego? Pick it up, and DON’T REPEAT THAT WORD I YELLED UNTIL YOU’RE 18! – but homework before video games, bedtime, compassion and manners? Don’t eff with me; way meaner kids than you have tried and failed.
    It’s my responsibility to do my damndest to lead you to becoming a empathetic, polite, self-assured, independent and responsible adult who’s rarely an asshole, and that means saying “No” and letting you deal. And I’m not sorry at all.

  421. Hoorah! Well put! My thirty-something’s were all raised this way!
    Be brave young parents! You won’t regret it when they are 15 or so……….

  422. I only read the first few comments, but stopped at #6 when that person echoed my thoughts about the US Congress having needed parents like you. Damn, I was just thinking, if only Stephanie was a USian instead of a good, sensible Canadian — we could elect her prez or queen of the world or something. These are some of the truest words ever spoken on behalf of parenting: “I’m creating grownups” and we certainly have a severe shortage of such persons in the world today — of all races, creeds and nationalities. Dude, you are so right on.
    Luckily for my potential children, I never had them. I have only learned the wisdom of these words in my 50’s and 60’s, far too late for any hapless offspring I might have had. But as a teacher, I see the lack of this wisdom in the parents of far too many of my students. I do a lot of tongue-biting, feeling it’s not smart giving child-rearing advice from my backseat position. However, my husband has pointed out that I have been in the teachering game long enough to have the privilege of giving advice under that heading.
    Thanks for your clarion call to parents — my interpretation of this blog post — and may the comments go on and on and on…….

  423. Hi Stephanie,
    What about writing a book about living with children (including some knitting patterns for children)?
    I am sure it would be very much appreciated…

  424. My mother-in-law,who raised eleven kids and did a very beautiful job of it, always said that being a parrent wasn’t a popularity contest.

  425. there is a poem I love . I think you will appreciate it
    “The Meanest Mother”
    I had the meanest mother in the whole world. While other kids ate
    candy for breakfast, I had to have cereal, eggs or toast. When others
    had cokes and candy for lunch, I had to eat a sandwich. As you can
    guess, my supper was different than the other kids’ also.
    But at least, I wasn’t alone in my sufferings. My sister and two
    brothers had the same mean mother as I did.
    My mother insisted upon knowing where we were at all times. You’d
    think we were on a chain gang. She had to know who our friends were and
    where we were going. She insisted if we said we’d be gone an hour, that
    we be gone one hour or less–not one hour and one minute. I am nearly
    ashamed to admit it, but she actually struck us. Not once, but each
    time we had a mind of our own and did as we pleased. That poor belt was
    used more on our seats than it was to hold up Daddy’s pants. Can you
    imagine someone actualy hitting a child just because he disobeyed? Now
    you can begin to see how mean she really was.
    We had to wear clean clothes and take a bath. The other kids always
    wore their clothes for days. We reached the height of insults because
    she made our clothes herself, just to save money. Why, oh why, did we
    have to have a mother who made us feel different from our friends?
    The worst is yet to come. We had to be in bed by nine each night
    and up at eight the next morning. We couldn’t sleep till noon like our
    friends. So while they slept-my mother actually had the nerve to break
    the child-labor law. She made us work. We had to wash dishes, make
    beds, learn to cook and all sorts of cruel things. I believe she laid
    awake at night thinking up mean things to do to us.
    She always insisted upon us telling the truth, the whole truth and
    nothing but the truth, even if it killed us- and it nearly did.
    By the time we were teen-agers, she was much wiser, and our life
    became even more unbearable. None of this tooting the horn of a car for
    us to come running. She embarrassed us to no end by making our dates
    and friends come to the door to get us. If I spent the night with a
    girlfriend, can you imagine she checked on me to see if I were really
    there. I never had the chance to elope to Mexico. That is if I’d had a
    boyfriend to elope with. I forgot to mention, while my friends were
    dating at the mature age of 12 and 13, my old fashioned mother refused
    to let me date until the age of 15 and 16. Fifteen, that is, if you
    dated only to go to a school function. And that was maybe twice a year.
    Through the years, things didn’t improve a bit. We could not lie
    in bed, “sick” like our friends did, and miss school. If our friends
    had a toe ache, a hang nail or serious ailment, they could stay home
    from school. Our marks in school had to be up to par. Our friends’
    report cards had beautiful colors on them, black for passing, red for
    failing. My mother being as different as she was, would settle for
    nothing less than ugly black marks.
    As the years rolled by, first one and then the other of us was put
    to shame. We were graduated from high school. With our mother behind
    us, talking, hitting and demanding respect, none of us was allowed the
    pleasure of being a drop-out.
    My mother was a complete failure as a mother. Out of four
    children, a couple of us attained some higher education. None of us
    have ever been arrested, divorced or beaten his mate. Each of my
    brothers served his time in the service of this country. And whom do we
    have to blame for the terrible way we turned out? You’re right, our
    mean mother. Look at the things we missed. We never got to march in a
    protest parade, nor to take part in a riot, burn draft cards, and a
    million and one other things that our friends did.
    She forced us to grow up into God-fearing, educated, honest adults.
    Using this as a background, I am trying to raise my three
    children. I stand a little taller and I am filled with pride when my
    children call me mean.
    Because, you see, I thank God, He gave me the meanest mother in
    the whole world.
    written by Bobbie Pingaro (1967)

  426. My kids are probably tired of hearing, “I am not your friend, I am your mother”. Also, “I am not ASKING you, I am TELLING you.” Somebody has to wear the big girl pants, and that’s me. So my kids have to toe the line, learn respect and become people who are agreeable to be around. It’s my house, my rules I’m not ashamed to tell them (0r anyone else) that.

  427. This. Exactly. People are so bloody worried about “leaving a better world for the children” (and I’ll keep my thoughts on how that’s working out to myself) when they should be at least as worried about leaving some better children for the world. And some are truly failing. Miserably.

  428. Melissa – yes yes yes. Acknowledge the feelings and then educate the young. Drawing the line is good; it is how we teach. However, if we do not help our children sort out feelings and good judgement, we have not done our job. If we do not teach them the thought process we haven’t really taught them anything other than that authority rules.

  429. YOU ARE WRONG! You’re not the meanest mother in the world, I am, and I can prove it. I have the tiara and sash in my closet. I wear them proudly on many days. For confirmation of my claim, I have three teenaged daughters in various degrees of angst and embarrassment at any given time.

  430. As the grown daughter of a mean mum, thanks! Mean mums are the best kind to have and if I ever have children, I hope I can be as mean as my mom was.

  431. In our house the bottom line was ‘The Parental Chant’ = In this house there are rules for children; there are NO RULES for grown ups!” (i.e. I am making/enforcing the rules, (because I am the grown up) so deal with it)

  432. You go Stephanie! You’re not the meanest Mom, you’re one of the great ones!
    I want to scream when I hear people start a sentence with the words “My child won’t let me…”! I just want to scream at them to grow some b&^%s and BE THE PARENT!
    Sounds like you already have some and have been being the parent. That’s so awesome!

  433. Steph,
    I know you meant your post literally and rightly so. But as a citizen of the US of A, I can’t help wishing you could be here to apply some of your boundary wisdom to the crazy members of the Republican party in our Congress who threaten right now to severly damage the world’s economy. They need to hear that feelings don’t matter when one needs to do what is right and necessary. They must all have been raised by permissive appeasing moms and they would destroy our country’s economy rather than lose face. Where are “mean” moms when we really need them. Sorry to politicize this but like lots of thinking folks in our country I am angry and scared.

  434. I so agree! As someone said the other day about their daughter (aged 4) – she’s a kid – she doesnt know what she wants.

  435. 100% terrific. I agree wholeheartedly dearest Stephanie. Watching two year olds run an entire family is sad. You are the best!

  436. Giant virtual high-five to you. And that’s coming from a homeschooling WAHM of a 10yo and a 6yo. They’re with me 24/7, and if I cared about their opinion on every decision, I’d be clinically insane by now. Just back from a family vacation and braced for full-on detox this week as we re-establish our routine. I think I have some soundproof earmuffs somewhere.

  437. Your team analogy is perfect–every team needs a captain and the captains are the parents. I’m going to use this. Thank you!

  438. YES!!! I didn’t even read the other comments because I was so anxious to scroll down here and type, “YES! ” I have 9 kids of my own and I shudder to think what life would be like if my kids ‘ feelings ruled… go! Here’s to all the mean mothers!

  439. Kids don’t know what’s good for them. We’re supposed to teach what’s good for them. It’s called ‘Mom Up’ (in case the newbies weren’t sure). Face it, every day someone’s idea of their ‘personal rights’ gets challenged, can’t avoid it. A parent who is a sucker is actually just working it a way for their own feelings/personal rights to get met (think about it).
    Anyhoo… well said Steph.

  440. AMEN. cheers to ‘mean’ moms (including myself, with the teenager who has just gone off to university with the mean values of his mother to fall back on when he needs to make decisions). i have a friend whose daughter threatened to call the kids’ help line when she wasn’t getting her way. my friend suggested she could go live with those people then, see if they would let her have an iPhone. 😛

  441. I had my first baby 2 weeks and 6 days ago – thank you – reading your blog today, this is exactly how I was raised. And now exactly what I will do with my son
    (although right now he is so adorably amazingly perfectly wonderful that I am putty in his tiny little hands 🙂 )

  442. WOW! I wish more parents were like you. You sound just like my mom. I hope to be a mean mom too when I have kids.

  443. I love the line you used – “I’m making grownups.”
    One of my favorites was “Because I said so.”
    One area I never quite understood from other parents was the bedtime battle baloney. Even when ours was tiny, you couldn’t fully rock her to sleep because when you laid her down, she’d wake up. Maybe this was a good thing? Because we worked out a pattern where we’d sing to her and rock her till she was calm and relaxed, and then lay her in her bed and kiss her good night and leave. Wild play at bedtime was not on the agenda, and gee, is there a connection there? Oh, there was an occasional squawk, but mostly it was just fine.
    She’s now a college sophomore, but when she’s home she still likes one of us (we always traded off who put her to bed, so just one) to come to her room and say good night and sing her childhood bedtime songs. She doesn’t require it, but she likes it, and sometimes we both go to bed before she does, so it doesn’t happen. Oh, and she’s got no problem just going to bed on her own either.

  444. Stephanie, can you explain some of the rather odd comment formats? Is there a French translator converting them or something?

  445. I have no kids, but reading about all you awesome “mean” Moms gives me hope for society! Thanks for saving the future for everyone.

  446. Many of us seem to have the honour of being in this club.
    I, too, limited tv when my kids were younger. I approved commercial-free childrens’ shows (Mr Rogers, Sesame Street, along those lines), videos (classic Disney, Looney Tunes and other animation, and age-appropriate documentaries and “classic” movies). AND I watched them with them, most of the time (just like I read with them, and walked/biked with them, and played with them). Boy, was I mean. I ended up with kids (now 23 and 26) who have a wide cultural vocabulary, who are both film buffs, who have a disdain for “crap” info-tainment, who have a grasp of 20th century history and follow current events, who can carry on a conversation with just about anyone, and who generally believe that the book is almost always better than the movie. Oh yes, and they VOTE, and they recognize the very great luck they had in being born in Canada.
    Sadly, however, they can both very successfully debate me now (damn bright kids with critical thinking skills)…

  447. THANK YOU! Seriously, it’s sort of refreshing to hear from someone who is also a mean mom. I often feel like I’m in the minority. I had mean parents too, and I am so thankful I did!

  448. And this is why we see your beautiful daughters looking happy at family gatherings and posing (mostly happily!) in knitwear for you – they have learned what matters from their terrific mum.

  449. Totally know what you mean. I was brought up the same way. Love when parents know how to parent.
    Love my mom and am so thankful she knew how to parent.

  450. If you’re mean, I’m Ivan the Terrible. Seriously, you’re not mean; you’re a mom, and that’s a hard job. I’ve done the same as you – told my girls NO and meant it. Ask my middle daughter about the time I took away her mouse and keyboard for a month.

  451. I’m betting you do or will get the same comments I get from my 29 year-old daughter. “Why did you have to instill such a good work ethic in us? I’m the only one in my office who actually works.” That work ethic has served her well. She’s the department manager and well respected by her bosses.

  452. Best post EVER!!! From a mom to a 6 and a 4 year old, which means I still have a lot of mothering training to go….

  453. I LOVE this and I really think if my kids read this they could be convinced I wrote it. I have been telling them for years that I am trying to win Meanest Mommy and now that they are 11 and 8 I think they are starting to understand why. Some of the “meanest” things we do from a childs perspective are some of the most cherished lessons learned as an adult…at least I hope so.

  454. Lurker here: I must be the most boring child in the world. I think my mom and I had all of ONE argument when I was a teenager. I never had a curfew because I never needed one; I never wanted to do anything stupid. Neither of my brothers were idiotic about things, either. Drugs and booze? Sorry, but I’d have to have hung out with the morons who did them if I wanted to do them, and I was always in the middle of a book about Jupiter or rockets or something.
    You all make my childhood seem incredibly boring. My parents weren’t the meanest people in the world nor were they pushovers. They were human beings.

  455. Amen! I’m showing this to my kid next time we have this argument. I’m raising a child that his bio parents let run free like some sort of wild animal, and it has been a challenge. I didn’t get him until he was 16, and it’s been two years, but for the most part, he’s getting it now. We’re worn out, but he’s turning into one heck of a good kid. Thank you for the reinforcement that we’re doing it right….

  456. My son, who just turned 30, recently thanked me for being mean and in the process teaching him honesty, empathy, responsibility and the value of hard work. He said that he now feels sorry for his friends who didn’t have me when they were teenagers and now don’t have lovely lives because they didn’t learn the skills and values they needed. And he now appreciates how difficult it was for me to be both cheerleader and despot. That conversation made up for a lot of the difficulty I endured to ensure that he and his sister turned into the kind of people I always knew they could be. I have wonderful children.

  457. Thank you so much for this, Stephanie.
    I’ve sent this to my tween boy to read. We kind of had an…issue… last night right along these lines and your words go a very long way to helping me explain why I do what I do as a parent, including enforcing school night bed times 😉

  458. I was not the meanest mom in the world, but I was the TV Nazi. No TV Monday through Thursday and no R rated movies. They both survived, and indeed flourished, even though they assured me at the time that their lives were ruined.

  459. I’ve been reading your blog for a long time. Some make me think, most make me sit here and laugh all by myself. This one made me proud. I agree 100%. I never wanted to be my child’s friend. I was the parent, the one in charge. We had some very tough times, but now are friends, and I am proud of her as a productive women. Thanks Stephanie for explaining it so clearly.

  460. This, this, a thousand times, this. Forget knitting books, please write a parenting book! I cannot tell you how many times I have to explain exactly this to people in terms of my parenting style.

  461. We are a VERY LARGE club, we mean moms! And I am proud to be a member! Well said, Stephanie!

  462. It’s not so easy ( not that parenting is easy lol) to do this with a child of autism.

  463. Bwahahaha! That’s exactly how I treat my 5 year old, and I know some people think I am a horrible mom,(she’s not old enough to think I am the meanest mom in the world yet, the fear of god, me, hasn’t worn off) but my child is the only one who behaves. Glad I am not the only one who doesn’t care about their kid’s feelings.

  464. Well, apparently I parented all wrong, and I could never be consistent about the rules I tried to make and my elder daughter could always badger with logic me until I said, “yes”. But, *whatever*, they are now good adults, so I guess that treating them with love and resilience wasn’t as bad as it would have been with a different personality kid, and the other parts were pretty good to make up for what I did “wrong”.
    They both called home from college to thank me for being a decent person, unlike some of the horrible parents of their friends. Friends told my kids of neglect and abuse and abandonment, and it probably was not ALL the outraged feelings from having a “mean” mom, but having parents that truly were MEAN. Those are very different things.

  465. I don’t agree with all your rules, but I COMPLETELY agree with your parenting style. My mom took a similar tactic with me and my sister. Don’t like what’s for dinner? You’re six, there’s the bread and peanut butter. Make yourself a sandwich. Bored of sandwiches? Guess you’d better eat what I cooked. As I got older, I learned to cook and could therefore make scrambled eggs or something if I really hated what mom had made (it is worth noting that my mom is a truly horrible cook). No, you can’t watch Spongebob. Why? Because it’s stupid, childish humor. Why would you want to watch something so dumb? Come on, let’s watch Monty Python instead. I could watch anything I wanted, whenever I wanted so long as we had it on video or it aired on PBS and my schoolwork was done for the day. Computer games? Sure, whenever you want as long as your school/chores are done. No Bedtime. You’re tired ’cause you didn’t go to bed early enough? Guess you’d better go to bed early tonight. Nope, you’re not sleeping in.
    I turned out just fine.

  466. I don’t agree with all your rules, but I COMPLETELY agree with your parenting style. My mom took a similar tactic with me and my sister. Don’t like what’s for dinner? You’re six, there’s the bread and peanut butter. Make yourself a sandwich. Bored of sandwiches? Guess you’d better eat what I cooked. As I got older, I learned to cook and could therefore make scrambled eggs or something if I really hated what mom had made (it is worth noting that my mom is a truly horrible cook). No, you can’t watch Spongebob. Why? Because it’s stupid, childish humor. Why would you want to watch something so dumb? Come on, let’s watch Monty Python instead. I could watch anything I wanted, whenever I wanted so long as we had it on video or it aired on PBS and my schoolwork was done for the day. Computer games? Sure, whenever you want as long as your school/chores are done. No Bedtime. You’re tired ’cause you didn’t go to bed early enough? Guess you’d better go to bed early tonight. Nope, you’re not sleeping in.
    I turned out just fine.

  467. Coming from a child, that’s how my mum parented us and while I screamed hate and hellfire at her from time to time, I have to agree that this method does work well…. don’t always agree with it, but it works

  468. I read but I lurk more than comment, but I have to comment on this. I read part of this post to my roommate and hubby and I have to say I think hubby and I are going to have to have a long talk about parenting styles before we have children. I Agree completely with what you said. The roommate is in the mind that people who raise kids like this will be the victum of elder abuse when they get older, because when you treat your kids like shit, you get treated like shit when you’re older.
    I was raised like this. I had to learn to not only listen to my parents but I had to listen and respect my aunts and grandparents. I could go outside and play after supper, after my homework was done, and I helped clean the dishes. If I didn’t come home when the street lights came on, mom was yelling out the door for me, and you ran when you heard your name.
    I had my Saturday chores of cleaning/dusting the coffee tables and watering the plants. I got my bike taken from me because I did something stupid and there was no Negotiating in getting it back. It was gone for the allotted time.
    Me and my brother were taught independence and a work ethic. One thing that I will always remember daddy saying is “There will always be a room here for you with food on the table, but if you want anything else you’re going to have to get it yourself.”
    Now before the age of 30, I’m a supervisor at a local pharmacy. In charge of large amounts of money daily. Hubby and I had the money to take a vacation to New Zealand to see his sister (The first time for him seeing her in 10 years) and we just got a brand new car(SUV). We’re saving money and getting our own place in the spring. My mom is one of my best friends. We don’t talk every day, but when we haven’t talked in about three days, one of us is calling to check in. I still call them mommy and daddy.

  469. Thank you. I know I was the meanest Mom in the world. My 24-year-old just confirmed that I was, though she doesn’t seem to mind as much now. And it was easy to avoid the TV by not owning one. Teenagers being home by midnight on weekends might have been the most difficult.

  470. Thank you!! I agree with everything you said! I am the only parent I know that limits my kids tv time! And I make them go outside and play if the weather is nice enough. I have 4 kids under 5 and sometimes I feel like giving in to certain things, but then I remind myself of the people I want them to be. And I don’t want them to be spoiled brats! Plus, if they realized they could overtake me I would quickly be screwed! My parents were very strict and my mom and I are now very close and we talk almost everyday. I told my husband that my 4 year old told me that she wished her grandma was her mom and my husband said that I must be doing something right! I love my children more than anything and I try to make their world fun and full of learning, but when it comes to the battle of wills I am the adult and will always win! 🙂

  471. Wow. As a mom of an 11, 9, 5, and 3 year old and a three week old…I so needed this. I’d almost been convinced I wasn’t actually in charge, and would never be again.

  472. Oh my,I cared way to much about my kids feelins and I made a damn mess of all three of them.

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  474. I remember my daughter,who is now a grand mother, coming home at age 14 and announcing she calling me Darlene. And we would be friends.
    And me telling her that I didn’t need any more friends and that she would be calling me mom.
    Turns out I was a mean mom..who knew?
    Thank you for sharing and I know your girls, like my children will appreciate the fact that you cared enough to be their parents.

  475. You are my twin. I have a thing with my sister where I call her (she has raised 2 fabulous daughters) and tell her how I was the WORST mother in the WORLD today!

  476. Thank you! You said it so well. We’re making grownups. I was a mean mom too, and now I look at my well-adjusted, competent and confident 21-year-old and know that it was all (yup, all that crying and carrying on!) absolutely worth it.

  477. Word.
    And after all, one’s emotional and spiritual well-being is enhanced significantly by hearing “no” when appropriate. What a dull and hopeless world it would be to get what you want – when you want it – all the time!

  478. YOU ARE MY NEW HERO! I want to be a mom just like you, and I’ve been struggling with these things the last few months with my 4 year old. I’m officially taking this post to heart.
    CHEERS to Stephanie!

  479. Amen. It is not our job to make our children happy, it is our job to make them prepared to deal with the world when we aren’t there.

  480. “because they’re part of the family and we’re on the same team but dudes, that team has Captains and it’s the parents and we’re looking at the big picture”
    I’m a mama to 14yo girl(single for most her life), and a newish step-mama to 4 gorgeous kids aged 6-14y. Struggling with establishing “house rules” rather than “we do this, they do that” but this has put some perspective in my thinking. sums up how I feel about “needs vs feelings”, 100%!

  481. Damn tootin’. You need to make the choices you feel are best for them. I must say, my mother always said she felt guilty when the women at her work (hospital laboratory during the 60’s and 70’s) would talk about what their kids wouldn’t eat, because all four of us ate 98% of what was put in front of us. As she said to me years later “okay, so you wouldn’t eat wax beans or okra. But all four of you wouldn’t eat them, so that was a simple solution.” For the record, we also wouldn’t eat brains. We did eat liver, peas, carrots, beets, pork chops, fish, and as well as various foods particular to our Polish background, which other kids might refuse to be in the same room with. We ate like HORSES. And our tv was also strictly limited to weekends for a couple of hours (films, mostly, or a few sitcoms)and Merle Deusing’s Safari. “Read a book if you’re bored, or draw a picture or go outside and play”, was the litany in our house. And I am so happy that they did it that way. I was also pressed (I’ll call it that but it was, actually, parental coercion…) to learn to blind type at the age of 10 or 11. And it was divine insight on my father’s part, because he told me, you will go to university one day and you will be glad you can type. No kidding, Papa.

  482. Every time my son tried to pull one of those maneouvers on me, and I’d feel mean, I’d remember my mom standing fast. And I’d call up my mom and apologize for my behaviour.
    She loved it, she laughed, and it really repaired all those tricky relationship problems that had been unresolved all those years.
    So my son is now turning into a wonderful young adult, and coming to grips with all sorts of stuff. It’ll be a fun ride.

  483. Kids: “You’re mean!”
    Me: “That means I’m doing my job right.” or “Write it in your book when you grow up.” or “Thank you!” or “Sorry, but that doesn’t mean I’m not right.”

  484. The best parents I ever met had three stock sayings:
    (1) no, (2) stop it, and (3) don’t.

  485. Best Post on Parenting Ever. How do we get this message to every new parent in the world?

  486. This is awesome. Thank you for writing it. I’m the mom of an almost 2-and-a-half year old and a 6 week old, and this is perfect. I think it’s the kind of parenting I am already aiming for, but the way you’ve laid it all out is awesome, and just what I needed to read today. My kids are great (of course) but the 2 year old definitely has “feelings” about what she does and does not want, and I put my foot down a lot about what she has to do. This post reminded me that I’m totally doing the right thing. Thank you.

  487. Wonderful! The TV was locked away a few times when I was young…..didn’t hurt a bit.

  488. Yes, yes, yes, a million times YES!!!
    It’s so nice to know I’m not the only one parenting this way.

  489. I am THAT MOTHER. The mother who was “so strict, her kids couldn’t breathe.”
    Well, of course, I did some things wrong and did some things well…
    And I have the most fantastic kids in the world! At 30 and 25 respectively, they’re well-employed, well-read, and well-mannered. And not at all intimidated. They think for themselves.
    But the coup de grace? Kid #2 is a HIGH SCHOOL TEACHER… LOL – the comments I hear about “how these kids are raised these days” are my enjoyment for the years of toddler/tween/teen angst.

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  491. Bravo! I am frequently complimented on the behavior of my children and asked how we accomplished it. I always say that my children are a little bit afraid of me. People are appalled but I say that I am raising citizens for the world, not friends for me. I am so proud of my kids and they are happy, confident and content. We are doing our best to prepare them for life. My kids can hang out with your kids anytime!

  492. Loved the post and the comments! I just have to add my contribution, even though I’m five days late. Here is how this mean mom performed a feat that seemed like magic to someone else:
    By the time my kids were in grade/middle school, I had accidentally developed a technique for getting good behavior in public places. If they were starting to get boisterous/rude, I would snap my fingers as a warning. They quickly learned to stop what they were doing, because they knew that if they didn’t, they would receive a public reprimand, which they hated.
    My husband and I both sang in our church choir, but when I wasn’t singing, I would go and sit with the kids in the rear pew (where I made them sit so I could see them from the choir risers about 20 ft/6 m away). However, one Sunday (probably Easter) the church was full and there was no room to sit with them. At one point I realized that they (boy age 12, girl 7) were pushing and shoving each other and disturbing the people around them. I waited for a quiet moment in the service, and then leaned forward and snapped my fingers. They immediately stopped and turned to look at me, then turned around, straightened up, and sat quietly. The woman next to me in choir whispered, “How did you do that?!” I just had to smile and shrug. Can’t explain it now either, but every “mean mom” who has commented on this post knows the daily efforts parents have to make, year after year, to guide our children to become good, trustworthy people.
    I’m delighted to say that my daughter and her husband are raising two wonderful boys in the same kind, consistent, firm manner. Carry on!

  493. I so want to send this post to my daughter-in-law but she’s already got her back up from a similar comment I made just over a year ago.
    I, too, was a ‘mean mom’ and my late-20’s daughter now thanks me for it. Her older brother probably would, too, but I’m backing way off on that scene. I need to balance bravery with caution, not destroy a tenuous relationship with his wife.
    Thanks for reaffirming the Mean Motherhood of Those Who Really Care.

  494. Thanks for sharing glad to hear there are other “mean mothers” out there that went to the “old school” and still raise their kids like the proper way and you will respect me even if you don’t love me. Kids need to learn and how better than through a “MOM”

  495. You are so right!! Where have you been for the last two decades? Take it to the streets! Please shout it to the world! I LOVE LOVE LOVE this post!

  496. I do accept as true with all the concepts you’ve offered on your post.
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  497. Thank you! And this is why you are my personal parenting guru! I am going to quote “…I have my eye on the prize. I’m making grown ups.” to everyone I know – brilliant! It is a very hard concept to explain to parents of younger children – you have (and not for the first time) given me the words to explain this exact thing!

  498. Just popping in to read this again. I need to a full on de-screening in the house and I wanted the pep talk.
    Must remember to buy earplugs on the way home.

  499. I haven’t read all the responses but I’m so encouraged that there are so many supporters to your approach. I raised 3 sons (now nearing 40) who took turns (with my hubby and I) to make dinner as soon as they were in grade 8 (even if they were busy with after school events). They also did their own laundry coz I was a working mum. They now have partners who pamper them. I know that they help around the house and have better relationships because they were raised to be adults. Thanx for your blog. I’m among the “strangers” who call you “friend”.

  500. From a Mom with 2 girls growing into young women, may I say, AMEN to Ms. Stephanie! This was my motto for years & I feel that I have raised 2 very smart, confident women (one 21 the other 16). I always tell them, “Right now I’m your mom, when you’re 26 I’ll be your friend.” Love this post!!

  501. I was strict with some things and not with other things. I wish I had been more consistent. I also wish EVERY parent would be like you and then we wouldn’t have these spoiled babies becoming president, etc.

  502. I’m coming after all the spam and crap on this (mostly) but I have to say “Amen”. My mother always said “My house, my rules.” I say “When you start paying rent, we can discuss it.”

  503. I’ve always been proud of being a “mean mother”– I am sure that sometime, someone has added another word to the end of that. ( Not my son-at least that I know of- I wouldn’t even let him use words like “fricking”), but I was a mean mother to my co- workers, and whomever needed to be (mean) mothered.

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  506. Thank you for sharing your wisdom to this mom of a 2-year old. This post is very timely. And words that I needed to hear.

  507. Hear! Hear! Grateful to be the Meanest Mommy Ever! Had my Three Little Sprinkles later in life. They are 5, 7, & 12….and I am 47! I too feel no remorse when saying NO! Mom On and thanks for sharing!

  508. You are so incredibly awesome!!! I don’t have kids and we still haven’t decided if we will. However one thing we are sure of is how we would raise them. And our sentiments go right along with yours. I am THE boss not the child. We practice that with our nieces and nephews already. If they are with us it’s our rules and there are consequences for not eating what we put on the table, not listening, defiance, talking back, rudeness, ugliness, etc. Wish more parents thought like you!!!

  509. Ahhhh, had a huge chuckle over your post. Why just tonight, my 11 year old insisted that the Risotto I made, and that he’s been eating with gusto for many years, is a dish he doesn’t like, and won’t eat. “make yerself toast then, you ungrateful oink’ I responded. The rest of my kids looked slightly terrified, but tucked in and polished off the lot!
    I’m with you all the way 🙂
    Love, another mean Mum!

  510. Catching up on a few blog posts so I’m a little late with this comment. When I was a child, our TV broke and my mother “forgot” to get it fixed for most of a year. I think my dad finally broke down and got it fixed when football season started.
    And then she had a lock installed in the TV switch so it wouldn’t go on unless it was unlocked. It was always locked when we got home from school and the key only came out after dinner for an hour or so.
    Funny how that made us find other things to do that didn’t involve sitting on the sofa and staring at a glowing box.

  511. Heya
    My wife passed along the link to this blog post. I agree 100%. There is a difference between “needs” and “wants”. My kid feeling bad about not getting what he wants, but doesn’t need, is a growth opportunity, not a bad parent.
    My personal philosophy about kids is this: It is not my job to raise a happy kid, it is my job to raise a functioning adult.

  512. This is so well said, and I agree 100%. My daughter is still little (15 months), and I know it will get harder as she gets more communicative, but I also don’t understand how someone can say that their kid will only eat this, this, and that so that’s what the make them separate from the rest of the family. My daughter eats what we’re eating, with her preferences taken into account the same way everyone else’s are, and if she can’t find something on her plate to eat she must not be that hungry!

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