Saturday, Aug. 23, 2014

How (and why) to be the meanest mom in the world

By Megan Wallgren, For Family Share

Published: Tue, Nov. 12 1:30 p.m. MST

 When your kids tell you you’re mean, take it as a compliment.

When your kids tell you you’re mean, take it as a compliment.

(Shutterstock.com)

Editor's note: This article originally appeared on Family Share. It has been reprinted here with permission.

Once, I walked out of the store without giving into my child’s tantrum for a cookie. A woman stopped me in the parking lot and told me I was the best parent in the shopping center. My daughter wasn’t so sure. When your kids tell you you’re mean, take it as a compliment. The rising generation has been called the laziest, rudest, most entitled kids in history. The news stories scare the best of moms. It’s easy to want to throw in the towel with your own kids. After all, don’t we all want to be the cool mom? Don’t give up. They may think you’re mean now, but they’ll thank you later.

Here are 12 ways to be the meanest mom in the world:

1. Make your kids go to bed at a reasonable time. Is there really anyone who hasn’t heard how important a good night’s rest is to a child’s success? Be the parent and put your kid to bed. No one ever said the kid had to want to go to bed. Now enjoy some quiet me or couple time.

2. Don’t give your kids dessert every day. Sweets should be saved for special occasions. That’s what makes them a "treat.” If you give in to your child’s demands for goodies all the time, he won’t appreciate the gesture when someone offers a sweet gift or reward. Plus, imagine the dentist and doctor bills that may result from your over-indulgence.

3. Make them pay for their own stuff. If you want something, you have to pay for it. That’s the way adult life works. To get your kids out of your basement in the future, you need to teach your children now that the gadgets, movies, video games, sports teams and camps they enjoy have a price. If they have to pay part of that price, they’ll appreciate it more. You may also avoid paying for something your child only wants until he has it. If he’s not willing to go half with you, he probably doesn’t want it that badly.

4. Don’t pull strings. Some kids get a rude awakening when they get a job and realize that the rules actually do apply to them. They have to come on time and do what the boss wants. And, (gasp!) part of the job they don’t even like. If you don’t like your child’s teacher, science partner, position on the soccer field or placement of the bus stop, avoid the temptation to make a stink or pull strings until he gets his preference. You are robbing your child of the chance to make the best of a difficult situation. Dealing with less-than-ideal circumstance is something she will have to do most of her adult life. If children never learn to handle it, you’re setting them up for failure.

5. Make them do hard things. Don’t automatically step-in and take over when things get hard. Nothing gives your kids a bigger self-confidence boost than sticking to it and accomplishing something difficult.

6. Give them a watch and an alarm clock. Your child will be better off if he learns the responsibility of managing his own time. You’re not always going to be there to remind her to turn off the TV and get ready to go.

7. Don’t always buy the latest and greatest. Teach your children gratitude for, and satisfaction with, the things they have. Always worrying about the next big thing and who already has it will lead to a lifetime of debt and unhappiness.

8. Let them feel loss. If your child breaks a toy, don’t replace it. He’ll learn a valuable lesson about taking care of his stuff. If your child forgets to turn in homework, let him take the lower grade or make him work out extra credit with his teacher himself. You are teaching responsibility — who doesn’t want responsible kids? They can help remind you of all the things you forget to do.

9. Control media. If all the other parents let their child jump off a bridge, would you? Don’t let your kids watch a show or play a video game that is inappropriate for children just because all their friends have done it. If you stand up for decent parenting, others may follow. Create some positive peer pressure.

10. Make them apologize. If your child does something wrong, make her fess up and face the consequences. Don’t brush rudeness, bullying or dishonesty under the rug. If you mess up, set the example and eat your humble pie.

11. Mind their manners. Even small children can learn the basics of how to treat another human with respect and dignity. By making politeness a habit, you’ll be doing your kids a huge favor. Good manners go a long way toward getting someone what they want. We’ve all heard the saying, "You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar."

12. Make them work — for free. Whether it’s helping Grandma in the garden or volunteering to tutor younger kids, make service a part of your child’s life. It teaches them to look outside themselves and realize that other people have needs and problems, too — sometimes greater than their own.

With all the time you spend being mean, don’t forget to praise and reward your children for their stellar behavior. And always, make sure they know you love them. With a little luck, your kids can turn the tide and make their generation one known for its hope and promise.

Megan Wallgren is a freelance writer and mother of four energetic children. She blogs about how to wear them out at kinetickids.blogspot.com.

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1. jeanie
orem, UT,
Nov. 12, 2013

All ideas here are spot on!

2. Danny Chipman
Lehi, UT,
Nov. 12, 2013

Superb ideas, but with one minor problem. You use the word "make" (as in "force") a lot. You cannot MAKE anyone do anything, as undisciplined kids will quickly teach their parents. Rather, choices ought to be offered, both of which are acceptable to the parent. Let the kids choose, and follow through with the consequences. For example, if a kid is being rude and disgusting at the dinner table, offer a choice such as "would you like to mind your manners here or take your dinner to eat in the bathroom where we won't be grossed out by your behavior?" If the misbehavior persists, move the child to the bathroom. Both are acceptable choices, and the child will feel empowered with the right to choose.

It is essential that parents know what is in their realm of control and what is not. A parent cannot force a child to fall asleep. Remain in the bedroom, not bothering the adults, yes, but not conk out at any set time. Children cannot be forced to work, but they can have priveleges suspended if they don't. Parents CAN control WHERE behavior is to take place, just not what the behavior is.

3. oldcougar
Orem, UT,
Nov. 12, 2013

Danny, I think that's what she meant by "make." I doubt she is advocating force or violence.

4. BioPowertrain
Detroit, MI,
Nov. 13, 2013

In all candor, I am very tired of such articles here at the world's leading news journal for families. The author (and the DN by publishing it) clearly assume every reader understands what she's getting at. And that's a big assumption to make.

This is the perfect article for an abusive parent to use as rationale for their harshness and mean-spiritedness. And also as their excuse for dominating their children's personalities and disrespecting their basic human need for an sense of agency, which even the smallest children need to a degree.

This type of abuse goes on unchecked in A LOT of LDS families. What if we talked about this for awhile? You know, not just throwing your readership an occasional "Sunday in-depth" on this difficult subject, as a salve to everyone's conscience, but a commitment to dialog on this terribly harmful and counterproductive reality?

I think this would be directly in line with the expressly stated purpose of this publication.

5. andyjaggy
American Fork, UT,
Nov. 13, 2013

I agree with most of these ideas, however it seems that every generation thinks that the generation after them is going to ruin the world, it gets a bit old after a while. I look at the youth in my ward and see some amazing kids, I don't think it's as bleak as all of the doomsayers say.