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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Meanest Mom on the Street

I am a Mean Mom. I admit it. But admitting it doesn't make life any easier. Being a Mean Mom within a sea of more permissive moms makes for a very lonely life sometimes... for both the Tongginator and me.

The Tongginator is the only young elementary school student on our street to have a bedtime before 8:30. And the Tongginator? Her head hits the pillow by 7:30 every school night... some nights it is closer to seven, often while the squeals of young children echo from our cul-de-sac. Granted, Little Miss T is also the earliest riser on our street, but that's a whole 'nother story.

The Tongginator also doesn't get to eat special treats all that much, mostly because her mean momma (that's me, y'all) became a neurotic mess when our registered dietitian insisted on viewing weekly food charts while the Tongginator fought off a failure to thrive diagnosis. Let's just ignore the fact that it occurred four years ago. I haven't fully recovered from the trauma.

I also have this weird obsession about words written on clothing (well, except for those awesome Wild Olive tees). If the Tongginator were a different child, I'd probably be more lax about this, but I'd rather have a hard-and-fast rule about it than argue with a ten-year-old Tongginator (who didn't earn her nickname for nothing) about why "Juicy" is an inappropriate slogan to plaster across the rear of her sweatpants. I also want to avoid - as much as possible - the obsession with name brands that are slowly creeping into the social circles of younger and younger children. So our family rule? No words on clothing - at all - unless it is Scripture or references a camp we enrolled her in.

Sometimes I wish I could relax about things. Sometimes I wish I wasn't always thinking ahead to ten years down the road. "If I let her watch that television show at age five, what will she think is a *cool* show at age ten? twelve? fifteen?" Don't even get me started on movies and music. I don't allow most children's movies into our home. The Tongginator watches a lot of Mandarin language DVDs, Tinkerbelle, Mulan, Enchanted, Kung Fu Panda, Veggie Tales and Ratatouille. Sometimes I think we are pushing the envelope with a few of these, but then I hear of five-year-olds watching Lord of the Rings, so...

Most recently, a close friend of the Tongginator, who happens to be YOUNGER than her, started exploding with the phrase, "what the?!?!!!"

That's it. Just "what the?!?!!!"

But I had to address it. And explain to this sweet little girl that she couldn't say that phrase in our house or when she plays with the Tongginator. And I shared with the Tongginator - privately - that sometimes grown-ups add really bad words to the end of that phrase, which is why we can't use it.

I don't really know where I am going with this post, mostly because I don't assume that my way of parenting is better than someone else's. I mean, a lot depends on family dynamics. A five-year-old who is the youngest of four children will surely experience life differently than an only or oldest child. And I realize, too, that every parent has to pick and choose their battles, based on the lessons that are most important to them. Still... there are a lot of parents out there who are allowing their fatigue, their stress, their desire to be friends with their children... to effect their parenting. I guess I just wish moms and dads were more purposeful about their parenting choices. I see a whole lot of fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants decisions being made.

And it bothers me. A lot.

Because the Tongginator only has so much little kid in her. We tell her that, you know. The husband and I often explain to her that certain things that she hears or sees or does will take away a little bit of the kid in her. And that it is okay for this to happen - it's a natural part of growing up. But it's NOT okay for it to happen too quickly. Because once a child loses a bit of the kid inside of her, she can't get it back. And so that's why we have some of the rules that we have. Her bedtimes and the food nazi rules? Exist because her momma wants her to do as well as she possibly can in school. But the television and clothing and music restrictions? Are because we don't want her to lose too much of her little kid.

Although the world is screaming for her to grow up fast, we'd like her to stay a little girl for as long as possible.

What do y'all think?


Sherri said...

Oh, TM, we are kindred spirits.

My older kids, now aged 21, 20. 18, and 16, were not allowed to watch certain shows on TV. These were TV shows that some of their friends watched that a) had new age spirituality thrown in, b)had children who were smarter than their parents, c) children who were disrespectful to their parents, or d) fighting shows. They laugh about it now--now my kids who are in college have found out that some of their friends were also banned from watching the same shows. It makes them laugh to learn that there were so many others who couldn't watch, but they felt AT THE TIME like they were the only ones in the world who couldn't do that.

We have always gotten the kids ready for bed at 7. And since we live so close to the time zone line, it gets dark here in the winter at 4:30. We've been known to get them ready for bed at 6:30.

And finally, you are so correct about the kids who are later in the birth order seeing things that older kids see. We have experienced that in our household and we are working to remedy that.

I have never liked "hiney writing". It's never been allowed, no matter what it says.

Doug and Terrye said...

Haha...I thought I was reading a post authored by myself(well...except for the part about the snackey type of food). My almost 5 yr old has no idea who H. Montana is, has seldom see 8:30 P.M. with eyes open, doesn't wear clothes with words on it (except the one my friend made for her that says *made in China*), and certainly not clothes with words on her bottom!!! Every day when she gets dressed she asks her daddy if her clothing is "appropriate." She is a happy little almost 5 yr old, and doesn't even know she is "missing out on so much!" I have a 26 yr old and a 22 yr old...I don't need another grown up child...until it is time for her to be grown up, which is not now :)

Buckeroomama said...

I totally feel for you.

Many parents outside of our circle are surprised that we get our children in bed before 8pm. Sadly, what's common here is for children to stay up as late as 10pm or later, because then the parents who come home late from work get to spend time with them (or so the excuses go).

I used to be a food nazi myself but have relaxed quite a bit now. Writing on clothing? I'm okay with that --depending on what is written , but no, not JUICY on her behind!

I like the part where you tell T about the little kid in her... we haven't had to explain why they are not allowed to do something other kids do yet, but I might just borrow that when the occasion arises.

Thanks for sharing. :)

Elouise82 said...

I definitely agree on keeping children innocent for as long as possible. I have a hard time, personally, using the phrase: keeping kids kids, because to me (and this is a result of my own background, so no offense to anyone who uses it) it smacks of letting little kids stay immature. I think it's important for children to be as mature as possible, given their development, while still retaining the innocent joy of childhood. And yes, I do know how utterly impossible that sounds. It's just a goal, not something I think I can actually achieve!
And I am in agreement on so many items on this list--so many of our friends (and in-laws *coughcough*) are horrified that we don't give Joy cookies and cake and candy and all kinds of sugary things for snacks. She's not even two, and we'd like to instill in her an early love of healthy food, thank you very much. Words on clothing? When I saw "Cute" across the rear end of a baby onesie, I knew this trend had gone TOO FAR. Oh, don't get me started!

justgerbil said...

J's bedtime is approximately 8:30, depending on naptime. (The boy? He loves himself some NAP, still going about 2 hrs in the afternoon) I have no idea what neighborhood bedtimes are because I don't interact with any neighborhood mothers. Our house isn't near anyone elses and I'm not a SAHM like most of them are here.

I really really REALLY hate the clothing choices for little girls these days. I do not want to look at a kindergardener dressed in "leather" mini skirt & fishnet tights and yes I have seen that.

I'm picky about television choices and I wouldn't let my kids see movies - even Disney - until I had viewed them first.

Kids should be kids.

Sharie said...

Oh Tonggu Momma this line struck a chord this week, "there are a lot of parents out there who are allowing their fatigue, their stress, their desire to be friends with their children... to effect their parenting."

The desire to be friends - well not so much - However, the fatigue and stress - Did you read my blog today before you posted this???

Ruth said...

From reading these comments, and to add mine on as well, you are NOT the mean Momma. We start getting ready for bed by 7:00, hopefully in bed by 7:30-ish. My kids are up at the same time in the morning no matter what & I think too little sleep just leads to behavioral problems. We are also blessed to have very few colds, etc, and I think a consistent good nights' sleep (among other things) is a major factor in that. We do watch TV, but only kid's shows - Dora, Diego, Kai Lan, you get the idea. Many of the more grown up shows disturb my sensitive Elli anyway. I despise clothing with words on the "butt" - who thought of that anyway!?!
Yes, she'll grow up soon enough, no need to rush it... Hang in there...

happygeek said...

Hey TM, did my parents guest blog this for you? When I was a kid, we heard all the time about not growing up too fast. Which is why my dad and sister went at it a lot about her clothing choices. I'm a geek, I didn't care.
A pastor once said that if we give our kids too much when they are little we won't have anything to give them when they get older.
We love the stage of innocence that our boys are at, we can give them a box and they'd be delighted, so we do not go all out as all they need most times is a box. And a bed-time. (My guys hit the hay at 7:00)

KiT said...

I also find myself in the Mean Mom category often.

We keep a strict bedtime (b/w 7:30 and 8:00). Our kids get up early no matter when they go to bed (we had a dance recital event that kept them up to 10:00 pm one night and they were up by 7:45 the next morning).

Kiddos get lots of "special treats." They just happen to be organic yogurt, organic applesauce, or organic fruit pops most of the time. See the pattern? B is very sensitive to sugar and artifical ingredients (esp dyes) and I am always SO SORRY when I allow her to eat the stuff. She knows what the stuff does to her, so she hasn't put up much of a fuss yet about it.

Words on clothing are ok by me. None of the "I'm a brat" or "I'm the boss" though. Positive words (also love the "Wild Olive" tees for the kiddos) are fine. Some characters are fine, which leads to...

Media - only little kid programming please. B likes Kai Lan (and until recently Thomas the Tank Engine) and has no clue who Hannah Montana is or what High School Musical is about.

So I guess maybe I am the meanest mom on my street? Probably in the whole condo development. Oh well!

Gail said...

Well I've been told I'm a mean mom many times over the years I've been a parent. I like to think of myself as one of the MEANEST and I suppose my mom was too. I kinda like that title in a way. ;)

I'm not fond of clothes either with characters on them and changed some things pretty drastically with Will after some recommendations from his attachment therapist. No super hero stuff like Batman, Superman, etc. We don't watch movies with that theme...I find it makes kids more aggressive and we don't need more of that here believe me.

We also are a 7:30-8:00pm bedtime family, my kids do much better with good sleep as do I.

Ther's nothing wrong with rules, our kids will learn there are rules in the grown up world someday soon. I've seen so many children grow up with this sense of entitlement and we are trying to avoid that...would like our children to be caring, giving and responsible ppl someday. :)

Stefanie said...

Another mean mom, checking in here.
You won't regret sticking to your guns, TM.
You are raising one heckuva special girl there!!
P.S. Love what you said about losing a little bit of the kid inside with things they see and hear... so, so true!!

The Gang's Momma said...

What do I think? I think that I love that you are a mean mom. I think that I love that I get to be surrounded (even virtually) by mean moms like me who are vigilant about preserving their children's innocence and purity.

I think that I love that mean moms are often the ones who parent with a purpose, with intentionality. (Did you read my comments on Creating a Family's blog about co-sleeping? Yeah, same issue!)

I think that the Church needs to do a better job training parents on how to be mean. How to limit and set boundaries, how to parent with a vision for what they believe God is making their family to be. I think we BTDT moms (I still can't believe I'm old enough to be one) should be taking the Word at face value and training the younger moms in the midst of healthy, godly relationships / community together.

Soooo, "Mean Moms?" Nope. Not by my definitions.

Purposeful, Vision-filled, Intentional. Annointed, Called. Passionate. Yup. That's you. I pray every day that it's me too.

Little T will be grateful for it some day. Her world will be better for it even now. And I'm happy to have you in the trenches with me :)

Jboo said...

Put me in right there with you too! I also try to limit some things, have an earlier bedtime than others and often get questions as to "why can ____ do this and I can't?" I generally say -- I'm not her mom, we have different rules. You're a terrific Mom!


The Gang's Momma said...

I liked this so much, I linked to you today. Good, good stuff here. LOVE IT!

3D said...

Little kids need to be allowed to remain little kids for as long as possible. TOO much influence and push to have them become older than they are. I agree with what you are doing and hubs and I have talked about this and both feel strongly about this topic. Things in our home will be such as to allow our child to be a child and not be pushed earlier into things that she may be too young for.

I could go on and on about this...thank you for bringing it up.

Keep smilin!

Dawn said...

I wish you were saying this to me face to face so I could squeeze the stuffins out of you and tell you that you are on the right track.

Yep, I'm a mean mom, too. So much so that my daughter is the only cheerleader that isn't allowed to wear shorts or pants that announce "cheer" across her behind. She also doesn't wear camisoles as shirts nor does she wear bra straps that show. My son wears a belt on his pants/shorts that are sized to fit his waist. My teens are the only teens who are required to check with mom before viewing pg-13 movies ('cause they are the "new" R movies, you know). My kids are also required to eat dinner with the family each night (with rare exception) and to participate in a family night at least once a week. And the list goes on and on.

Quite frankly, we have lost some friendships (were they really?) because of our "rediculous rules" (and that's okay!) but we've also found friends who have similar values and standards.

Stick your guns girl... you can always "loosen up" when it's appropriate - rarely can you "take it back."


Tonggu Grammy said...

As the "meanest mom east of the Mississippi", which I frequently said to you as a child, I am so very proud of the way you are raising such a delightful young lady. She is mature in so many ways and yet totally a kid. Just be prepared that the wants and desires of Miss T will be ever so much more vocal and articulately spoken as she becomes a teen. I shall enjoy it immensely!

Joan said...

Thank you! I had let my "mean mom" status slip a little but recently started bringing it back. I don't let my kids watch TV during the week anymore. I won't let my oldest watch the shows on Disney like Hannah M or Camp Rock or Nick shows like iCarly... too much sass and kissing. I did it because I didn't want it to rub off on her but now I know another reason. I don't want them to lose their kid stuff too soon! Thank you.

M3 said...

I hesitate to write this, because it will scream that I am freaky, but Ro and Ree have never (never!) seen a movie. It's just that every single movie (Disney included) has parts that are frightening or parts that are really designed for much older kids, and they just don't need that right now. They don't need to be scared by something they watch. All of their friends (ALL) have watched movies for years now. So, um, you're normal to me. (So NOT a consolation, is it? Heh heh.)

Joan said...

P.S. One thing I have never allowed and have returned gifts because of it. I will never allow Bratz products in my house. I hate the name and the attitude it shows. My daughter Elizabeth got a Bratz Valentine last year and said Oh Oh Mom, you won't like this... so she is listening. :-)

Holly said...

I do wish I was MORE of a food Nazi, really I do.
My kids consume too much sugar. It's true. I don't buy sugared drinks or drinks with dye in them and my kids drink mostly water and occasionally milk, but I confess that they have sweets many times a week. As for the movies.... I am a stickler. It is way hard having an almost 15 year old and an almost 4 year old in the same house- finding movies they are both interested in is challenging.
When my big kids complain about not getting to watch something "all our friends get to watch"- I tell them a story about how a Dad wouldn't let his girls go to a movie b/c of some inappropriate content in it. The girls said, but it's just a LITTLE bit of the movie that is bad! So the dad made a batch of brownies, offered them to the girls and then informed them that there was a LITTLE bit of something bad in the brownies but no biggie, go ahead and eat them. Well the girls wouldn't eat them until they found out WHAT the bad ingredient was. So Dad nonchalantly tells them it is some of the dog's poop. Well you can imagine their disgust. They refused to eat the brownies with just a little bit of poop. And Dad told them that just as the little bit of poo ruined the whole batch of brownies, so a little bit of filth ruins the whole movie.
The Bible says that the heart is the most valuable part of who we are....above all things...guard your heart because it is the wellspring of life.
My kids don't always like it but they understand the concept.
Train up a child in the way he/she should go and when he/she is old, he/she will not turn from it.
Parenting is NOT for wussies!!
Press on!

Wanda said...

Oh, don't even get me started!!

I want to scream a huge AMEN SISTA!

Actually, I've wanted to do a post about some thoughts I've had for some time now and I'm more determined to do it. Thanks for that.

Strong Mamas unite! You go girl.

Amy said...

I thought I was the "mean mom" so I am told often by my 9 year old. I limit food, TV, we have bed times and generally just way to many rules. Sometimes I want to give in but my heart just does not let me. So reassuring to see others out there doing the same thing. Thanks for this I needed a little support.


autumnesf said...

Exactly, exactly, exactly!!

Hello, my name is Autumn, and I am a mean mom.....

I was much meaner with the older two -- my little China princess has broken me of many of those mean qualities. Sleep? Not so much. She's afraid we will disappear when she sleeps so we have our own little bedtime issues. With school we are getting her down at 8:30 since its wearing her out (YES!!!)

Food? Hah. If it wasn't for junk she wouldn't eat at all. Another sensory/whatever issue that makes me a special kind of insane. But again...school is actually helping her expand her horizons. (YES!)

The words on clothes. Actually have a destroyed family relationship over this one. No bottom words EVER and words on shirts are very limited.

As a mom of a 20, 14 and 5 year old, I can attest to the fact that you CAN still control your home environment even with large age differences. It does take lots of work and getting the older kids to understand how they can be hurting the younger. But I found that older siblings that care for their little sisters can actually be bigger nazi's than the parents...and are fabulous for cluing you in on inappropriate music and things that we haven't caught on to yet. Its an extra set of eyes and ears! (My son rocks!)

So, know that you are not the only mean mom. We are out here...and we hear you!

Patty O. said...

Oh, I so completely agree with you!!!! We are total bedtime Nazis in our house. The kids are in bed between 7-7:30 every night (except in the summer when we let them stay up until 8). I know so many parents who let their kids stay up (one friend lets her 6 year old stay up until 11) and they think I am crazy. But, my kids really NEED their sleep. I can totally see a difference in both of them when they don't get adequate rest.

And TV? We don't watch it at all. We have never gotten cable, partly to save money, but also partly because we know we'll waste too much time in front of the TV. But, now I am so glad for the kids' sake that we don't watch it. When we visit family and do watch some TV, I cannot believe what passes for kids' shows. My kids do watch some videos, but mostly Franklin and Wall-e, etc. I learned my lesson about assuming kids' movies were good when we watched Shrek and Danny started calling people "stupid." Now, we are more careful.

Part of me is really grateful that Danny has not yet picked up on a lot of the pop culture that takes away kids' innocence. He seems very unaware of things like that, but I know that he is still probably affected by it. We try to be careful.

While I may be a bit too lenient in some areas (food is definitely one that I am trying to overhaul), some areas we are pretty hard core on and what I resent is when other parents roll their eyes at me about it.

adoptionroad said...

Can I join the MMOTS club because I am in agreement with everything you said here. I love my girls too much to allow them to live in this world without boundaries. We have been highly influenced by the book Shepherding a Child's Heart and Teach Them Diligently. Although those books don't address the food and clothing issues, I would still put those rules under heart training. Because we are training our children to obey and trust their parents who have their best in mind when establishing said rules.

Suzy said...

We started this year's Bible study Tuesday. At the beginning of each year, our leader passes around our "BIG" prayer request card that she prays for all year. Mine was that I'd be more intentional and less reactionary in ALL my actions including parenting. So, you're not alone in having that goal. I love the way you've explained that to the Tongginator.

Kimberly said...


Love this post-- I nodded in agreement over so much of it. To be honest, even though I am already pretty "mean" based on what you've discussed, I could probably be even meaner (and will have to be as she grows up!). My mom was a "mean mom" too and I am SO grateful for that, now. I think I am a pretty good mom, but it all because of the careful way she trained and raised me. Thanks for sharing this-- such an encouragement!!

Kristi said...

So I'm not the only one...
I am a bit more relaxed on the food than you, but as for the TV and much of the clothing, we are kindred spirits!
Oh, I've got an idea, let's band with others and all live on the same cul-de-sac! Wouldn't that rock?

Diane said...

Joan gave me a choke on my coffee moment- last year my daughter received a Bratz valentine too...she hid it in her shoe ;)

TM- My parenting style is similar. My oldest is proud of her 'healthy' lunch that I make and is horrified by what other parents pack in school lunches. Although- when I adopted her at age 8, I needed to introduce her to things like Hannah Montana and High School Musical so that she felt in the loop with American pop culture. With all of the challenges that can stem from older TRA- sheltering her from peer 'social norms' would have done more harm than good.

bbmomof2boys said...

ok, so I read your post this morning and have been thinking about it. I agree that the world wants our kids to grow up too fast. You see it all over the place - just watch that show about pagents - Toddlers and Tiara's? OMG - the makeup and stuff - swinging their hips? batting their eyes? What is THAT about? What are they teaching these girls at such an impressionable age?

And I agree about the words on the butt...juicy? I do let Litte T wear words on her shirts like Daddy's girl (ha - NOT!) and I'm a keeper, Syracuse, Choosen (WOT! Love it!)

Food - she can eat anything she wants. Candy? Yep, french fries, you betcha! But she also chooses fruits and veges over candy many many times so we feel that she is doing just fine. (as a plus we are hoping those empty calories will add some weight to her!)

Bed time is at 8:00 but she doesn't settle down until 8:30 or so. She still takes a good 2 hr nap everyday at 1:00. Right now I'm changing her bedtime routine to 7:30 or so , brush teeth, read a book, say prayers and then lights out. Its hard for me because I go to bed with her and that's a tad bit early for me! But, I'm trying to transition her to NOT sleeping with me so this will change shortly.

When Little T first came home she could care less about TV and actually - now she's about the same way! She does like Sp@nge B@b though.

Name brands?? I still remember telling my bff that I would NEVER buy the boys those expensive sneaks...boy did I put my foot (heh) in my mouth. Why? Because I didn't want my kids to be made fun of for wearing the wrong shoes. In middle school there is enough peer pressure and teasing and just hateful things that I didn't want to add one more thing, know what I mean?

You will relax, trust me. We have to pray that the things we try to instill in our kids will carry them through life!!


Patricia/NYC said...

You ARE my soul sister!!!!!!!!!!!


Mei-Ling said...

TM, school makes childhood seem LONG.

And in reality, you've still got 5-6 years until she's on the brink of adolescence!

Flamingo Mama said...

amen. seriously. i completely believe in picking your battles....BUT alot of parents just don't pick any.

whew. i had to turn around to check that i didn't have a word written on my caboose. i woudl have felt extremely panicked at that:)

Beach Mama said...

Sign me up for the "mean Momma" club! I agree with everything you wrote. I'll never forget a friend of mine telling me how embarassed she was once when she and her 6 year old daughter were clothes shopping in the children's department of a store. She and her daughter were standing in line when her daughter asked the woman in front of her if she was buying the clothes (that she had in her hand) for a midget or s short grownup. The woman answered that she was buying the clothes for her daughter and asked the girl why she asked the question. My friend's daughter replied, "Because little girls shouldn't wear clothes like that."

I wouldn't have been embarrassed. I probably would have High-5 my daughter then bought her a treat!

Chelsea Gour said...

I suwannee, I think you and I are from the same cookie cutter! Now, I am a wee bit more relaxed with the bed time thing....but, my kids are homeschooled and don't HAVE to be up at the crack o'dawn either. But, my kids will attest to the fact that I am a food nazi and I have, what they think are, bizarre rules about clothing. No bikinis or belly showing clothing. No skulls, no mini skirts without shorts underneath, no spaghetti straps. I could go on... Where did most of my rules come from? I watched in HORROR as my step-daughter grew up.

And, don't even get my almost 13 year old twins started on all movies their 7 year old cousin has seen, that they are not allowed to see yet!

You may think you are the mean Mommy....I think our kids should compare notes!

Annie said...

I agree!!! Here, here, TM!!! I am very picky about tv and movies and I hear about it often. It is very hard when ALL their friends are allowed to watch whatever and play Halo, for goodness sake!!!! Are you kidding me??? We do allow some snack food and candy but in moderation and no soda, unless we are eating out or only once in a while. And bedtime starts at 7:00 during the school year and the girls are usually asleep by 7:30, the boys by 8:00 (unless they have a late practice). I really wish more parents were a lot more vigilant about this kind of stuff!!!

prechrswife said...

Love your post. Our girls actually go to bed closer to 8:30, but that is because they both take pretty long naps in the afternoons. I'm also not as particular about foods, although when there is candy in the house, they are usually allowed one piece once a day, and only after they have eaten their meal. Our girls think sugar free popsicles are a wonderful treat. I am very with you on the clothes, especially with writing on the bottom. TV is generally Sesame Street or Veggie Tales. You get the idea.

I was mortified when I was teaching my last pre-k class and one 4 year old actually told me he wanted to be a CSI when he grew up. And then, there was the 5th grader in my Sunday School class last week who was telling me about a Chuckie movie, and I actually had to explain that that was not a good thing for him to be watching and certainly wasn't something to discuss at church.

Marla said...

Mean mom? Nah, I like to think of it more as being a GOOD mom. I am BY FAR the strictest of the parents in my group of friends and I'm totally OK with that. My kids have earlier bedtimes, eat much better food (there is never candy in this house which makes it pretty easy to keep them from eating it, LOL) and have to finish each and every page of homework before leaving for soccer practice or THEY DON'T GO. I was raised in the same type of household and hey, look how I turned out, right?!?! :) Worked for me, works for them.

And I'm right there with you on the character stuff too, I've actually heard my 6 year old tell one of her friends "Our mom doesn't let us have Bratz because they wear too much make up." (good thing she didn't add that I've also said they look like little hookers)

It's not an easy road, and there will be things you lighten up on as she gets older (and as your family grows), but it's worth it to me to let my kids be kids as long as possible. This world is a different place than it was when we grew up in it, and some of the stuff that I see kids doing these days scares the crap out of me!

Kerry said...

I am a mean mama too. I do feel a bit bad when my kids are tucked in tight at 7:30, stories read and all set, and they hear giggling from the neighbors playing outside. But quickly dismiss my feelings- my girls are healthy and get through the day bright and happy- they need to sleep!
And our kids do not need any help growing up faster than they need to- it happens all too fast as it is.
Keep your grip- from one "mean mama" to another. I hope that they one day thank us.

Laurie said...

I so agree with you about letting the kids be kids. Too often they are over sexualized at such a young age. We try to have some of the same rules for our daughter too. As an educator, I see all of the sad choices that parents make with their children in terms of entertainment and clothing. As parents, we need to be firm and not back down. Good Job!

Janet said...

I, too, think you are doing a great job. I guess you could call me a "mean mom" in some ways too,although I have relaxed a lot from when we first started. I think a lot does depend on what the kid's personality is like, what they can handle, etc. My kids all have early bed times, tv restrictions, etc. They have NO idea about name brands and "cool" clothing. They have often never even heard the swear words and I have to explain to them that they ARE swear words! LOL! I am amazed that my 8 year old nephew can watch CSI with his dad. CSI? Blood, gore, murder, sex! AAAAHHH!!!!! I had a hard enough time letting my almost 9 year old boy watch "Lord of the Rings"! I was sure he would be corrupted for life! :-)
But I do agree with you, we have to consider the things we allow as LIFE CHANGING. And let's face it...there's nothing worse than a 6 year old girl who wants to wear short skirts so she can get a boyfriend. Ouch.

Our Journey to Rachel said...

So funny that I'm reading this post today after it was referenced on a friend's blog. Just the other day, I saw a young girl with a word smacked across her bottom at my son's soccer game and I though, I will NOT allow my daughter to wear such clothing. I would not want to draw attention to her bottom by any means. These are children and we need to keep them as innocent as we can for as long as we can.

jen@odbt said...

From one mean mama to another, high five! Not so much on food but on bedtime, oh yeah. My kids are always so surprised to see the moon. Poor things don't get to see it too often.

Sharie said...

I had to post another comment today because I was talking to one of my co-workers today and he said he freaked out last night because his Kindergartener said, "What the Hello Kitty!" As he was telling me how he talked to her about it I flashed back to your post this morning - Is this the newest Kindergarten saying?

I never thought about being too brand oriented, but this morning I went on a field trip with Amelia...one of the girls looked at my plain black shoes and said, "Are those Sketchers?" A 4 year old!

Perhaps I need to be more aware of what I am portraying to Amelia too.

littlemistermanpants said...


Your parenting with foresight is a refreshing view of parenting of past generations.

I am scared for our children's generation! I look around at all the "gimmie gimmie adults" of our generation and just get scared that if it's this bad now, it can only get worse.

I wish more people adopted this form of parenting in their day to day.

There is something to be said for turning off the TV and reading a book and a decent bed time!

You go TM. Some may tell you to "relax," but I say - you go TM - you are a super mom!

Leah said...

Hello! I am a new commenter, but not a new reader to your blog. I enjoy your posts and just have to comment on this one. THANK YOU FOR BEING THE 'MEANEST MOM ON THE STREET.' I am SO like you (even though we don't have kids yet). And, the kindergarten teacher me speaking thanks you for creating boundaries at home, so when she gets to school she respects her teachers, classmates, and herself and knows how to follow rules.


Wife of the Pres. said...

Guess I'm a mean mom too then!!! I WILL NOT EVER let our daughter wear those shorts/skorts/pants with the words across the bum. What is up with that? Don't people know it draws one's eye to that spot!?! I don't get those AT.ALL.

Bedtime-check on that one too.
And the wording on the shirts: yeah that one too and the brand clothing. I see all the cute clothes on various children and just think that they outgrow them too fast at 3 YEARS OLD! Our S is most happy when running around w/out a shirt on at all. We're working on that one b/c she is a girl after all and boys can go shirtless but girls can't.

Anyway, I'm with you on all your mean mom accounts. Oh and the treats too. Just come on over to my blog and read my upcoming Hween candy post. And the phrase you mentioned: my niece says it. She is in the 6th grade. Of course her Mom also lets her IM w/ a "boy" in California. What?! Her Mom says, "Well we saw his photos. It is not like he is some per*vert!" Really, how does she know that??? And she said, "Well all the kids are doing it except yours. You shelter them too much."

OK, well call it what you want, but I'll be a Mean Mom any day over a Mom with her head in the sand.

Justin Narin said...

You are once again proving to be a terrific mom :) i totally agree with you our kids have got to have the kid inside them alive for quite some more time. I.e., long as possible.

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Aus said...

Hey - followed the link from the Gang to find you - and I've added you to my 'read list' (soon there won't be enough hours in the day for sleep!)

How about a dad's perspective - and that of an older parent as well. Our kids number 6, they are 25, 24, 20, 7, 3, and 18 months (due home from Quing Dao maybe by the end of the year).

About us - Marie and I are both mean parents - I'm mean enough to have looked at the older kids after they tried the "But if I don't (insert topic of argument here) I'll be a looser" and responded "Well then I guess it just suck to be you".

We're with you on about everything but food - but hey - everybody has a weakness! As for restrictions even placed on older kids - that includes no cell phones until you are out of high school and no on-line chats until you can drive a car!

How did it work? Oldest is a Phd candidate at WSU and is a bio-medical engineer, next is the chair of the bio department at her school and is teaching HS sciences in Louisville (was given the seat as a 2nd year teacher and has a Masters in bio), next is in Pre-pharm at UC but took the PCAT's a year ahead of schedule just to see if he could get in early. The remaining - hey - they are still kids (just like they should be!)

Oh - and I think in their 'heart of hearts' the oldest three really do KNOW that there is a Santa Claus!

But mostly - all three of them are happy as well as suceeding - and the happy counts the most.

You just keep on keeping on - and I'll stop back and check your blog from now on!

hugs - aus and co. ausfamily.blogspot.com

planetnomad said...

Hehe. We're mean parents too, although our choices are made in a different context (i.e. raising kids overseas). Stick to your guns!

Super Mommy said...

I feel like I am militant about tv, movies and food, but a lot of that changed when they started school - they were exposed to so much more. The girls do go to bed at 8:30, chew bubble gum, drink juice and junk food - but all in moderation. I found that I've eased up somewhat, but my girls, like most children, thrive on structure. You sound like you are doing an awesome job with your gal, I wouldn't change a thing!

blackbelt said...

I am also a truly Mean Mom. A psychologist who was running a special playgroup that Boo attended, commented in her report that Boo wasn't familiar with Pokemon, super heroes, video games, etc. and that this might "further alienate him in more typical scenarios." That's ok by me. Besides, he's not interested.

I don't have anything against video games per se except I think it's obnoxious that it's played in lieu of being outside or human interaction. And super heroes? They're like boys' Barbies. I don't need him to think he has to be an over-testosteroned white guy to be valuable.

I volunteer at a thrift store. There was a pair of child's size 8 pink short-shorts that said JUICY on the back. I threw it out.

blackbelt said...

Oh, and kids who live w/o rules? Why are they so bratty? No just because they don't have rules, but because THEY DON'T FEEL SAFE! They are acting out! Rules tell our children that their parents are in charge and will take care of them; that the world is safe and orderly. Parents being the boss is not about ME, it's about THEM.

CC said...

The Flash likes to tell me I'm the meanest mommy ever. A few days ago I informed him that I took classes on being a "mean mommy". And that I got an "A+". To which he had to ask what an A+ meant. At least I humor myself. ;)

Don't hang around us if you don't like the phrase "what the?!" We never add an ending to that phrase. But it gets used a lot around here. But don't judge me too hard for that one, b/c I don't allow just about any other words or phrases around me, including potty talk.

mommy24treasures said...

oh I just know if we lived down the street with one aonther we would be such good buddies:)
We are so on the same page about so many things. Every item you mentioned from bed time to music and television, clothing... yep... thats us.
I just am so surprised sometimes that the so called good/wholesome Disney 30 min shows on television that are filled with disrespect, sneaking and lying in a comedy type setting are thought to be acceptable.
I have found the less you expose them to, the longer they do have that beautiful child like heart/faith and I am so happy with my choices. I have also found a set bedtime makes for happier, much healthier, children. And helps a mommy be a better one.
Oh I could go on and on about your post, so I will stop:) I am with you though!:):)

Cristina said...

Oh you are SO not alone. I too am the meanest mum on the block and proud of it!! Because of this, I have pleasant, well-mannered (well, most of the time!) kids who don't wear pants with 'sexy' written on the rear, nor do they listen to Eminem, watch anything without my prior viewing and the like. Mean mums rock!!!

The Things We Carried said...

I think you ahve wisdom here. When our older kids were little (now 25, 24, 22, 20, 17.5) we were protective the about innocence of childhood being kept in many ways-movies, music, cartoons, and so on. I took a lot of critisisim from other parenst who were parenting along side me. I often wondered if I was wrong. The end results are my kids are really great young adults. They are kind, responsible, independent and close to us. I enjoyed everyone of them as teenagers immensly. Boundaries without being overly strict or rigid is a tension we must walk. You stick to your guns.

I will say having Jane with teens in the house has been much more challenging. I can't keep her protected as I would have liked. Let's face it a 17 year old can see and say things that are not appropriate for a four year old.

monica said...

Great post and I'm going to join the carnival too. As a therapist, I've seen parents get themselves into all kinds of trouble trying to be friends with their kids. No limits set, no backbone, no projection into the future. The kids who seem to have the hardest time launching into adolescence are those who have either been overindulged, neglected and unloved, or had overly strict, rigid parents. Parenting with love and firmness, rules and boundaries seems to be the hardest way to parent but I truly believe it is what really works.

I don't think of this as mean at all. It's absolutely necessary and it's hard work, but thank God it gives our kids a sense of security and the ability to make good choices.


Dita said...

I'm a Meany Mommy too!

I limit, put boundaries and am not swayed by "but, Joey's mom let's him (fill in the blank).

We are the gatekeepers and I take my job VERY seriously.

My daughter will never have any writing on her rear, nor will her mama. I'm amazed by that no matter what it says.

I require protein at every meal and soda and sugar are for parties...not everyday staples.

They REALLY are little for such a LITTLE while and I'm not ready to give them up...not for a long, long time.

I'm with YOU!

3 Peanuts said...

Oh I am the MEANEST Mom too!! I am with you on all of them and guess what my MIDDLE Schooler is in bed before 8:30 and he has never even asked for a later bedtime! My 3, 8 and 12 year old all go to bed at the same time:) Raise you child as you wish hem to go.

Melissa said...

Well said! And the comment about being how it makes for lonely times really struck home with me. So many times I've felt that we're the only ones making certain parenting choices for our child. I linked this post up on my blog - hope that's okay!

discombobulated said...

I hope you are well on the mend. I got my flu shot last week and I hope to get the swine flu vaccine in a month or so.

Anyway, I loved this post. One of the best rules my parents had was No TV in the bedroom. They didn't believe in everyone behind closed doors by themselves when we were young. I guess they were also policing what we were viewing, too, but I didn't realize it at the time.

I don't think your rules are outrageous and I hope to be a parent like you.

Michelle said...

First of all, loved your Mom's comments. I always have to read Tonggu Granny's comments. ;)

Secondly, I'm raising my hand as a Mean Mommy member, too!! Leila wants so badly to have a sleepover, but I don't think most households follow the same "house rules" as ours. I think she can have a sleepover at 16. LOL. I am sure Kara has been exposed to far more than her younger sisters have, so we are walking that fine line daily. And the neighbors across the street are always out playing outside and having friends over when my kids are trying to sleep, but I'm proud of my Mean Mommy, er... Purposeful Parenting... membership.

Myrnie said...

Wow...comment #65, and they're all LOONG ones, too! This really struck a chord. I think this is one of my favorite things about blogging- we can feel so "I'm the only one" in our day to day lives, but online, we're one of HUNDREDS of kindred spirits!

YES to the early bed time, YES to letting children have a childhood! They have so few years as children, they deserve to live them to the fullest. As a piano teacher, it makes me pause when I realize I'm one of 4 or 5 after-school activities for a child. Where's the play time and free time? Time to let kids be kids! :)

Tina said...

I am so glad that you wrote about this. I feel so at home here especially with all these comments. I am joining the Mean Mommy Club!

We have a similar rule in our house about clothing with words on it that are inapporpriate. We also haven't allowed clothing with characters on it! It is getting harder as she gets older to reason with her about that but since we have been doing it forever she now understands that it is Mommy's rule and you may not always like it but she isn't bending on this one.

We have to be mean mom's sometimes. If you aren't then you are doing your child a major disservice.

Ohilda said...

Wow! I could've written this post. I am always told I'm too strict, but I just think kids need boundaries and as each age approaches, those boundaries get widened.

By the way, you're not the only neurotic Mama about those saying on t-shirts. ::wink::

K and/or K said...

If this is mean I want to be cruel. Love this inspiration. I am thinking a lot about the kind of mom I hope to be and you share many of my sentiments. So refresing to read! Thanks.

Alece said...

this is what i get for reading your posts backwards...

now i feel really bad about that "damn" comment of mine...