The Mean Mom. I wear the title proudly. Prouder than Superman wears his "S." I think I may even have a T-shirt made with that on the front. It didn't happen overnight, but there have been glimmers of it as long as I have been a mom. My husband and I agreed early on that our daughters wouldn't wear things as toddlers that we would say no to when they were older. No tops that show your belly, one-piece swimsuits only, no short shorts, and on and on. So far it has worked. We have been consistent with our expectations and the girls have made responsible choices. Our daughters have chosen to wear shorts over their swimsuits because just a swimsuit wasn't enough for their taste.
The Mean Mom doesn't stop at clothing choices. Television, movies, activities, how they spend their allowance, and now even friends are subject to scrutiny. We don't usually just say no. We ask questions and encourage our children to make choices. Is that (show/movie/activity/friend) building your character? Are the characters in that show demonstrating the values you want to have? Is this really how you want to spend your money knowing that it will take you time to earn more? Is that friend encouraging you to make good choices or influencing you to make bad choices? Is this a place where people will be making choices that you want to make or a place that would be better to avoid. I am happy to say that most of the time, our girls make choices that we are happy with. Sometimes, we discuss their choices and guide them to a better choice. This often happens with activities they share with friends. Occasionally, we let them go down a wrong path and experience the consequences. Once when we were driving, the girls didn't want to drink the water we had in the car. Instead they bought sodas at the gas station. Later, we stopped for ice cream and the girls didn't have money to buy any. Cruel? Not really. Did they drink the free water next time? Yes, and they had money for ice cream at the end of the trip. Lesson learned. You must live within a budget and that means making choices. I didn't care if they used their money to buy the soda or the ice cream, I just don't want them blindly spending money as if there is no limit.
I recently overheard my oldest daughter telling the younger two that I'm not really a mean mommy. I love them and I'm teaching them to make good choices. She also said, "the neighbor's mom is nice, but those girls don't make very good choices because she lets them do things they shouldn't do." Occasionally, my daughter even tells me that she is glad that I take the time to help her make good choices. Once she asked me to help her find the perfect husband when she is ready to get married. I think by then she won't need my help as much as she thinks she does now. I also think that one day she will earn a T-shirt with "Mean Mom" written across the front.
**For the record, we have amended the dress code. Who knew that our 10-year-old would have legs so long that the only thing long enough to be modest would be Bermuda shorts?