Being a Mean Mom isn’t Easy


If any of you happened to see my Facebook status on Monday you know that I faced a motherhood dilemma.

Scenario; I had asked our kindergartener ½ a dozen times if he placed his lunch in his backpack and to which he replied, yes, each time. So, I drop the kiddos off at school. I get home and go to the fridge to get our 3-year-old a snack and guess what I see in the fridge? His lunch!! Mind you, I asked him like ½ dozen times if he had his lunch, and he said yes. So my dilemma was, should I take it to him or allow the situation to be a learning experience? If I took it to him would he think he could just forget it whenever he wants and mom will bring it to him? But he is only in kindergarten, am I a bad mom if I don’t drop it off? But the experience would be a great way to encourage responsibility? I was torn and starting to lean toward one direction but felt I needed confirmation that my decision was indeed correct.  So I decided to ask for some help from my mommy friends on Facebook and called my hubby. The response was unanimous, take it to him. Mind you the overall suggestion was to first let him wait it out a little and sweat, then drop it off. Which makes sense, he will experience the anxiety of not knowing what to do and then mom will swoop in and save the day! Who doesn’t want to be the hero, right!? But, the thing is, that wasn’t the solution I was initially leaning towards.


I was leaning towards not dropping off his lunch. Chances are he would get food from the cafeteria (Darn village!! Why must they make it so difficult to parent sometimes?) The school will not let a child go without a lunch (which I totally understand, especially when there are kiddos whose households are going through difficult times and school breakfast and lunch might be all they get for the day). But here is the thing, if my son went without a lunch for one day that would be huge and he would definitely remember it the next day! But, since the school cannot allow children to go without a lunch they will provide the child lunch and then have them repay the money the next day. And the rule in our home is that each child may buy lunch twice a month. Thus, if he had already purchased his two lunches for that month I would have had him repay the school lunch with his own money. The question I have been pondering since Monday is, am I a mean mom? If you are a mean mom by other’s standards does that mean that you can’t be a good mom? Or maybe being a mean mom when the situation calls for it makes you a good mom? (I clearly do way too much thinking, lol!).

So I did what any woman would do and further analyzed myself in an effort to compartmentalized my mothering style (why do we do this?).

Another parenting milestone that might make me come across as a mean mom is potty training? For all 3 of our children I did the 5 days of hell, and if you have done it I am sure you can agree, it is no picnic! It entails, first and foremost, removing all diapers from the premises (see, it isn’t the toddlers that cave, it’s the parents, and if there is a diaper or pull-up anywhere in the house it is just too tempting) and going straight to underwear/panties, and a no turning back mentality. I clear my schedule, purchase 30 pairs of underwear/panties, treats for #1 and #2, and prepare for a very long week of accidents, whining, tears (for the child sometimes too), and lots of patience. By the end of that week my kiddos are potty trained and I am exhausted. What I have found is that the weeks that follow potty training week often include moments when the newly potty trained child simply does not want to be interrupted during play to go potty. You can remind them until you are blue in the face.  Or you can pick them up while they kick, yell, and scream and carry them to the toilet and place them on it, often to only wait minutes for nothing, then return to the activity and have them have an accident. 

My solution, is to let the child know that they need to go potty. If they refuse, which they often did, I explained that they would be cleaning up the accident. Let me tell you, it only takes one time of them having to stop playing, clean up the pee that is all over the floor and possibly on toys (mind you, I went back and gave it a thorough cleaning), go get clean underwear/panties, and clean pants. They quickly learn that it is much easier to just go potty when mommy says so and then return to play.


Other ways I might come across as a mean mommy……

  • When the children decide to throw their dirty clothes on the floor instead of placing them down the conveniently located laundry chute upstairs they then are required to walk the dirty clothes all the way down to the basement.
  • Our 6 & 7-year-old make their lunches for school.
  • If the children do not like the dinner I prepared they have the option to eat it or not to eat it. Breakfast is the next meal. I am not a short order cook.
  • If you make the mess you clean it up.
  • The children make their own beds.
  • Why, just this morning I left my 3-year-old at preschool while she was crying.

These are all things that might make me come across as being a mean mom, but let me tell you, they are the hardest things for me to do!!  Do you think my heart wasn’t aching as I walked down the hall hearing my little one cry? It was the worst feeling in the world!! Would I have loved to run back, give her a great big kiss and hug, and say mommy will stay? Darn straight! Is it easier and much much faster for me to make all the beds and take care of all the dirty laundry? You bet! Am I much more efficient and less messy when it comes to making lunches? Let’s just say if PB & J sandwich making was an Olympic sport I would be bringing home the gold!  And what mom doesn’t want to be the hero who swoops in and drops off the lunch or homework their child forgot? This one!

Allowing children to have consequences is the hardest thing to do as a parent. Especially when you know how easy it would be for you to fix the situation for them, or simply do it for them.  And the worst part is, while you are enduring all the pain and heartache that comes with watching your children have consequences in order for them to one day be responsible, self-sufficient, confident, contributor to society, they will more than likely be mad at you.

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So the next time you see that parent not making their child’s bed, or have a parent request  that  you not clean-up a spill made by their child but rather the child clean it, or you catch wind of a parent not rushing in to complete their child’s responsibilities maybe you should thank them? Thank them for all the sacrifices they are making now so that the future generation will flourish.

So, are you a mean mom? Know of a mean mom? What are your thoughts? Please share.

10 thoughts on “Being a Mean Mom isn’t Easy

  • They’ll be mad at you in the short turn but trust me, later on when they can handle responsibility, don’t buckle under the pressure of school/part-time job/chores/volunteering, can live on their own, they’ll thank you. Hang in there. It will get worse before it gets better….but it will get better.

    • Thank you so much for your honesty 8kidsandabusiness (by the way, you are my inspiration, I adore your posts…I am learned so much from your post, 10 Dates Every Catholic Should Know and looking forward to future posts on the same topic). I truly admire you giving it to me straight, I kind of had a feeling that it might get more difficult as the children grow, especially during those tender teenage years that everyone talks about. But it is encouraging to hear that all this hard work will be well worth it in the end.

      • You’re welcome and thanks for your very kind words. There will be difficult moments but they will be overshadowed by many more wonderful times. It’s all good. You’ll see.

  • Sorry, I just don’t get being a mean mom. It seems like such a small thing to put the lunch in his backpack for him, in my opinion you are creating stress and drama for something petty. Why have him associate something negative with going to school? I don’t think you can teach responsibility by threats of no lunch or cleaning up their own accidents (which sounds slightly even abusive to me) by humiliation, or any of your other examples. I always did things WITH my son and made the chore or whatever it was we were trying to accomplish — enjoyable, and that made the transition to his doing it on his own much less stressful, whether it was sorting clothes for the wash, or folding them up to put away. I don’t get where being mean was the purpose of creating life. You can disagree with me, but I’ve got a very successful, compassionate 32-year-old and we often talk about the fun times we had, not the sad times where he was made to feel like he was unworthy. I would be really upset if he had a child and treated it the way you described. Love is meant to be kind. If a mom is overwhelmed with the job of parenting multiple children, well, maybe that’s the issue. I get that I’m way past the active mom role, but that doesn’t mean my history and experiences aren’t valuable. I didn’t have all this social media that took my time away from giving my son 100% of my love.

    • I think your experience is extremely valuable and I appreciate you sharing your thoughts, it means a lot to me to hear different mothers’ points of view and perspectives. I can understand how my examples may have been interpreted as harsh but on the contrary they are expressed in a loving and kind manner and appear to be working. It should be noted; I do not stand over my children and yell at them or make them feel embarrassed by any means. I do provide guidance, love, compassion and ample hugs and kisses to my children.
      With regard to the lunch dilemma I would appreciate any advice you have to offer. If your son, when he was younger learned that if he pretended to forget his lunch he would then get a school lunch (which he surprisingly likes, shocking right!?) what would you do to rectify the situation? And the school does need to be reimbursed for those lunches the next day which is $2 a day. And you have already tried taking away screen time and have him working off the money with extra chores but those don’t appear to be making a dent. What would you do?

      • In response to your question, my son was involved in choosing the lunches he would take, so they were foods he liked –once in a while he asked if he could try a cafeteria lunch but he didn’t like it. We lived very close to his school, lots of times I would just pick him up and bring him home for lunch and bring him back so he would have enough time to play with his friends. I think when children are invested in things, and for me, nutrition and healthy foods were a priority, it’s a way to be successful for everyone. We made healthful snacks together, and usually had homemade bread, and other foods I knew he loved and would therefore eat. I just don’t recall ever having an issue with him being sneaky about stuff like that. In my opinion, I would ask him to just be honest about things and work on compromise about lunches. Find out why he likes that food instead of punishing him which just makes the forbidden thing more enticing and will only teach him to be more effectively sneaky. Learning to let a child feel like he “wins” sometimes builds confidence.

      • That is awesome Enchanted Seashells, I wish I could pick up my kiddos and bring them home for lunch. I have a feeling if he had the opportunity to have a hot lunch at home that would definitely trump any school lunch. Your son was blessed with one cool momma 🙂 
        Good point, forbidding something does always make it more enticing. I will refocus my attention on the lunches being made at home and stocking more favorable foods for him…I think he is partially enticed by the school lunches because they are often full of unhealthy food while the food at home that he packs is healthy, lol! You are right, there has to be something he will look forward to in his lunch. I think I will make a special trip just the two of us to the grocery store and we can pick out a few items to add to lunches. This was great advice, thank you 🙂

  • I personally love this style of parenting. It makes and impression but they’re not getting hurt. Just last night I collected a box of toys that all have to be earned back one by one. Next time they won’t argue with me when I say “no.” My oldest learned this long ago…and he still loves me. The two little ones learned it last night. Forever impanted in their brains. I could have been really mean and thrown the toys away, but hey…that’s hard earned money.

    • Classic mean mommy, taking away toys as a learning experience, which is a brilliant idea. I have heard of parents throwing things away but I agree that is hard earned money. And it should be noted how hard it is to persevere through possible tantrums and not giving in and just handing over toys to appease the child. There has to be consequences for misbehavior otherwise how do you prevent a child from doing it again? Thank you for chiming in and sharing your comments are appreciated. (Side note: I read a quote yesterday on fb that had me thinking of you, it stated, “Lord give me coffee to change the things I can change, and wine to accept the things I can’t”. Ha-ha!).

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