Don’t Be Afraid To Be A Mean Mommy

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Who’s a mean mommy? Me. And I’m kinda happy about it.

But I have to ask: Is tough love out of style? Not in our house. In between all of our love cuddles, giggles and goofiness, I’m the mom who assuredly says, “Get up” after my tot takes a tiny harmless tumble and is on the verge of tears, “Stop complaining” when I keep her in her high chair for one more minute so I can finish unloading the dishwasher and “Figure it out, you’re smart” as she whines and screams at her sippy cup because the spout is facing the wrong way.

In other words, I think I might be quickly turning into my mother. (Thank God.) More and more, I’m finding that I’m a no-nonsense, tough-love, don’t-expect-me-to-honey-darling-you-for-every-little-trivial-thing type of mommy.

The scariest part is that I’m having an inexplicably easy time with it. Sleep training? Yes, I let her cry and and was actually o.k. listening to her work it out… and proud when she appropriately comforted herself. She might scream for a bit, but she eventually figured it out (unless she got hysterical, which then I appropriately bit the bullet to go in and do sensitive mommy-duty to make sure she’s wasn’t in danger or anything).

I LOVE my little girl, but I’m a firm believer in learning – and teaching – children how to be resilient and self-sufficient enough to know that not every moment in life will be met with lovey-dovey mommy stuff… and that the child is capable of controlling and resolving appropriate situations for themselves.

I know and respect that kids want to be heard and supported (no matter how young) and I do listen to and serve as my girl’s safety net, but I don’t react to every little wince, every minute whimper or every single mindless whine. As “modern moms,” we take so much pride in striving to set examples for our little ones (especially our girls) to be strong, independent, have a career, go for our dreams, and on and on. But then I see some of these same moms frantically feeding into every one of their tot’s demands and whines no matter how superficial… possibly stripping away their kids’ self sufficiency bit by bit. There seems to be so much online these days discussing and promoting much we as parents should do for our kids – and I agree with some of it – but I really feel that there is such a thing as doing too much. There is such a thing as too much attention. (Ever heard of a needy brat?)

I remember getting plenty of love and support growing up, but I don’t remember being coddled or getting sympathy for every silly little thing that didn’t go my way… which I’m beginning to appreciate more and more. I learned that if I fell down (literally or figuratively), I had to get up, figure it out, try again (or not) and move on. My mom’s philosophy was “Handle it.” End of story. And I did. And I still do. What other choice is there? That philosophy prepared me for countless unexpected trials and triumphs throughout my childhood, teenage years, twenties and beyond. In personal and professional situations, I learned how to be strong, how to handle myself, how to figure it out and how to cope… both independently and with the love and support of my parents.

As parents who want to make sure that we meet all of our kids’ needs, are we unknowingly cultivating a generation of people that won’t be able to thrive unless someone else’s sympathy makes it all better in the end? In college, my mom and I had a laugh over a small article she once sent me describing how singer/actress Jennifer Lopez’s mom used to tell her “don’t come home crying” if she didn’t land a role early on in her career, and that she should “get out of show business if she couldn’t handle it.” (Bravo, Mama Lopez!!) That’s the tough love I’m talkin’ about.

So am I mean, modern or just plain clueless? Tell me… I can handle it.

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