Many years ago, when my children were younger, I know that on occasion their friends would tell them that I was "mean" or strict. I tried to look on that as if they were paying me a compliment!
Once I had a total stranger say to me "You must be a mean mom." He said that because we were standing in line at the post office (at Christmas time, mind you) and my young kids were laughing and trying to poke one another and I told them to stop.
So he turned to me and said "You must be a mean mom." I explained that I couldn't let them poke one another because poking can turn to shoving and pretty soon they'd be knocking into or annoying the people in line. He didn't agree with me and still said I was mean.
However, right after I said this another mother came in with her children. Two of them immediately began joking and shoving one another and bumped into the man several times. The third child walked over and began using his fingernail to scratch off the snowman that was painted on the glass.
During this time the mother ignored the shoving and yelling and scratching and didn't say a word of correction to her children. After several bouts of being bumped into, the man turned to me and said "I apologize. You are a good mom!"
I was and am a "mean" mommy if that means I had expectations for my children when they were out in public, as well as at home. I expected them to behave, be polite, and remember that they weren't the only people in the store that day.
I expected them to use indoor voices when they were indoors. I expected them to say "please" and "thank you," and "I'm sorry" and "please forgive me." I expected that it was my job to watch their behavior when we were out, and not the store manager's job or the waitress's job.
I expected them to be respectful to me (and others) both in their tone of voice and in their behavior. I expected them to be obedient and do what we asked them to do without arguing. Now admittedly we didn't always get that, but there were consequences for disobedience.
When they were younger we said "no" to some t.v. shows, some movies, and to hanging out at the mall without a grownup there. We said "no" to going out to the movies without a grownup along. We said "no" to most overnight sleepovers at a friend's house (grandparent's house was o.k. though). They couldn't play at a friend's house if their friend's parent wasn't there to supervise.
We said "no" a lot. But we said "yes" to lots more. We said "yes" to having play dates with their friends, or having their friends and their parents over for fun and fellowship. We said "yes" to swim parties and bowling parties and all sorts of fun (with and without their friends). We said "yes" to lazy summer day BBQ's, bike rides, camping, and building snowmen in the winter time.
For every "no" that we said, for every "mean" mommy and daddy response that we had, we sought to make sure that they knew we loved them. We didn't always give them a reason for our "no," but let them know that they needed to trust our judgment. No, they didn't usually like not getting a reason, but learning to trust in your parent's love and judgment is just a prelude to learning to trust in the Lord's love and judgment all your life, I think.
We made sure to let them know that we only wanted what was best for them and that they needed to trust our reasons, even if they didn't know what they were. We made sure to let them know that we weren't perfect, we made mistakes, but that we were seeking to raise them for the Lord as best we could. We were, after all, responsible to the Lord for our actions.
So if your kids think you're a "mean" mommy because you said "no," don't let it get you down. You're not alone! And remember, someday they'll grow up and be "mean" mommies and daddies themselves!