When our children were growing up we said "no" to some things and on occasion other children told them "your mom is mean" or "your parents are mean."
When my children reported it back to me I took it as a compliment.
I even had an adult man call me a "mean mom" once because I wouldn't let my kids wrestle in the line at the post office. The man almost immediately apologized and told me I was a good mom after another woman's kids started hitting and poking one another in line and bumped into him several times. If asking my kids to not push and shove one another while waiting in a line makes me a mean mom, so be it.
I am positive that there were times that my own children thought I was mean too. I am o.k. with that.
I might even have been called overprotective by other adults, on occasion. I am o.k. with that too.
If curtailing some of my child's freedom and setting up neighborhood boundaries in order to protect them means that I am mean, so be it.
If saying no, they cannot stay all night at the house of someone I have never met before means that I am mean, so be it.
If saying no to many, if not most, overnighter's (except at grandma and grandpa's house) means that I am mean, so be it.
If putting a filter on the computer so that they couldn't access certain sites means I am mean, so be it.
If saying no to the total stranger who introduced herself as my new neighbor and asked if my five year old could come over with her right now to play in her house and watch her two and three year olds while she worked inside her home is overprotective and mean, I am o.k. with that!
If saying that they couldn't watch certain shows when they were younger and limiting their t.v. and computer time is mean, so be it.
If having them take music lessons and do chores to teach them a work ethic and diligence and perseverance is mean, so be it.
If homeschooling them instead of putting them in public or private school is mean, so be it.
If it's mean to expect that it's MY job to watch my kids when we were out and not the store manager's job, so be it.
If expecting them to behave when they were out in public and not run around in the fancy restaurant and be loud and disrespectful to other diners is mean and not letting them be "kids," so be it.
If not allowing them to hang out at the mall for hours on end when they were teenagers is mean, so be it.
If not allowing my kids to go to a movie with their friends without an adult present is mean, so be it.
If not allowing our eight year old to have the run of the neighborhood and instead limiting his bike riding to three driveways away on either side of our driveway is mean, so be it.
If letting our kids know that, as a parent, we would reserve the right to read their emails or texts on occasion, if we felt it was warranted, is mean, so be it.
If having to know where they were, who they were with and when they would be home is mean, so be it.
If letting them struggle with making a decision about something so that they could learn HOW to make decisions and get comfortable with making decisions, instead of making the decision for them is mean, so be it.
If insisting that they make their beds and keep their rooms neat when they were younger is mean, so be it.
We took our kids to church, taught them about the Lord, and with God's grace tried our best to model it at home. If that's mean, so be it.
We taught them that we expected them to be respectful and obedient, and that when you obey your parents you are obeying and honoring God. If that's mean, so be it.
We tried our best to encourage them to say "I am sorry, please forgive me" when they had wronged someone and/or hurt their feelings. If that's mean, so be it.
We taught them that we could set boundaries for them and teach them values but ultimately they are responsible for the choices and decisions they make. If that's mean, so be it.
We tried our best to teach them to be kind and respectful to others, if that's mean, so be it.
Children are too precious to leave the raising of them to chance. When ours were young we set up external boundaries in hopes that they would, in turn, develop their own internal boundaries as they got older.
We said "no" for them in certain situations when they were younger, in hopes that they would have the confidence and strength to say "no" on their own when they were older.
I know that everyone doesn't agree and would raise their own children differently. That's fine. But these are MY children and we had to do what we felt was right. We're STILL doing what we feel is right.
Did our kids resent being sheltered? Certainly there were times when they were not happy with a "no." Of course they didn't like hearing no! They were kids! Do they resent it now?
I just asked my youngest that question. Did he resent it now? He is 20 and he looked at me with a teasing smile on his face and said "I turned out good, didn't I?" (Well, all except for using the word "good" instead of "well" I'd said he turned out o.k, lol!
My eldest wrote a blog post for me when he was twenty (you can read it here). In it I asked him to give some "parenting" tips I asked him to reflect on his childhood. In his post he said that we had "set boundaries but weren't horribly strict." In that same post I said:
I find it interesting that he said we set boundaries and weren't horribly strict, when in reality we were somewhat strict. I guess it just shows that the boundaries either made sense to him or that he didn't feel restricted or just didn't want to say it, lol!).
There was much that he could do, to make up for the things that he wasn't allowed to do.
When that same son went off to college, he wrote us a letter. In part of his letter he said:
I am a "mean" and "overprotective" mom and I sheltered my children. And I would do it again.
Be sure and come back Monday and link up to the Making Your Home Sing Monday linky party!
I am linking up to these linky parties today: