Comments about ‘How (and why) to be the meanest mom in the world’

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Published: Tuesday, Nov. 12 2013 1:30 p.m. MST

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orem, UT

All ideas here are spot on!

Danny Chipman
Lehi, UT

Superb ideas, but with one minor problem. You use the word "make" (as in "force") a lot. You cannot MAKE anyone do anything, as undisciplined kids will quickly teach their parents. Rather, choices ought to be offered, both of which are acceptable to the parent. Let the kids choose, and follow through with the consequences. For example, if a kid is being rude and disgusting at the dinner table, offer a choice such as "would you like to mind your manners here or take your dinner to eat in the bathroom where we won't be grossed out by your behavior?" If the misbehavior persists, move the child to the bathroom. Both are acceptable choices, and the child will feel empowered with the right to choose.

It is essential that parents know what is in their realm of control and what is not. A parent cannot force a child to fall asleep. Remain in the bedroom, not bothering the adults, yes, but not conk out at any set time. Children cannot be forced to work, but they can have priveleges suspended if they don't. Parents CAN control WHERE behavior is to take place, just not what the behavior is.

Orem, UT

Danny, I think that's what she meant by "make." I doubt she is advocating force or violence.

Detroit, MI

In all candor, I am very tired of such articles here at the world's leading news journal for families. The author (and the DN by publishing it) clearly assume every reader understands what she's getting at. And that's a big assumption to make.

This is the perfect article for an abusive parent to use as rationale for their harshness and mean-spiritedness. And also as their excuse for dominating their children's personalities and disrespecting their basic human need for an sense of agency, which even the smallest children need to a degree.

This type of abuse goes on unchecked in A LOT of LDS families. What if we talked about this for awhile? You know, not just throwing your readership an occasional "Sunday in-depth" on this difficult subject, as a salve to everyone's conscience, but a commitment to dialog on this terribly harmful and counterproductive reality?

I think this would be directly in line with the expressly stated purpose of this publication.

American Fork, UT

I agree with most of these ideas, however it seems that every generation thinks that the generation after them is going to ruin the world, it gets a bit old after a while. I look at the youth in my ward and see some amazing kids, I don't think it's as bleak as all of the doomsayers say.


Obviously, we should raise our children to be responsible and all of that. But words such as "meanest" and "make" portray such a negative (and erroneous) view on parenthood and human nature in general. The attitude assumes children hate to do anything good and are evil little creatures that have to be forced into doing anything good for themselves. Why do so many popular family articles, with parents being praised as great, refuse to use tactics like gentle persuasion, kindness, love unfeigned? Assuming your children have a natural inclination to please their parents and do good things will go a long ways in raising great children and having a fun time while you're at it!

Orem, UT

One downfall to this article is that is says "Mom" instead of "Parent". To say that implies that only the Mom can do this. I as a Dad of 3 seem to be the rule enforcer and the "meanest Dad". The gender bias in this is poor. I understand that the title refers to the story, however without a joint parenting the rules given don't mean squat.

Salt lake City, UT

I think she says "Mom" because she is writing it, and she is Mom. My parents "made" me do stuff all the time and I am grateful to them for it - because of it, I budget well, I make thoughtful decisions, and I consider myself a fairly good worker as well. All because my parents were strict and didn't take any nonsense! However, I have friends who's parents would fall under the "Cool" category and they are having a hard time adjusting to adult life. So even though I don't have kids yet, I plan to follow these as much as possible!

Tempe, AZ

“It's not our job to toughen our children up to face a cruel and heartless world. It's our job to raise children who will make the world a little less cruel and heartless.” -L.R. Knost

I'm not trying to say that parents should not help their children to be fully functional members of society, but frankly, the world is currently being controlled by a generation that was raised by "mean people", and I'd be just fine if my generation turned out to lead the world in a more compassionate manner. I am a 23 year old with a master's degree who works in medical research and moved out of the house at 18. By most definitions I am a parental success story, and my parents never had to be mean to me.

I grew up knowing that my parents had high expectations of me because they LOVED me and BELIEVED in me, not because they were the meanest parents in the world. Change your attitude towards your children and watch how their demeanor will follow.

Hans Delbruck
Spokane, WA


While I agree with what you're saying in principle, in practice sacrificing accountability for compassion risks venturing into the arbitrary. I've been in a career now for 24 years, have had several supervisors, and regardless of temperament and demeanor, the best were those who applied high but reasonable standards in a consistent manner. Parents, like bosses, are most effective when they communicate and uphold high standards for behavior and performance; no need to be mean or cruel. Disregarding such standards for whatever reason (either out of a desire to be liked, or a desire to be feared) does no one any favors, and in fact is more harmful than any perceived harshness in the process of firmly demanding accountability to consistent standards and expectations.

Having raised a few kids and worked with several others, the best thing this rising generation can learn is to be accountable for their actions.

Woods Cross, UT

@Danny Chipman,

Bud, we can't make our kids do things, but we are light-weights. Moms CAN make their kid do certain things, because Moms have the power of "the look." It is "the look" that combines loving disapproval, disappointment and righteous indignation into a force that borders on nuclear fusion. One does not challenge "the look." It is a force that can only be overcome at the peril of one's soul.

Husbands beware... My wife has the power of "the look." She used it on me once three years ago. My eyebrows are just now beginning to grow back.

orem, UT

Oatmeal - that's funny!

I actually made myself a certificate that said I was a member of the Mean Mom Club. The attitude of this author is somewhat tongue-in-cheek. I doubt she is really "mean". She's playing with the idea that "firm" translates into "mean" sometimes in the eyes of kids. If you beat them to the punch you can steal some of their thunder and return them to their senses.

My kids, now older, give it right back to me. They threaten if I turn into an ornery, demanding old person they will move back home with their many, loud children. I think maybe "the look" fades as we turn into grandparents......

Zona Zone
Mesa, AZ

I disagree with one thing. The worst generation in American history is not the generation currently being raised, but the Baby Boomer generation.

St Louis, MO

I've always promised myself I would never become one those curmudgeonly "Well, Back In My Day" kinds of dads, and for the most part I've stuck to it. The micro details of every generation's difficulties may change, but the ideas brought up in this article are not new. They would've applied to my parents raising me as well as they do to me raising my kids. Really, most of these things are common sense, at least to my wife and me.

Objections to the specific wording of the ideas and the commenting denouncing "abusive" LDS households (a "LOT" of them, apparently) and "harshness and mean-spiritedness" are too strident by half. Obviously any disciplinary ideal can be taken too far, but no reader who has a baseline understanding of human nature is going to be influenced to move towards abuse by a column like this. You can't write for the benefit of the lowest common denominator ("Hey, parents . . abuse is bad!").

Zona Zone's comment might be a little too "on the nose," but I was always more than a little skeptical of a group of people who were comfortable calling themselves "The Greatest Generation."

compton, CA

ya im sure parents that beat there kids read articals about parenting smart guy...

Layton, UT

I somewhat disagree with #3 about not pulling strings. The Real World is full of people who do interfere and complain and persist at bugging everyone around them to get what they want... and guess what!?


Children need to learn that they are not just nice citizens, but that if they really want something they should locate the officials with the authority (like coaches, leaders and bosses) and make their wishes known. Sometimes that takes speaking up for what you want.

You will never reach your full potential if at some point you don't leave the crowd of complacent team-players and try for positions of leadership. That's a tough thing to teach to kids, cuz most adults don't get it. We're conditioned to comply and in doing so we often compromise our happiness. Of course the flipside is that often people seeking what they want do attrocious things to get it. So clearly there's a balance, but asserting oneself in behalf of your child is important. It may even convey the message that you care about the child more than the activity.

Las Vegas, NV

Kelsiroo - I believed the same thing when I was 23 years old. Life experience teaches you otherwise. Every child is different and the spirit of these "rules" is correct. Can you do it in a loving and compassionate way? I like to think so. But it is naive to believe that merely expecting greatness from your kids will produce greatness. Boundaries and consequences are necessary.

Mount Pleasant, UT

I remember telling my Mother that she was mean because I couldn't get my way with her and I'll never forget(even 62 years later) the sadness that came upon her beautiful face and I felt ashamed. I haven't thought about that for decades. She has passed on and her countenance, guidance and true love still remain very alive in my heart and my mind. She was incredible. I miss her.

Lancaster, CA

I loved my friendly competition with a neighbor as to who was going to win the "meanest mom of the year award." I always told my daughter,"If she didn't think I were 'mean' at least once a day, I wasn't doing my job as a parent." So, yes, when she called me mean, I would tell her, "thank you. that means I'm doing my job." It really irritated her at first, but she now understands why I was "mean." And, "mean" referred to her perception of me at a particular moment; not that I was really mean. We made her pay for stuff half way; she had a bedtime; etc. Parents are there to guide and teach their children to become productive citizens and responsible adults. The best thing for them is to be "mean." I LOVED this article! Finally, I feel validated!

Salem, Utah

At my house, I discovered that my kids don't see these things as mean when that's what they've always had. In fact, my teens frequently tell me they "won the parent lottery" because we have been very clear about our expectations before any questions arose. For example, cell phone issues were discussed around the dinner table as a general topic years ago, as we developed our own ideas about their priority in our family and what purposes they would serve. This was before our kids even had an interest in cell phones. They understand our choices and what factors influence them. They also understand that as our family's needs and circumstances change, our cell phone policy may change, and they can present their views without fear of reprisal.

The main point is that discussion is ongoing, values are the things that don't change, and the policies only serve to support the values. When the whole family participates in that, meanness doesn't even enter the picture, and everyone is clear on what is acceptable and why.

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