“I can’t go? You’re the meanest mom ever! I wish I lived at Jamie’s house!” Do you wonder what you did wrong to fail so miserably as a parent? If so, pay close attention to what I am about to say. According to a renowned, respected writer, if you feel guilty about incidents like this, you have failed your child. According to the researcher, a successful mom is a Mean Mom. Now, wait a minute, you may object. He did not say that, did he?
The researcher, Abraham Maslow, introduced a theory in 1943 at a newspaper called A Theory of Human Motivation. He identified a hierarchy of human needs that must be fulfilled, in sequential order, to reach full maturity, or what he termed self-actualization. This theory was accepted and adopted throughout the world and has earned him the name Father of Humanistic Psychology.
The hierarchy is composed of five levels. If we are not provided the crucial needs of every level, we can’t progress effectively to another one, thus interrupting the process of getting a fully mature adult.
Physiological – food, water, shelter
Safety – security
Self-esteem – value and confidence
Self-actualization – skill to find your passion
Wait, none of these levels says to be a Mean Mom. Really, one does. Can you guess which one? If you guessed Safety, you’re correct. Let’s look at why. What is security to a child? A child feels secure when certain that the adults counted on to keep them from injury will be there always and unfailingly, regardless of what the circumstances.
As a child grows, safety is provided in different ways. For infants it’s being warm, comfortable and attended to. For toddlers, it is protection as they learn to explore their world. For pre-schoolers, it means to start to understand boundaries as they learn social skills.
School-age children feel safe when assured that home will be a non-changing constant in the face of many new experiences as they separate themselves for the first time from family. Teen-agers feel safe when they know that whatever personalities they try on will not fool their parents, and that their parents will keep them protected from encounters they think that they are prepared for, but aren’t.
If you consider security from this perspective, it becomes clear that your job really does include being a Mean Mom: setting clear boundaries and saying No! When the boundaries are being tested, each and every time without fail. Testing the bounds is their way of checking to see if the safety net is still in place. Each time you back down, the bounds will be analyzed again. Being a Mean Mom requires staying consistent, even when you are the only parent on the block who’s. Being a Mean Mom provides the safety and security your children will need to progress to maturity.
How will you know if you’re successful? Your children will let you know. When my son was 3 years old, a friend asked why he loves his mother. His response was, “Because she feeds me great food.” When he was in junior high school, a friend asked him to do something against house rules. The friend’s mother overheard him reply, “No way, man. You can’t get away with anything with my mother.”
His answer was that the friend did not have a curfew. What came out of his mouth next was my affirmation I was a successful mean mom. He explained, “I guess his mother does not care about him.” As a mom, that was among the most beautiful things I’ve ever heard. But it’s not straightforward. Have you got what it takes?
The author, Maureen LoBue, M.Ed., has united both personal and professional experience to make Mean Mom’s Club: The Mother’s Rule Book. The purpose is to offer a common sense, ready to use reference for busy moms who need to learn the way to maintain control of any situation right now. The seven rules set out in the book prepare moms to deal with situations at different ages for different kids, using their own parenting style. They allow you to understand why your kids are doing what they do and help you to plan ahead to find the best way to handle it when they do.