The Consulting Writer

aka The Frazzled Mom

The Mean Mom

Should I be a mean mom?

That’s a question I ask myself often.

What is a mean mom? I’m not saying an abusive mom. Rather, I mean is a mother who is strict, sort of. As I’d asked in a previous post, am I taking opportunities away from my kids, chances for them to learn and grow?

I’d say I’m not a strict as I should be. As in, I should be more diligent in having my kids do chores around the house. Instead, I always think “it’s just easier if I do it”. Why? Because I don’t have to argue about it, I don’t have to deal with the inevitable tears and it’s done correctly the first time around. In my mind, that’s the easy way out.

Yet, if I recognize that my kids will need to do hard things in order to learn and go through difficult times in order to grow, why am I avoiding it myself?

I’m a big supporter of “if the rules apply to one, they apply to all”. It really, *really* bothers me when rules are setup, but only some follow them.

Why do I not see this for myself? I tell my kids sometimes they’ll have to do difficult things. Nothing truly good or worth it is ever easy. *Ahem* I feel the tap on my own shoulder. I’m kind of avoiding the difficult thing. It takes time. It takes energy. It takes PATIENCE. Which I don’t have a lot of….because I’m tired and have no energy. lol

But if I believe my kids will grow, why wouldn’t the same “rule” apply to me?


I’m going to have to suck it up and come up with a “battle plan”. I need to tell myself “I’m not raising a child. I’m raising an adult”. I don’t want them to be spoiled, self-entitled adults. I want them to be compassionate, generous people. That’s not going to happen if I avoid giving them those critical lessons.

This is it. The darkest day. The blackest hour. Chin up, shoulders back. Let’s see what we’re made of, you and I. –The Doctor



5 comments on “The Mean Mom

  1. shanjeniah
    August 26, 2016

    Well, since you asked….

    I don’t know how old your children are, but if they are children, that’s who you’re raising today. Not adults; children. They can’t be one second older than they are right this second.

    None of us can.

    You state that you want them to be compassionate, generous people. As my 12 year old said when she came in to hug me and stayed to read your post, the way to do that is to BE compassionate and generous to them. It can be easy to overlook the fact that children are already occupied in the important work of growing. We don’t have chores for our daughter or her soon to be 15 year old brother. We do ask for help with various things – and accept no as an answer, sometimes.

    I’ve noticed that there are more messes, and less help, when a child is growing or learning a new skill. I think those things just use more energy, leaving none for the cleaning.

    I see it as an act of kindness, and a service to my family, to do things like dishes and laundry and other forms of hometending, with as much cheer and grace as I can muster – and to be honest when I’m feeling overwhelmed by them, and really would love someone else to step in.

    We talk a lot, here. So, when my daughter said she hated cleaning, I mentioned that she might try considering, when she’s in a common area of the house, whether her activities are likely to get in the way of anyone else being able to use the space. We also talked about ideas to help her not get distracted while cleaning, and assessing what to do with issues of things vs. space.

    A couple of months back, she decided, on her own, to clean the living room. She even washed the TV screen – and did a better job than I’ve ever managed, in a fraction of the time. It was so cool, I Instagrammed it! =D

    If I were ordering her to clean, and that was a battlefield between us, she wouldn’t be very likely to want to listen to these other bits of advice that might help her to learn – eventually – to loathe cleaning less than she does right now. I’m guessing that a voluntary cleanup because she just wanted to wouldn’t be happening, either.

    My son became much more helpful right around his 14th birthday. He’s a responsible type, and often schedules time to help out. Although he doesn’t have chores and has always lived school-free, he is able to honor those commitments, once he makes them.

    As for learning to do hard things – we humans evolved to challenge ourselves. Whether it’s trying to jump further, level up, spell that tricky word, imitate a bird call, or something else, I’m willing to bet that your kids already know some things about how to attain difficult goals.

    I know my beliefs fly in the face of mainstream. I’m not even a little bit strict. I’m more of a guidance counselor than an enforcer. All I can say to that is that we have an often untidy home, but four people who live together in peace nearly all the time, and who share genuine affection and lots of laughter. My children are generous and compassionate, and growing more so as they grow toward adulthood. I like them, and they like me.

    I hope this helps you find answers you and your family can live with! And that you have a chance, today, to just breathe for a few minutes, and a few more to spend just enjoying the children in your life.


    • Elizabeth Los
      August 26, 2016

      Thanks for commenting! What you have going in your home is really interesting and it gives me lots more questions.

      When I meant I’m raising an adult, I was referring to what I want them to be as “future adults”, not that I expect them to be adults now. I do think sometimes a kid is robbed of childhood experiences and I definitely don’t want that for mine. In fact, above all, I hope experience as the most important. There are times that I leave dirty dishes in the sink and the grass uncut, just to I can spend time with them.

      Your daughter is absolutely right. Teaching by example is so important. I’d wondering that, years ago, when I’d see a friend’s boy growing up. He showed no signs of empathy for the kids around him and it made me wonder: is empathy a natural behavior or something taught?

      I’m really curious about what it was like when you were growing up. Did you have any chores or responsibilities when you were a kid? Or did you have the same experiences you’re trying to setup for your kids?

      What caused your son to decide to help out more? Or is that just his personality?

      My son had had a heartfelt talk with me recently and I was very honest about how overwhelmed I felt. That I thought families were a unit, a team, that worked together, but that lately it felt like it was only me. I’m not sure if that really made an impact, because nothing has changed.

      My concern is that if I don’t teach my kids a good work ethic, they won’t have it when they are on their own and they’ll expect a lot for very little effort.

      Liked by 1 person

      • shanjeniah
        August 26, 2016

        To answer your question about my own childhood – it would be best to start with the understanding that I come from an abusive and volatile home. I was required to do dishes, to exacting specifications and often with a sibling with whom my relationship was contentious at best. This was a daily part of my life from age 8, and there were more than a few tears and blows over it – and a great deal more seething frustration I didn’t dare express openly.

        Honestly, it didn’t imbue me with a sense of responsibility. For a long time into my adulthood, I resented and resisted dishes and other enforced chores. Even as a mother, I still sometimes need to battle feelings of martyrdom and victimization.

        I don’t want that for my children, and I’ve worked very hard to create a very different life for them. It’s based on accepting them as they are, right now, and being their partner in their journey to adulthood.

        That’s a possible problem I see with too much focus on raising “future adults.” It’s easy to get worried about all the ways our kids don’t seem to be on their way to being the adults we hope they’ll be. In the process, we can forget that growth isn’t always consistent – a child can become more mature seemingly in the blink of an eye. Over and over, I’ve had the experience of feeling like something about our life was going to be making me crazy forever, only to have my child or children outgrow that behavior seemingly overnight.

        I do my best to focus on right now, and, when I can’t, to spend some time seeing how far we’ve come together, rather than fretting over the distance left to be covered.

        As for my son, part of his increased helpfulness is likely generosity and a strong sense of fair play that is more and more encompassing his own choices as well as those of others.

        It might be maturity – both in his mindset and physically, since he’s now half a head taller than his not-short mother, and stronger. It’s quite something to go shopping with him and have him tell me I can get in the car while he loads it!

        Depending on your son’s age, his desire to help may not match up with his ability to motivate himself, or pull himself away from whatever is occupying his attention. That still happens to my daughter, who turned 12 early in July. She wants to help more, but she gets consumed reading or Minecrafting or doing art or chatting with friends, and forgets until she’s exhausted.

        I don’t know for sure, because my kids have a tremendous amount of autonomy in their lives, and nearly all their time is theirs to spend as they choose, but I have a theory that kids in school, and in families with an abundance of arbitrary rules and requirements, might find it harder to take the initiative, simply because they don’t get lots of chances to do that. Also, if they’re in school several hours a day, and maybe involved with extracurriculars as well, they may be overwhelmed themselves. Growing up can be overwhelming all by itself!

        I’m not a fan of teaching kids. Teaching is done TO someone. The child becomes, in some sense, an object to be acted upon. I prefer helping my children LEARN what they need to know. I do that by having a strong work ethic myself, and by helping them to see how working toward a desired goal will help them to achieve it more quickly than just waiting.

        It might help to notice how your kids pursue their own goals. Are they willing to keep trying? Take new approaches? Take a break, and come back? Do some research to try to figure it out?

        I think we adults tend to assess kids’ “work ethic” based on adult criteria (school performance, how willing they are to do chores, etc.) But these are all externally imposed adult agendas, and kids aren’t yet adults.

        I think we can better see how they view work, effort, and initiative by paying attention to how they do their own things.

        I guess by now it’s easy to tell that I’m passionate about this topic! =)


        • Kero
          August 27, 2016

          I thought I’d chime in here…. I’m not a mom…I have some nieces that stay with me over night or for a week or so so I only know motherhood from brief moments. In your comment, shanjeniah, you mentioned that you battle feelings of martyrdom and victimization while doing chores. I feel like reason why that is is because No One Is Helping.
          I have no problem cleaning At my house(I’m not saying it’s fun). I live with a roommate who cleans up his mess. The common areas are picked up, trash/vacuuming/dishes done by a rotation of my turn- your turn. (my mother made darn sure I understood as a child that we have so many wonder inventions that make cleaning easier by removing those inventions when i complained. Never take them for granted) Because of this, I don’t hate cleaning up. I don’t experience the martyrdom nor do I feel victimized. Everyone is doing their part. I clean mine, he cleans his. It’s when I clean up after others I get irritated. When my nieces come over and they make tons of little mess. For instance, they eat a piece of string cheese. The wrapper is left on the sink. If I don’t have the child pick it up I will spend all day wandering behind her and picking up the stuff that takes only 2 seconds to wash or put away. It makes the child aware of her responsibilities. Kids aren’t going to just wake up and say I want to do the dishes from now on.. It’s the job of the parent to mold them for polite society.
          Do you want to share your office space with the guy who eats his lunch and leaves the tupaware container of speggetios on the break table for you to smell and stare at as you eat your sandwich? No! clean up after yourself dude.
          It’s funny because men do this a lot. Expect others to pick up after them. The reason why, I think, is because our society said women do the work inside and serve the men. Mothers often would treat the boys like rare and expensive flowers and wait on them hand and foot. Later in life you get men who don’t know they are supposed to help.
          Are we raising all children like this now? millennials aren’t being trained for the workforce.

          Long story short- this non-mom… Aunt… Workforce Member says … Teach the kids to clean Consulting Writer. You are doing a good job.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Elizabeth Los
            August 30, 2016

            My niece, who is 6 years old, does that – makes little messes all over the house. When her parents tell her to pick up after herself, she says “no”.

            What I’ve witnessed with her is this: She will walk around a room and just drop water on the floor or throw popcorn all over the couch and then walk away. It’s done on purpose. Why? Because she knows her parents will clean it up for her.

            After the water incident, I told her she needed to clean it up or she’d slip. She shrugged and said, “I didn’t slip.”

            Okay…new approach. “We need to think of everyone else in this house. We wouldn’t want any one of them to get hurt. If they slip on the wet stairs, they will fall and be hurt.”

            I showed her that getting down to quickly wipe up the spills wasn’t a big deal. She didn’t fight and I didn’t yell. It was just “this is something that is expected of everyone here”.

            Of course, I learned just as she did. I learned that she required a spill proof cup so she couldn’t purposefully make those messes in the future. And food was limited to the dining room table only.

            I do feel like a victim or martyr when I’m working a full time job, PLUS helping with their stuff AND doing the chores both inside and out. You’re right. It happens when I’m doing it all on my own.

            Luckily, this weekend I had a quick talk with the kids. I told them I’d be working outside, but I needed them to clean the bathrooms for me. They not only did it, but they were proud of the fact that they did it without me knowing. And they went above and beyond to take care of their laundry.

            It wasn’t about making them do chores. It was the fact that we were all doing what needed to be done, like a team. That way, we had more time to play together….laser tag!! That was a blast.


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This entry was posted on August 26, 2016 by in Daily Ramblings and tagged , , .
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