Meet the Mean Mom Rules

Published Jan 19, 2013 at 04:00AM

Love and logic. Attachment. Holistic. Propagative. Concerted cultivation.

When it comes to parenting styles, there's no shortage of words and phrases to describe the choices any individual set of parents may make in the rearing of their children. Some strike me as trendy nonsense, others as outdated modes of thinking best left in the past. Most are somewhere in the middle.

And I think for most parents, it's not one singular approach that is their best and only method of parenting. Rather, most parents I know — including myself and my husband — use a grab-bag of parenting techniques and methods with the overarching philosophy that we'll always try to make the best choices we can and as long as love is at their root, our kids will probably come out OK. For better or worse, we are ALL making it up as we go.

While I don't subscribe to a particular parenting style, I do try to approach every parenting situation with love and kindness, understanding and flexibility. Every situation, that is, except those that fall under what I have come to call my Mean Mom Rules.

Mean Mom Rules are a set of absolute, dictatorial edicts governing specific situations that drive me nuts. They are not negotiable. There will be no diversion program for violations of these rules. There is no counseling of perpetrators, no three strikes policy, no leniency from the Court of Mom. There is a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to the Mean Mom Rules.

Mean Mom Rule No. 1: If I see or hear you chewing gum, it will go in the garbage.

This rule is based on the fact that gum smacking is one of the most annoying noises a child can produce. It's also based on the number of times I have had to cut chewing gum out of the carpet or scrape it off the kitchen floor.

If I see my child pulling gum out of his mouth and playing with it, it goes in the garbage. Popping gum? Garbage. Smacking gum like a Valley Girl? Garbage. My kids know from the look on my face when they've broken this rule, and will dutifully trudge to the kitchen to toss their gum in the trash can.

Mean Mom Rule No. 2: If you leave the door open when you go outside (particularly if it is below 32 degrees), do not be surprised to find the door locked upon your return to the house.

Years of asking, begging, yelling and explaining about shutting the door when exiting the house have apparently done no good. My kids (and sometimes my husband) still behave as if they were born in a barn, and don't appear to have much respect for the hard-working thermostat. The answer? Five minutes locked outside, possibly shivering on the front porch without a coat, won't give anyone frostbite, but may make more of a habit out of shutting the door.

Mean Mom Rule No. 3: Especially terrible table manners will get you an invitation to eat outside. Implementation of this rule is more often phrased thusly: “If you want to eat like a cow, you can eat outside.” This rule is invoked at egregious chewing with the mouth open, any eating method that resembles shoveling and failure to use utensils appropriately (i.e., turning non-finger foods into finger foods).

Mean Mom Rule No. 4: If I step on Legos with my bare foot (or if Legos are on the floor where I am walking), they will go in the garbage. I don't care if it's the rare decorative exhaust port piece to the Lego Death Star. It's trash if I find it with a bare foot. Period.

Really these are just absurd, over-the-top reactions to pet peeves. I know this. But it doesn't make me take infractions of these rules any less seriously.

I am so tired of the door getting left open.

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