Why the World Will Never See Me as a Good Parent

She wanted her way.

I said no.

Sound familiar? It’s a regular occurrence in our house.

“You are the meanest mom!”

What? Your image of our family is shattered? Yeah, mine too.

I used to cringe when my kids said this.

Now, I just nod my head and remind myself that I must be doing something right. And most of you are too. But the world won’t always see it that way.

It’s in our children’s nature (as it is in ours) to be selfish. We want what we want and why didn’t we get it five minutes ago? I’m not picking on my kids. They are human, completely normal. So much like me.

But our culture is all about self-gratification. It’s made comfort and ease and excess the goal.

I try to say yes when I can, but let’s be honest, some answers need to be no.

This probably won’t shock you, but this isn’t popular in our world. We live in a culture that thinks they put kids first by telling them yes. It’s common, normal, applauded to be yes parents. And we are creating a generation of children who always get what they want. They have their own ipads at 3, cell phones at 7, are over-scheduled at 8, wear $150 shoes at 9 and have more freedom than they can handle at 11 and are “dating” at 12.

Parents in our society have bought into the myth that if they give their kids everything they want, they will be happy. Plus, it’s just a lot easier than saying no. No takes courage. It takes strength (especially if God’s blessed you with strong-willed children). Ahem.

The world will never see me as good parent. 

My husband and I are trying to raise our kids counter-cultural.

I say trying because we don’t have this figured out and we are learning how not to do things. But we walk against the flow, on purpose. We refuse to do what our culture demands and we say no a lot to cultural norms.We try hard to be consistent, offering grace and understanding along the way.

And we screw up every day.

Before you feel sorry for my kids, we also provide them with love and affection, meet every physical need and many, many of their wants. We splurge occasionally (which I think is absolutely necessary) and we invite our kids to talk to us about anything, as long as they can do it respectfully.

I know there are many families that do the same thing and I hope we can encourage each other. But society as a whole, will not understand your choices.

Choosing to live counter-cultural isn’t easy.  The world will never see you as a good parent. You will be misunderstood, even pitied. And your children might (probably will) resist in some areas. Living a counter-cultural life means you won’t fit in. It means your kids won’t be like everyone else. Most days my kids are okay with this, but honestly, some days it’s hard for all of us. We continually ask our kids to trust us as we try to follow God, but we know there are some things they will never understand or like.

Which gets me back to being the meanest mom ever.

And honestly, I’m okay with that.

I know I’m not alone in this, so be encouraged all you mean moms!

one :: limit screen time (set a time limit each day, or only allow it on the weekends, have a “no technology day” –whatever works for you).

two :: resist overspending– your kids are watching, don’t pass down bad spending habits and contribute to what the bulk of our society is doing. And if you do overspend, attack your debt.

three :: don’t be afraid to say no– even if society and every other parent on the block is doing it, don’t jump on the bandwagon unless it’s right for your family. Be intentional with your choices.

four :: give your kids jobs– create a sense of hard work, pride and ownership by encouraging them to work for what they want. Don’t just buy them everything.

five :: determine what your kids really need-there’s a lot of pressure as parents to give our kids the best of everything. Give your kids what God says they need. Love them unconditionally, offer grace like it’s offered to you. Laugh every day and be grateful.

six :: live by example-the Bible clearly states that we are to look different from the world we live in. If we are buying into the American Dream (bigger is better), are we setting an example for our kids? Kids often replicate parents. Give them something good to follow.

seven :: encourage alternatives– don’t just say no. Challenge your kids to creatively express themselves. Example:  I loved seeing this recently: instead of spending $100 on a homecoming football mum, a group of kids gave the money to charity and wore a t-shirt that said so.

eight :: expect more from your kids than culture demands– society says kids need stuff and all teens are lazy.  Let’s prove them wrong and challenge our children to be hard workers.

nine :: let them own mistakes– don’t fix everything. Teach your children responsibility by letting them fail sometimes. Be consistent.

ten :: splurge– surprise your kids every once in awhile by breaking one of the above rules.


  1. 2

    Wendy says

    Wait…I thought *I* was the meanest mom ever.

    For what it’s worth, I can see what you’re doing. I recognize your efforts and faith and diligence. Doing His will isn’t easy but it’s right. So, from one mean mom to another — Yay! Keep it up!

    I think the saying goes, “If it’s easy it might not be right and if it’s right, it might not be easy.” Anything worth having is worth working for.

  2. 3


    My thoughts exactly. It is hard, especially when they reach those teen years. I just try to remember I am not here to be my child’s friend, but to be their parent. I am responsible for them. If being a friend to them comes right along side that with no clashes, that all the more power. Power, may not be the best word, but you understand.

    My kids do not have ipads, cell phones, free reign on the computer, screen time, dating, or their choice of clothing. We choose, not them. The only time my kids had a cell phone was to call us in case of emergency when they took karate lessons. The instructor didn’t want us there. :-)

  3. 6

    paula says

    I love reading your blog but every once in awhile I feel like you think you’re the only one out there being THAT kind of parent. There are many of us. The blanket statement that parents are this and that and kids today are this, that and the other implies that there are more of them than there are of us. I don’t agree. I know many, many families that say no, don’t let their kids run the house and have boundaries and rules. Those families are of different faiths, different colors and different financial circumstances. And most people that read your blog are reading it because they are more like you than not, so you’re sorta preaching to the choir.

    • 6.1

      kristen says

      Paula, the blanket statement is referring to our cultural and believe it or not, I feel like I am in the minority in my community. This is meant to encourage parents who do feel like me–it’s ok to be the way you are, keep it up. I’m actually trying to “encourage” the choir. I’m sorry if you took it any other way

      • 6.1.1

        Allison says

        Encouragement ACCEPTED! :) I often get the “why are you being that way” look from folks, even my family. No. Especially from my family. So, I need all the encouragement I can get. Posts like these are always welcome on my screen!

  4. 7


    Great post! We’re horrible parents here, too. My kids have to work, save up and buy any electronic stuff they own, including laptops, gaming systems, and additional internet time for said gaming. They also help people who need it (volunteering to help roof a house for someone who was laid off, gardening for a senior, etc), and donate to charities from their own pockets.

    The instant gratification and lack of courtesy that our society is creating terrifies me. I think the worst part is related to your #9….I care for kids for a living and the number of parents who “excuse away” their child’s behaviour, or teach them that it’s always someone else’s fault, is shocking. And very sad.

  5. 8


    I really appreciated this blog. I too am a counter cultural parent and have been for 19 years now. And trust me, they will survive. My oldest, who is 19 now, did not suffer for her lack of culture and is now in Bible college pursuing her God-given plan, not the world’s. My 15 year old daughter does not date nor does she have a facebook page. I know…tisk, tisk. LOL She is happy and well rounded. My 9 yr old son has friends with iphones. I think it is insane! He too is happy and well rounded. We also homeschool, which makes us extra wierd, but that’s okay. They thought Jesus was wierd. We like wierd. Normal is boring. LOL Be encouraged that you are doing a great job with those little ones of yours. Thanks for another great post!

  6. 11

    Randi S says

    Great post! We have a child with Autism, and while it does change how we have to parent him, it also makes saying no, and not giving into his every demand that much more important…if my child screams because we won’t let him have a $5 toy, yes, this time it’s only a $5 toy (or not eating the food he has picked out, as has been the case often as of late!!) but if we give in to the screaming, it’s just something small this time but he will remember ‘I screamed last time and got this, that must be how it always is’…so while we may get dirty looks often and have people think we are horrible parents (we even had a man yell at our child recently:(), we know that ultimately, we are doing the best for him in the long run.

  7. 12

    Kim says

    Great post! I never thought of it as counter-cultural, but I guess it is. When my kids call me “mean Mom” my usual reply is “Thank you – I’m just doing my job.” Its so hard in today’s world to not say yes, I totally agree with you. I love your list too. My kids have gotten so used to me asking them if they need something or if they just want it. And if its a want, then the answer is no and I remember what it is they are asking for and then get it at a later time as that special surprise or reward for them for doing a great job or the splurge.
    Thanks for sharing this – sometimes when I look around I feel like I am the only one trying to raise kids this way.

  8. 13

    Barbra says

    Thanks for this post! I am experiencing being called “the meanest mom ever” from my 3 year old. First time in my short 8 year history of being a mom. I needed this!

  9. 14

    Heather says

    Kristin, you definitely ARE encouraging the choir! It is hard to live counter-cultural and we all need the reminders and the “atta-girls” to keep us going strong. I appreciate your blog so much! You are real and you aren’t afraid to speak the truth with so much GRACE! Thank you for this post today, it spoke to my heart!

  10. 15


    Great post! I’m a ‘mean’ mom also…as in, I don’t always let them have their way. Whew. And I ‘hang-on-for-the-ride’ when I do say ‘no’. Love your list. Good stuff!

    • 15.1

      Geri says

      Yes, me too. And when my kids said I was the meanest mom, I’d reply, Yes, I’m the meanest mom you’ll ever have! I can now tease them with that as they’re older. Stick with it!

  11. 16

    Shawna says

    This is what I needed to see. It seems like I tell my daughter no a lot when her friends get told yes all the time. You are not alone and I don’t mind being that family. Thank you for this!!

  12. 17


    I needed this today! We are having such a time with our 10-year-old. This morning, I was ready to just give in – buy whatever his friends have, let him do whatever he wants, because I am so weary from the daily battles. This post is so timely and such an encouragement to me. Thank you Kristen!

  13. 19

    Celine says

    I guess I’m biased to this mentality, the reality is that not all parents are in the same boat. I get what you are trying to say however, I am raising my kids to this mentality only because it’s all that I can do. I can’t afford to dress my son in designer clothing so I teach him that all clothing is made of the same materials it’s how you wear them that matters.

    He understands that money doesn’t buy happiness because we are happy but don’t have alot of money. He appreciates what he gets because he gets it when I can afford it.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that people who live like this are usually people who don’t have a huge amount of disposable income.

    I’m glad to hear though that some who have try to live like me :)

    • 19.1


      I think that’s part of it for me too. We have some disposable income, but because I grew up in a poor family, I understand the value of not receiving every new thing that comes along. I want my kids to see that too.

  14. 20


    I think there are more of us living this way than you realize. :)

    Also, if you’ve never heard of it, you are doing a lot of Love & Logic parenting. I adore L&L – it’s amazing and works to raise responsible adults – which is what you are doing.

  15. 21

    Karen says

    Yes! Thank you so much for your post! We are PROUDLY counter-cultural, and now I have a phrase to coin it.

    I have four children, ages 13, 8, 6 and 3. We have no electronics, period. Just one laptop. We have no ipads, Nintendos, blackberrys, Tivo, Netflix, Xbox…..none of it. And *gasp* my children are happy and thriving.

    May God continue to shower us with blessings and uplift my children to their fullest potential.

  16. 22


    I never really thought of saying “no” as being counter-cultural, but I guess in some cases it is. But, yes, as Christian parents, we do a lot of things that are against the grain and get a lot of criticism for it, but if God is happy and we are happy, who cares that someone thinks I’m over sheltering my kids by not exposing them to some of the horrible shows on TV or that I’m robbing their childhood by not having Santa bring their gifts at Christmas time.

  17. 23


    Thank you, thank you, thank you! I’ve never really cared much about being “normal”. I’ve always chosen the “weird” path to follow. That is until my child started school. I so badly want her to fit in. But I have to constantly remind myself that just simply fitting in and having the latest and greatest stuff is not where her security lies. It lies in her Heavenly Father. It’s challenging seeing all the kids in her school with ipods and iphones and not just feel like the worst parent in the world because I won’t let her have one. It’s a daily battle! I appreciate you sharing this today :-)

  18. 24

    Robyn Hirvela says

    Kristin, I couldn’t agree with you more! I was always the “MEAN” mom! Other parents even tried to make me feel guilty for not providing cell phones, shopping sprees at the mall, and a “new” car when they turned 16. It’s hard to stick to your beliefs in our society today. The peer pressure is unbelievable. I am now reaping the benefits of my “MEAN” parenting philosophy. My two oldest kids have graduated college, got jobs with fortune 500 companies, moved out of state for their jobs – on their own mind you, and are completely self sufficient!! I couldn’t be any prouder! Now, the friends that got everything their hearts desired are still living off their parents. Still being provided a lifestyle they can never afford on their own. If only their parents knew how to say NO. The greatest pat on the back is when they say thanks mom…..for not giving me everything. Keep up the mean mom status! LOL! Thanks for your post-I’m definitely sharing it!

  19. 25

    Brenda says

    Thank you Kristen! It’s good to hear this and see the other mean moms come out of the woodwork. There’s strength in numbers! 😛

  20. 27

    Syd says

    If it makes you feel any better, my mom saved a card I made when I was little that said, “My mom is so men [mean], but I love her anyway.” My mom and dad definitely adhered to your list while I was growing up and now my mom is my best friend. I can’t imagine going a day without talking to her. So, take heart!

    • 27.1

      Roberta says

      I feel like I had the same experience growing up :) my mom was the strict one of my group of friends and was my mom not my friend but I always knew she loved me and she is one of my best friends too now and I am trying to parent my kids the same way.and I look back now and see the things her strictness protected me from that i would’ve regretted.

  21. 28


    My husband and try to raise our children counter-culturally too, just as I was raised this way. To me, it’s not really a choice. If we want to follow our Faith, this is how we need to live. Try being the only SAHM in your apartment building with five kids and an unemployed husband. It’s not fun, but it is worth it to teach our kids that we believe what we believe and we still believe it even when it’s hard to swallow. Great post!

  22. 29

    Tandy B says

    Thank you for the encouragement. My husband and I purposedly want our children to be different from the world; we figure if it becomes a way of life for them now, when they are adults and have the choice as a Christian to be different, it will be something they will be used to doing and will do happily. I just remember the peer pressure so strong @ school to dress a certain way and have certain things. My family could not afford those things and I remember being miserable inside, longing for those things. So we are trying to instill in them,while they are younger, that its ok and good to be different, to not like something just because your friends like it. Plus, a contentment with what you have been given. I think limiting media exposure goes a long way toward that goal. I, like you, don’t see many around me, making the hard choices to help our children deny themselves and sometimes it is very difficult to not give in. But when my kids complain about how many chores they have to do, about what things they don’t have; I just remind them of how they lived in the Little House books (we have read the whole series aloud) and it helps put things in perspective. :-) Really, isn’t that what it is all about, YOUR perspective? Thanks again for the encouragement for this “counter-cultural” mom !

  23. 30

    Tara says

    Great post. When my kids say “You are the meanest mommy ever!” I usually tell them thank you. It means I am doing something right. My oldest is 10 and a lot of his friends have facebook, including the girls he plays with from church (one is 9 the other is 11). He thinks I am mean because I wont set up an account for him. It was bad enough I already told him no cell phone. I am so glad to see other parents setting the same boundaries. It is really encouraging. Hopefully other parents will see that kids need boundaries, not to get everything they want. They dont really know what they need yet.

  24. 31

    Doreen Brown says

    Great Job!! Reminds me of a recent situation in which a dear friend of mine called to say her children would not be coming to my daughter’s sleepover birthday party. See they were not moving quickly: there was school work and gardening to be done. It was to be done that day because all of the week’s schoolwork should be done by Friday and the weather would not permit gardening over the weekend. SO – there you have it. They are not working and cannot come to the birthday party. I told her she was doing a great job as a parent. But she soon sent me a text – My husband wants to know if you are OK with this and that I haven’t hurt your feelings.
    WHAT!?! Tell him that I am so proud of you and want to be more like you. :)
    I had the opportunity to talk to her 12 yr old daughter at church that Sunday. She apologized for not attending then frowned and said, “But I didn’t know the party was on Friday until it was too late to get my work done”. I gently explained to her that one of my regrets as a parent (I have three adult children) was allowing them to believe that it is acceptable to work harder/faster when there is an expectation or reward. It is NOT!! We must teach our children to be diligent with what is necessary simply because it is necessary. This is why I love your idea of money for the “extras”. We do not give allowances in our house – but I think I could do bonuses for extras. :)
    Our work is our prayer to God, our love to our family, and our self-worth. If we allow our children to wait to do the work until they want us to say yes to a privilege, we are doing them a great disservice. Trust me – I know. 😉

  25. 32


    I don’t have kids, but that sounds a lot like the way I was raised. I never knew it was counter-cultural – I always thought it was just good parenting!

  26. 33

    Judy says

    LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this post! An hour ago my 7-year-old said to me “THIS is why I hate you”. All because I would not allow him out of his room until he could come to me and RESPECTFULLY tell me he was sorry for his actions and wanted to do his school work.

    I SO needed to hear this!

  27. 34

    Alyssa Carter says

    What a welcome read this morning! My husband and I are counter-cultural parents as well. We have horrible relationships with our families because of this. God’s way is almost always counter culture, especially in today’s society. Thank you for the encouragement and letting all us counter cultural parents know we are not alone!!

  28. 36


    Thank you! This is so very true! We are raising a large family built through adoption in which many of the kids have special needs also. We don’t parent like a lot of people, let our kids choose to stay grounded until they comply, and homeschool. Our kids are respectful and doing so much more than it was ever expected they could do. God has blessed us amazingly and we have 5 more children who will arrive soon

  29. 37


    Proof that I was homeschooled: I had to google “homecoming football mum” because I had no idea what it was! Thanks for the post – there are some really great ideas!

  30. 38


    Love this!! I am trying so hard to be a “mean” mom – I know the end result is worth it! You are absolutely right – saying no takes courage and strength, even when the kiddo is only 2 1/2, like mine!! I know its only going to get harder, so might as well practice having strength now. Maybe by the time it comes to really imprtant things (instead of just no, not one more tv show, or no, we don’t put crayons in our nose), I won’t have to pretend to have strength – it will actually be there!

    Thanks for reminding me that good things take hard work!!!

  31. 42

    Lisa says

    I am on the other side of the fence now. My children are raised to adulthood. I struggled down the same paths that you younger parents are going & let me tell you it is not easy. (But you know that already) The battles with other parents, church members and neighbors was overwhelming for me at times. I also struggled with the fear that I was making big mistakes. Sound familiar? Now that our 4 kids, 3 boys & 1 girl are adults, I find myself VERY grateful I fought the fight. They have made many of their own mistakes and I was so scared for them but now, I can see them forming their lives with the beliefs & ideals they were taught. I see our kids struggle with their peers that were given everything, had no rules and were sheltered from life’s consequences and those kids are unable to cope with life. They are selfish, unable to care about anyone else but themselves, cannot keep jobs or make commitments. They do not have any social skills & have no clue what hard work, loyalty or honesty is. Our children are stronger & better prepared for their struggles because they learned how to compromise or save for the expensive items because we did not give them everything they wanted. They saw & experienced 1st hand what it was like to lose loved ones from old age & illness and care for someone who was very ill or who just needed to be included in a family. But after it is all said & done, they are turning out to be good strong people I am proud of.

    So hang in there!!!!! It is worth it. We went through several rough years with our children (they are bull headed like their parents) but as time goes by, I am seeing positive results. Pats on the back to all of you young parents. Good works will be rewarded.

  32. 43

    Kate N. says

    great post Kristen! thanks for the encouragement. i posted a link on facebook and i just noticed that there had been several others who have also.

    kate n.

  33. 44


    I loved this. LOVED LOVED. We have family members whose kid is 11 – she has gone through all the iPhones, all the recent ipads, MAC computers… and we wonder every Christmas and birthday – what’s next? I know our kids will be mad (they are young, 3 and 1) but I agree with you 100%. For what it’s worth – your kids look pretty normal and VERY cute! They are too messed up from you being a “bad mom!”

  34. 45

    Lynette says

    Thank you for this. The reminder/encouragement that it’s all worth it in the end puts days like yesterday’s multiple time-outs and “I hate you mommy” in perspective.

  35. 46


    Just by having six kids we are counter-cultural. I worry that my kids will at times resent our family size because it does make us look different and it does mean we can’t do everything. I try to tell my kids when it is hard on me too. We are blessed to be part of a community of people trying to live the same values and so our kids know we are not the only family living this way. It is not easy but it is worth it. And God always gives me the encouragement I need right when I begin to question it all.

  36. 47

    Amanda M says

    BRAVO! According to this, I was raised counter-culture and plan to raise my children that way. ‘No’ is necessary. ‘No’ is required. I applaud your bad parenting and hope that I can be strong and brave like you and my parents in the way I raise my family.

  37. 48


    Oh girl, I wouldn’t sweat the MEANEST MOM in the world garb. Your kids will never regret you standing firm and guiding them to healthy decisions.
    I’m on the other end of my parenting (mine are 21, 19 & 17). Our relationship is tight. They know I’m not going to fold like a cheap tent on my beliefs or values. Which is funny, cause neither will they. Each of them are SOULED OUT to Christ and aren’t interested in “following” the world or friends.
    I’d like to think….that God used their dad & I to mold them into the good young people they are today. We’ve invested in them and said no! Our family couldn’t afford all those expensive things (we were seminary/ministry people) but our kids never cried or complained, ever! They understood, we cannot afford that.
    I still crack up when I think back to a grocery shopping trip when they were small…. On the cereal aisle–“Mama, do we have a coupon for this kind?”

    Trust me, it’s way cooler to have healthy, God-loving kids who choose not to party or live completely for self than it is to have the wild or popular spoiled ones. Just my opinion, of course.

  38. 49


    Kristen, I’m now 27, but as a child in the late 80’s/early 90’s, my parents were the “worst parents” for not letting me have video games in our house when EVERY child had a new Nintendo. I am almost certain I wouldn’t have the same level of curiosity and drive to build original ideas had they given in. Turns out they weren’t the “worst” but quite the opposite. Stand your ground and thanks for this post.

  39. 51


    I LOVE this post and echo what others have said. I have young ones and older ones and the older ones are very much different from their peers (in a good way!). Great to have the encouragement!

  40. 52


    I had another parent try to explain to my why my 10 year old needs a cell phone. My child is hardly ever away from me or my husband. And when she is, she is with a trusted friend, but yet she “needs” a cell phone? I figured I should at least teach her to use my cell phone because we don’t have a land line anymore. But that has only taught me that I am right because she spent all day texting her other 10 year old friends who have cell phones. I had a little glimpse into my future.

  41. 53


    This article pretty much summed up my desires for raising our children. You are doing a great, great job…even if you are the meanest mom in the world :)

  42. 54


    I love this post. Would you mind if I put a link to this blog post of yours on my blog?
    I would really love to do a blog using your “Ten Tangible ways to raise your kids counter cultural”
    I will fully give you credit for the list and list you as the source. Just want permission before doing so :)
    (Feel free to give or deny permission to this as it is Yours. :) Just send me an email either way if at all possible.)

    Thank you for loving your kids too much to just give them everything the world says they need to have.

  43. 55


    BRAVO to you! I’m in the group with a grown child and the mean mom definitely paid off!! I’ve got a 21 yo daughter who is totally independent, in a career of her dreams and just bought her first home. PROUD mama here! She did this all on her own. She was taught that you get what you work for and nothing more. If she thinks she wants something she decides if it’s really a need or just a want. She knows that wants are ok too, as long as you are willing to work and save for it. Every NO was worth it. She is the proof and her future children will be so much better off for this!

    It’s great to hear so many others doing the same as I did. It’s NOT easy, never will be but the benefits are immeasurable!

  44. 56

    Linda says

    Amen! This is what we strive for too.

    My kids are 7 and 4 3/4 (both are strong willed!! lucky me! :) )and they are already noticing the differences – why does so and so have more toys than me? Why can’t I do soccer and Tae Kwon Do, too? etc, etc. Sometimes it’s hard to stand my ground, sometimes I feel like I am always having to say no – for financial reasons, or timing reasons, or simply because I think it’s in their best interests to say no.

    We say yes when we can and feel it is appropriate. We encourage service – we all did Kids Against Hunger a few weeks ago as a family. We splurge occasionally too – last night we packed up the kids and heading to the movie theatre – a rare treat in my house. Next week is spring break and we have a few fun events planned.

    It’s more important to me that my kids remember the important and simple things – catching fireflies in the back yard, camping out, walking in the woods as a family, board game nights, and above all else, that everything we did was God centered. The moments when my kids talk about God and how much he loves us and died on the cross to save us, I know I am doing the right thing by standing firm on what I believe is right for them to do or not do. So, I guess you can call me the meanest mom in the world too, and I’ll take that title with pride. :)

  45. 58


    So … I LOVE this post. And I totally agree with you. But the English teacher/grammar-freak in me wants to know, can you say “counter-culturalLY”? :~)

  46. 59


    This was a terrific post. I was nodding my head and “amening” all the way through. This was my first time to visit your blog, and I will return.

  47. 60

    Amy says

    So encouraging! It’s hard to swim upstream, but encouraging to remember that it’s worth it. Thank you!

  48. 61


    I really like your list. Amen!

    It is hard to say no. Plus sometimes I just get tired of being asked things like “Can I have a cookie?” or “Can I have gum?” and having to make all the mudane decisions when it’s too easy to just say yes because it’s EASY!

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    “My husband and I are trying to raise our kids counter-culturalLY.” People are counter-cultural, you’re raising your children counter-culturally. I know everyone’s brains aren’t wired the same way, but every time I read “counter-cultural” when it ought to have been “counter-culturally,” I hit a mental wall. Like when people elect to eschew using capital letters, or can’t use an apostrophe correctly. If not for ease of reading, being grammatically correct gives the audience the feeling that your writing is legitimate. There’s an implied level of wisdom that comes with good grammar. I joke with my students that using bad grammar is like wearing a dirty tee-shirt when you have a perfectly clean one hanging in your closet; it isn’t putting your best foot forward, and gives the impression to others that they’re lazy, or simply don’t care. But, you are an adult after all, and certainly don’t need lectures on grammar from a stranger. Bottom line is that what you have to say is valuable, and deserves the best presentation possible. 😉

    • 62.1

      Mac Wilson says

      Well put Melissa. Wouldn’t hurt to proof either. This blog was forwarded to me from my childhood friend who taught English for many years until her retirement. We graduated high school in 1956. I’m surprised she did not point the grammar mistakes out to me. The errors that jumped out at me started in the fourth paragraph where cultural was used instead of culture. Was this mispelling or just sloppy writing. Same thing showed up again further down the page.
      Love the topic. My wife and I married at 16 and 17 years of age. That was 55 years ago. She had the last of our 3 children shortly after turning 21.
      We both worked and consequently didn’t have time to negotiate with the children. We spared our energy by making the children fetch the paddle when needed. Those trips were required less and less. Our 3 children had 10 children who are all grown and have adopted the same parenting procedures. We expect the same marvelous results.

    • 62.2

      Jennifer Ott says

      I agree with her post in its entirety, but I couldn’t stomach the bad grammar! I am glad to know I wasn’t the only one!

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    Kim McClintic says

    I wholeheartedly agree with this post. Raising your children counter-cultural can be extremely difficult. Our children are constantly being bombarded by messages about instant gratification. I have chosen to raise my children with the understanding that rewards come with work and perseverance and the world should not dictate how you live your life. Thank you for the post.

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    Tell me about it. I’m a nanny. While I love “my” kids dearly and adore my job, being a ::yes:: parent does nothing but harm the children. I see it first-hand.

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    Erika says

    You make excellent points. We were like this, too. In fact, we expected our daughter to have chores and to complete them. She was expected to take care of her part of the family obligations. There were times people said we worked her too hard and she was convinced of the same. When she felt that way we would sit down as a family and go over all of her responsibilities to take a clear look and determine if they or she were right. It always turned out she didn’t have very many and they were not overburdening. The problem was always due to her approach. For instance, she would wait until 9 pm to do the dishes rather than doing them after dinner. So, she might complain her parents watched TV while she worked late into the night. But, it was her choice to do so. After all of these years she can out-work any man and comfortably maintain a household. Many grown men have attested to this fact and have warned young men that they had better get moving before she out-works them, too. She has recognized the benefits of learning to work hard during her youth. When she sees her friends who cannot complete simple tasks it gives her confidence knowing she can do it and more. Childhood is for training for adulthood using appropriate steps according to their age. Doing anything less hurts them and makes them ill-prepared for life.

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    Wow, amen! What a refreshing post — it’s nice to know that the way I have been raised and taught to teach my kids is actually respected by some. Just reading through all those comment encouraged me too.

    I am 18, in a house with seven younger siblings. I am the oldest, so I have basically been raised to raise kids, lol. These are exactly the principles I will go by when I have my own.

    And, hello… yeah, six-year-olds with the iPads and the cell phones? At that age, I got excited over a new package of markers, thank you very much.

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    Hello, I am a missionary in Spain. I, along with 10 other Christian ladies, have started a blog that covers everything in a woman´s life, with a Christian perspective. I ran across this article and would like to translate it. I would like to ask your permission. I would add a link to the original and mention a bit of who you are in Spanish.

    My other personal blog is elrincondemara.blogpsot.com

    Thanks! God bless!

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    Hilarie says

    I don’t personally have kids of my own but I will say that my parents raised my brother and me this way and I thank them everyday for it. Some of my friends don’t understand the meaning of work, they can’t/won’t put down the phone, and they can’t live without the TV. I am now 22 and I have already come so far in life and achieved so much, and it’s honestly because my parents gave me the knowledge and the ethnics to do so well.

    I just want to let you parents know that, while you might be “mean parents” now, they will thank you sooner or later. Keep up the hard work.

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    Joy says

    Hello, I am also a “mean mom”. One of the benefits of being an older mom (I had my kids in my late 30’s) is that I feel less need to “go with the flow” of the parents around me. I just don’t feel the need to fit in. I’m done with that. I taught school for many years before I had my own children and I saw the spoils of permissive parenting every day. I think parents were bombarded in the 70s and 80s and into the 90s with so-called “parenting experts” who convinced them that if they said anything but “yes” they would cause their children psychological harm. We have a generation of young people who think they should be in a constant state of “happy” and we wonder why the Prozac is flying off of the shelves!? Saying “no” is one of the best gifts we can give our children. That is the only “flow” we are going with in our household. I am blessed with a husband who agrees. Thanks for your post. Your family is an inspiration!

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    Charity says

    I absolutely loved your post, and deeply appreciate the reality of your post! <3

    However, i want to say to those who feel being counter cultur.al is the 'norm' and there is a lot more parents 'out there like us' than the author thinks…. i lovingly have to say that your perception is misguided. We are the minority. True Christians LIVE counter cultural, churched Christians who live this way are less than 10% of the US population. So yes, we are very much a minority in society as a whole.
    I saw a lot of 'i know plenty of other mom's who live counter cultural' – to that I say GOOD! that means you're flowing in the right circles. Godly ones that encourage you to live Biblical lifestyles.
    BUT – that doesn't change the fact that society as a whole IS very self indulgent. Those who live counter cultural and think its the norm, next time pay close attention to the reaction of strangers when you have to tell your child 'no' to the candy they're demanding.

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    Thanks for the “splurge” at the end. I think i grew up with all of the above, except that one, and it creates a very different world from what i think you’re going for. the Splurge is key!

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    Zhen Wu says

    Thanks for the great ideas! Often we hear parents say that I am not my kids friend; or if they don’t like what I am saying, I must be doing a great job. Also, some will blame our culture, our society, even the teachers Too often, I speak to parents who feel they have little control except being adversarial to their children.

    My wife and I both believe that children at different age need the parents to be treat them differently. What worked when they are infants don’t work now that they are teenagers. Any of the conflicts that I had with my children all stem from my inabilitity to handle the situation. As my children age, we find that we have to increase our respect for their abilities. Yes, sometimes, what they want to do would hurt them physically and/or emotionally, but apart of the respect for them should allow them to be hurt so they learn. After the age 12, they want to use what you have taught them in the first 12 years to test the world. A lot of our struggles with them stem from us know what works and what don’t and us trying to shield them from harm. If your kids are anything like you, strong, independt, they will want to try with you knowing or not. What I’m saying is that “supression” doesn’t work with teens. The more we sacnction, the more appealing it becomes. We spend a lot of times play out the senarios with my kids. It starts out somehting like: “Well, let’s talk about it. I don’t think it will be wise to do this because xxxxxxx. let’s play it out. when you do this, what are the possible outcomes? then we study each outcome and see if they are willing to handle the consequences of the outcomes”; often when we do this, we find my apprehenssion is an over reasction, so this process helps both my children and us. Also, this is apart of the critical thinking analysis process. The more we do this with them, the more they will do this for themselves. It actually reduces our opportunites to say no because they have worked it out themselves. If they decide to still do it after the process, we want to be involved and apart of it. It really has increased our communication and trust when I don’t make them wrong. They are not wrong because they are inexperienced. They are asking us for guidence whenever they come to us with a request. BE PATIENT! do use the excuse of busy work schedule just say no and moving on. That’s when they go to their friends for advice. That’s the worst. WE ARE THEIR PARTNERS IN LIFE!

    here are some of the things we do with our kids:
    Be Honest to our kids no matter how bad it is. Don’t use lies to munipulate them under the disguise of “protection”
    Be present; Look them in the eyes and pay 100% attention when they are speaking to you.
    Have dinner as a family together with the TV off. We are often suprised that they will share.
    Be consistent in our decisions so our kids know what to expect.
    Establish some absolutes and negotiables. Honesty, Respect, 3.5 minimum GPA. Contribute as a fully functional family memeber are our ( absolutes )non-negotiables.
    Be the role model of how we want them to be.

    We as a family have been reading the book Parenting the QBQ way. http://qbq.com/pqw/ it’s very helpful. We also have read the book 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens. Also these books help develope a positive mindset. The next book we will take on together is “Think and Grow Rich”

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    Heather says

    I was very upset today to hear my 6 year old announce “My life is horrible and so is this family”. So while she didn’t say I was the meanest mom, it was along that line. I feel much better after reading this post! I have to remind myself to not take it personally! or wait, I guess I do take it personally and consider it a job well done :)

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    Danielle says

    I’m not a mum but recently worked a year as an au pair doing childcare and I can definitely vouch for the fact that standing your grand on “no” can be difficult at times but kids do benefit from it. However, I would be shocked that you would think most people would think you are not good parents, granted my friends and I are not parents yet but when we talk about the future our ideas are absolutely in tune with everything you’ve written!

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  63. 79

    Jessica says

    Oh my goodness… why am I just now finding your blog? It is so nice to know I’m in jeapardy of loosing my title as Meanest Mom Ever! It’s nice to know like-minded moms DO exist!

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