Being Known as “The Strict Mom”

This summer I was able to get together with some friends for a night of catching up. We enjoyed each others’ company over a glass of wine out by the fire pit on a cool night. Over the course of the evening, we reminisced about the younger years when our daughters first met and how wonderful it was that they were all still such tight friends. As a mom, it was reassuring to know your child had chosen well in the “friend department.” As the conversation continued, we discovered something about ourselves that came as a surprise. Our daughters had apparently ranked us on who was the “strictest mom”…with me taking top billing.   

Who, me?  No way!

Meanie Me

I guess I shouldn’t have been too shocked to hear it. At first, I was a little sad that the girls thought of me that way, but soon realized I, indeed, was deserving of this new found title. I was their mom, not their friend.  There would be time for that later. 

When I got home that evening I started to remember some of “incidents” that probably earned me my ranking. Now, to be honest, my oldest was probably the recipient of most of the dramatic “strict mom” moments…just because she was, well, the oldest. There was the birthday party she was invited to when she was in 4th grade (10 years old). A sleepover with all the trimmings. During the party, the mother called to ask if my daughter was allowed to see the movie they were about to watch. It was PG-13. She couldn’t understand why this was a problem. My daughter followed our rules, but was, unfortunately, was left out and went to bed instead. I felt like a “meanie.”

Then there was the time she asked to go to a concert in the park at night. She was 13. I of course, asked whose parents would be there to supervise, and was satisfied with her answers. I never had a problem believing my kids. They knew I would check. When the mom pulled in to pick my daughter up, I went outside to make sure the girls would know where she was during the concert. To my surprise, the mom answered, “Oh we’re not staying, I’m just dropping them off and picking them up.” Without hesitation, I made my daughter exit the car. The mom seemed insulted, but I just stated that I was not comfortable with a 13-year-old being unsupervised at a concert where adults were drinking. I guess I was the only mom feeling that way. There were plenty of tears, as I tried to explain to my daughter that I was doing what was best for her.

Owning My Title

Over the years my “strict parenting style” became well known among their friends to the point of “your mom probably won’t let you” becoming their catch-phrase.  Not letting a 13-year old go to a music festival with friends unsupervised, not letting her newly licensed friend drive a van full of 15 and 16-year old teenagers 2 hours away for a basketball game, or going on car dates before they were 16. Call me strict, a meanie, uptight…whatever. I always thought it was good parenting.

So this summer I asked them. I asked them about being a strict mom, and if I had ruined their childhood. I was prepared to have my feelings hurt, but the answer I got from my girls was surprising.  

Nah, I hadn’t ruined their childhood. They were ok with their crazy mom. Lucky for me, most of their friends thought I was funny so they could look past my strictness. My daughters realize now that I was keeping them safe from situations that could easily go wrong.  

Your Oldest Child is Always Your Guinea Pig. 

My oldest still reminds me I let her sisters do stuff that she never got to do. Sorry kiddo, that’s just how it goes. They tell me I got soft over the years, letting their baby sister do a lot more. I don’t think I got soft, just wiser. I think I realized that I did have to let them experience some things so they would know how to make smart decisions on their own. Mission accomplished!  My plan had worked!  I think their dad and I were able to pull it off ten-fold!  My kids can now recognize what a smart decision is.  What is appropriate and what is not. 

Ahhh, I have taught them well….

I still get misty eyed when my 21-year old is home for the summer and asks what time she should be home. Either that, or she just knows to check in or “mom will bug the living daylights outta me” until she texts me back. Probably the latter. 

Wear it Proudly, Moms!

Being strict really comes out of love and worry for your kids. It’s not a way to control them. Don’t confuse the two. For now, dig your heels in and don’t be afraid to say no. You are their mom first…being friends comes later.  Your kids will understand…maybe now, and maybe later.

My girls may not realize it yet, but they will do the same thing when they have kids.  There might be a few tweaks here and there, but I am confident I will pass down the title of “Strictest Mom” to all three!  Wear it proudly my darlings, just as I do!

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