Remember that article that was floating around FB (and CBS Evening News) a few weeks ago? The one about French parenting? The article is called “Why French Parents Are Superior” (puke) and the main jist of it is this: French parents teach/educate their children from an early age that THEY are the parents and authority figures in their little people’s lives. They establish this early on and as a result, have less issues with crazy toddlers than their American counterparts. (This is my summation.)
This article sparked something inside me that I just had to write about. You see, my best friend and I call ourselves “Mean Mommies”. In fact, she’s much “meaner” than I am and we giggle incessantly about it. I can only hope to one day be as “mean” as her.
Let me explain myself: I personally think that American secular culture has infiltrated the family and is ruining it in a lot of ways. I see some things around me that I feel are ridiculous and indulgent ways to raise kiddos. And you know that’s all fine and dandy if you are ok with a nation of bratty, self-entitled adults. Wait a second…
I believe a few foundational things as a parent:
-My husband and I are in charge. Period. We get the final say, we are the boss, no discussion, no negotiation. Why? Because you are a tiny little child who has lived on the Earth for a limited amount of time. Your knowledge and understanding of the world is limited. And most importantly, because God holds me/us accountable for you until you reach a certain age. God expects me to be your advocate and has placed me in a position of authority over you. The end.
-Mommy and Daddy and our relationship trumps our relationship with you. You are a treasured, welcomed, beloved part of us. But our relationship comes first. So when we talk, you don’t interrupt us. You’ll get a turn too, but not until we get a turn first. We get time alone-i.e. without you. We have conversations you are not invited into. We will not be manipulated or played off of one another. We sleep without you by the way. Because we are nicer when we get good sleep and you are a sleeping acrobat doing Cirque du Soleil tours all night long.
-Listen to me now and understand me later. You can ask questions of me in a respectful way. I enjoy many of your “why’s” and I believe I owe you an answer. However, this goes back to #1, we’re the boss the end. The answer you receive is it. There will come a time in your life when you/we can chat and you can conjecture all you want, but this is not it. Again, see #1.
-You will be parented in an age-appropriate manner. Dear two-year old, again, see #1.
This plays itself out in a lot of ways that many parents argue is “mean” or too hard on kids. But in a relationship where children realize that they are deeply loved and cherished, where they are seen and known and celebrated, these guidelines for life are actually beautiful.
Flesh this out in real life and it could look like all sorts of things: Child wants a blue cup, not a yellow one. See rule #1. That seems mean huh? They should get to discuss the issue and come to a mutual agreement? Ok. Next time you are outside and a car is racing up the street. Your child begins to drift outside of the boundary you’ve set. But because you’ve allowed them to discuss your decisions with you and disrespect the authority you have over them, your “no” falls on deaf ears.
I know that’s an extreme example. Speaking as a Mom who has given her children way too many choices that they were too young to handle, I can tell you that kids will take the leway you give them every time. They are kids, they don’t have discernment.
I don’t let my kids sleep with me. An 11-month old child (and even younger than this in my opinion) understands the word “no” and should hear it, often. By the way, “no” is a beautiful word. It’s an important and powerful word. It’s a word we could all use better and more frequently.
It is not ok or funny for babies to have bad table manners (I speak from experience there too. Meaning my first born was awful.). I make my little ones sit at the table with us even though they are done with their dinner. I don’t rush into their rooms at the first cry. I decide when my kids will be potty trained, not them (though that means I also can decipher whether they are ready or not). I decide what time they go to bed, not them. I decide whether they take a nap or not. I will so leave my cart full of groceries in the middle of the store if my child begins to throw a temper tantrum. I don’t allow toys in my bedroom.
I adore my kids. They are beautiful and awe-inspiring, they teach me wonderful things about life and love every day. They are cherished gifts and welcomed parts of our family and will be celebrated and loved by us for as long as we have breath. But….
I am a MEAN MOMMY. And I’m American. So take that Frenchies.