Parenting is hard because being a parent often results in your child thinking you’re a mean mom. Sometimes, even if you know you did the right thing, you’ll experience guilt because your child is upset. However, you’re not a mean mom when you’re just being a parent.

There will be times when you think you are too harsh or impatient. You might wonder if you fed them enough vegetables or gave them too much screentime. These thoughts of self-doubt are never-ending when you’re a parent because you want to do it all right.

Your child will sometimes add to the guilt by feeling upset about how you handled things. If you don’t give in to everything your child wants, they might think you’re mean. Their words will hurt, but rest assured that you’re not a mean mom.

Children often think their parent is mean when they don’t get their way all the time. If they are told ‘no’ or punished for misbehavior, the child likely won’t be happy about it. That’s okay because you’re just fulfilling your number one role as a parent.

Why Having and Enforcing Rules Isn’t Being Mean

When you put your foot down and enforce rules, you’re teaching your child more than either of you realize. You raise children who contribute positively to society. As they become adults, they’ll understand respecting others and being responsible.

Just because your child says you’re a mean mom doesn’t mean you’re a bad parent. Instead, it shows that you’re doing your job and expecting your child to be a good little human. You’re giving them the skills and knowledge they need to move through life.

Chances are, your kids will grow up to become adults who no longer think you were a mean mom. If they think you were mean, they’ll learn to appreciate the guidance you offered during their younger years. Raising kids is hard, but doing it right might give you adult children who thank you later.

Being mean implies being unkind or malicious, and you can easily see the difference between parenting and meanness. Of course, your child might not always recognize a difference at all, but you can reassure yourself. Children and parents view meanness differently, so don’t let your child’s words get to you.

mean mom

Sixteen Times Your Child Might Think You Are a Mean Mom

In all honesty, being the parent enforcing all the rules isn’t easy. A mean mom would take the easy way out instead of using their energy to enforce rules that they’ll get guilt-tripped about later.

1 – When Teenagers Want to Make Their Own Rules, They’ll Cast You as a Mean Mom

Teenagers might think you’re mean if you want to know who their friends are and where they’re going. They won’t always be happy about curfews, doing well in school, or dressing appropriately. However, in these instances, it’s your job to be the “bad guy” and put your foot down.

2 – Making Them Finish Homework Before Having Fun

Your kids might not want to finish their homework before going somewhere with friends. They might not want to do the work at all. Each time you enforce these expectations, your child might become unhappy and deem you a mean mom.

However, even if your child isn’t thrilled, think of all the things you’re teaching them when you make them do homework. You teach them about meeting deadlines, practicing, and working hard to accomplish goals. Plus, it’ll make tests and other school work easier, too.

3 – Assigning Chores Might Make Children See You as a Mean Mom

Kids also tend to think parents who implement chores are mean, but that’s not true either. In a kid’s mind, these things might seem mean, but again, you’re only teaching them about life. You’re teaching them to clean up their space and help the family unit, both qualities that will follow them throughout their life.

4 – Waking Them Up for School

Most kids would stay home from school if you let them, but letting them skip isn’t helping. Even still, your child might call you a mean mom for waking them up in the morning. You can wake them up with a back rub or gentle words, and they’ll still call you mean.

5 – Children Think You’re a Mean Mom When You Prioritize Sleep

Children often want to stay up late, even when they have school the next day. When you enforce bedtimes to ensure they get enough sleep, they might think you’re being mean. Children need sleep to grow and develop, plus they need the energy to learn. You’re not being mean when you give them a bedtime instead of letting them stay up until they can’t anymore.

6 – Making Them Eat Nutritious Food

Not all children enjoy healthy food, but they still need nutrients to grow and develop. Letting them eat sweets and junk food might make them think you’re being nice, but it’s not the right way to parent. If they think you’re mean for asking them to eat some nutritional foods, that’s okay because you’re just being a parent.

Kids might also think you’re a mean parent if you force them to eat home-cooked meals. They might prefer fast food, but you’re not mean if you don’t do it often.

7 – Teaching Them to Earn Things

Children might want you to give them everything, but it doesn’t teach them to work for things. When you make your child earn what they want, you’ll teach them to do their part. Plus, it teaches them to save up money for what they want to buy.

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8 – Asking Them to Clean Up After Themselves

Kids might think you’re a mean mom when you ask them to clean up after themselves. However, it’s essential to teach them to clean up their messes. If they think you’re mean for enforcing this rule, rest assured you’re just being a parent.

9 – You Don’t Let Them Hang Out with Sick Friends

Children don’t always understand how sickness spreads, and sometimes they might not care. Kids will risk getting sick to spend time with their friends, but it’s up to you to say no. You don’t want your child to get sick if you can avoid it.

10 – Not Letting Your Child Go Places When They’re Sick

When your child is sick, you will want to keep them home and away from others until they’re better. Your child might not enjoy this situation, but it’s part of being a parent. They might blame you for all of it, but remember that they don’t know the difference between being mean and being a parent yet.

11 – Encouraging Them to Take Care of Themselves

Some kids get frustrated when their parent asks them to take a bath or shower. Likewise, not all kids enjoy brushing their teeth. Enforcing these tasks makes you a good parent, even if your child views it differently.

12 – Showing Affection in Front of Their Friends

Kids reach an age where they don’t want you showing affection in front of their friends. They might not even want you to say “I love you”, but it’s okay if you do. Let your child think you’re a mean mom in this situation because you can never show them enough love.

13 – Not Letting Them Watch Inappropriate Movies or Shows

Your child might find inappropriate movies entertaining, but there’s a reason for the rating. Don’t be afraid to be called a mean mom for not letting your child watch something they shouldn’t.

14 – Passing on Playing with Them

While it’s nice to play with your kids, you don’t always have to. If you already do quite a bit with them and they throw a fit when you say ‘no’, ignore it. Don’t let their words get to you because kids need to hear no sometimes, especially regarding playing.

By not always playing with your kids, you teach them to be independent. It encourages individuality and creativity, and it teaches them to entertain themselves.

If you don’t want to join them on the swing set or have a water fight, you can pass on the experience. You want to teach your child that the world doesn’t revolve around them, or they’ll be in for quite a bit of disappointment later on in life. Plus, you deserve alone time sometimes, too.

15 – Not Sharing with Them Might Make You Feel Like a Mean Mom

Of course, you want to teach your child to share with others, but you also want to teach them about boundaries. If your child has a snack or meal, don’t feel bad for not sharing yours with them. Likewise, if you’re enjoying a rare treat, you can savor it without feeling guilty.

16 – Refusing to Cook Them a Separate Meal Makes You Seem Like a Mean Mom

If you provide dinner, you did your due diligence. You don’t have to make a different meal for your picky eater when they don’t want what you already made. Encourage kids to try what you made, pick out the parts they don’t like, and keep an open mind. Cooking separate meals will only encourage their pickiness.

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Final Thoughts on Realizing You’re Not a Mean Mom, Just a Parent

Most children think they have a mean mom sometimes, but they don’t know that you’re just being a parent. If your child sees another parent who doesn’t enforce rules and caters to their child, they’ll have a negative view of how being a pare should look. Even still, keep being the parent you are and don’t let your child’s criticism get to you.

Your techniques will pay off when you raise good people who contribute positively to society. Plus, your children will become adults who likely look back and thank you for not giving in to everything they wanted.