Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Being a Mean Mommy

It's nice to be writing again after a summer away. Before you get any ideas about glamorous holidays abroad or anything, my summer away was more of figurative getaway (with a few, but not nearly enough, glorious weekends at the Jersey Shore). Mostly, I just unplugged a little. I cannot credit any sort of "I-think-summer-should-be-about-more-than-Facebook-status-updates" attitude. Truthfully, I just don't have a laptop, and blogging from the iPhone is a royal PIA. But anyway . . . as expected, a summer with my two girls provided many experiences to reflect upon.

I knew that giving birth to two girls would eventually lead to tense mother-daughter relations somewhere down the line. I think it is pretty much a given that estrogen-fueled battles of words and of wills will ensue at some point along the journey, most likely in the tween or teen years, or so I thought. I never really considered that I would find myself in power struggles with a five going-on-sixteen six-year old.

My first big parental veto occurred this summer in the form of saying "no" to a collection of TV shows from the increasingly (and somewhat alarmingly) precocious Disney Channel. At first, I found the shows to be harmless, even enjoyed them myself, truth be told. Standard tween fare involving an assortment of sassy girls and boys, with a variety of clever life situations to keep a five year old intrigued - a new baby sister, special magic powers, starring on your own dance show. But what I noticed after a while, was that my own Little Diva's attitude and communication choices were starting to feel like something straight out of the scripts of any one of these shows. My sweet girl was talking back more, getting pouty more, engaging in sassy play with her Barbies and/or Little People. I didn't really like where this was going.

I realized I was going to have to make the unpopular decision to pull the plug on what had become her TV lineup. I knew it was going to be tough, and understood that I should have been more vigilant from the start, thereby avoiding her exposure to these shows altogether, but what was done was done. This style of TV may be perfectly fine for other families, but a parent knows their child best, and in our case, it was not a good fit for her personality and tendencies toward imitation and repetition.

As a sidebar, I have since discovered a resource to help me navigate the tricky task of deciding what are and what are not acceptable media choices based on age. It is a website called Common Sense Media.  It breaks down the content of games, movies and TV shows, and makes age recommendations. Ultimately, it is up to me and Sweet Hubby as parents, to make the call, but it is very helpful to get other perspectives and know what your kids are going to see before they see it.

With little fanfare, I told Little Diva that we were going to take a break from these shows for a while. As an explanation, which she had of course "requested", I explained that sometimes the characters and ideas of the shows didn't seem to be good examples for her, and that sometimes watching shows like this might make little kids her age act in ways that were not good. She was really disappointed. We found some other programming that was more appropriate and she was appeased momentarily.

In the weeks that have ensued, there has been an almost constant barrage of pleas to "please, please, please watch just one show" but I have held firm. She takes it as an almost personal insult that I continue to say no. I see that this is only a mere glimpse into our future of our mother-daughter negotiations, but I am inwardly pleased at my resolve. I have come to realize that it is more satisfying to labor through the arguments, but stand my ground, than to relent to the pressures, and forsake my ideology.

I am not sure how some mommies get by, without ever having to be the "mean mommy", but I know they are out there. I have to accept that I will never be one of them and deal with the occasional dirty looks, and hours (weeks? months?) of silent treatment.

How about you? Ever had to be a "mean mommy" or are you and your little ones BFFs 24/7?


  1. The mommies who are not mean mommies are not role models and don't raise children to be responsible, respectable adults. I must be called "bad mommy" at least twice a day, every day. And I'm proud of it!

  2. I'm proud of you for standing strong! After our TV-less childhood, I know both the battle you endure, as well as the wonderful outcome that will result. Bella will thank you when she's 27!

  3. I am totally with you on these TV shows. I actually have some issues with some of the preschool programming out there. You're not mean, you're responsible. Your daughter will thank you later.


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