There are a few things as a parent I’m sure of: 1) I love my children beyond all measure, 2) I would do anything to keep them safe and 3) many days my children do not like me.
I am what many would call a strict parent. My husband and I are sticklers for certain house rules like a consistent bedtime, trying all foods a few times before deciding you don’t like it, cleaning up after yourself and having good manners. When rules are broken, we employ time outs or take away favorite toys. We’ve walked out of parties or stores when tantrums have ensued and we don’t give in to whining.
I don’t do these things to be mean, and many days I know my life would be easier if I just agreed to more TV time or picked up the Legos myself (both would certainly save me a lot of time!). But my husband and I subscribe to being unpopular parents because we want our kids to have boundaries, to be appreciative and ultimately to be independent from us (though some nights when I am in their good graces, snuggling them tight I wonder if it would be so bad if they wanted to live at home with me forever).
In the midst of a recent disagreement with my daughter she said “You’re mean and I just don’t like you.” Hard to hear and definitely made me take pause to wonder if being the “strict” parents is a mistake. Would she really grow up not liking me, mad about the lost hours of her childhood spent cleaning up her toys? Then I read 5 Reasons Modern Parenting is in Crisis, which describes the potential problems with being afraid of your children. I felt somewhat vindicated in my approach and while I know being called mean won’t be the worst thing my daughter says to me I do hope she grows up to be respectful and responsible and maybe just maybe likes me a little.