Funny…When I was a young mom I thought I was.
Apparently, singing along with Richard Marx to Right Here Waiting on the car radio did not help.
And yes, I’m the mom who replied, “Because I said so,” as my kids cried, “But why can’t we have ice cream?”
While Old-School isn’t my favorite label, it does a good job describing my parenting style. And truth be told, being a Cool Mom wasn’t at the top of my list.
Meet a Cool Mom
A few months ago, Mike and I celebrated our 45th wedding anniversary.
To mark the occasion, we booked reservations at a five-star restaurant. I slid into my LBD and off we went to enjoy a romantic dinner.
We order a nice bottle of wine. We gaze into each other’s eyes. We smile. We flirt.
One table over, we hear the persistent voice of a five-year-old girl yelling, “I want a pepperoni pizza!” over and over. We smile and try to edit the little voice right out of our heads.
But it doesn’t stop, and the little voice is rising – both in pitch and intensity.
Cool Mom is trying to explain why there are no pepperoni pizzas on the menu, but her daughter doesn’t want to listen to excuses.
The waiter is called over to tell the child why he can’t produce a pepperoni pizza. He can, he shouts over the screaming, get her a flatbread appetizer, but cannot produce a red sauce nor pepperoni.
The five-year-old is not happy. Cool Mom continues with more explanations. Cool Mom is not happy, and neither are we. Our anniversary dinner was certainly memorable, just not in the way we’d hoped. Why? Because the child was in the driver’s seat…too heavy a burden for her to carry.
As Mike and I wince our way through dinner, the little girl finally decides she’s had enough of the explanations. She stands up, points at her mother and shouts, “I want you to stop talking. Now!”
Fortunately for all of us, Cool Mom complies. For the next few heavenly minutes we have peace and quiet. Finally, someone with some sense.
Cool Moms want their kids to be happy. All. The. Time.
At some point in our recent past (attention Baby Boomers), we decided it was our responsibility to keep our kids in a constant state of happiness, even if it meant we had to relinquish our own.
We go into debt to make sure our kids have everything they want. We teach our children that happiness means getting everything you want, but we all know how that works out. We just want more.
We spend precious energy explaining our every decision, and too often bend over backwards to make sure our kids aren’t angry or unhappy.
Trying to keep your kids happy each and every moment is a waste of your valuable time. It’s unrealistic and unhealthy for both you and your kids. Teach them strategies to navigate through everyday challenges and disappointments so they can better manage their emotions and behaviors.
Cool Moms have a tough time saying NO.
Kids have strong opinions about what they like and what they don’t. They have the right to voice them. But too often we allow them to dictate and manipulate our every decision.
When we attempt to alleviate mommy guilt by overindulging our kids, we do them no favors. Recognize those times when “No” is the best answer. Your children will still love you. I promise.
Ask my kids if they liked me during their teen years – and yes, I wanted them to like me. I became a parent at 19, and was confident about two things: I had a right to expect respect, and I knew more than my kids. In spite of my imperfections, my kids have become parents I admire. And you know what? It’s a tougher job now than it was when I was in the trenches.
It bears repeating: Your kids don’t need a friend, they need a parent.
“My kids tell me everything!” say Cool Moms. They strive for an open and transparent relationship.
When kids feel comfortable talking to their parents about the complex maze of choices coming at them, that’s a good thing. Never pass up the opportunity for a teachable moment. Here’s the dilemma: Kids confide in you as long as you make no judgments. But being a parent involves doing just that. They’re not always going to like what you have to say, because most of the time you and your child will have very different opinions about what’s good for them.
As a parent, your job is to raise decent, responsible, independent adults. Remember, their chance of working for a Cool Boss some day is probably slim to none.
Your kids will eventually establish their own set of values and beliefs apart from yours, but until then, set boundaries and expectations. I’m not so sure you’ll ever reach peer-status once your kids are adults, either. Yes, you’ll hang out with them and enjoy grown-up conversations, but do you really want to hear the details of their sex lives? Do you want your parents to know the details of your sex life? Didn’t think so.
We all make mistakes.
I’ve made a million of them. Don’t be too hard on yourself. We try our best, and love unconditionally. Old-School or Cool Moms, we tuck them into bed at night with the same hopes: that they leave the world in better shape than they found it.