Basically, I’m an uncool mom. I’ve been told it many times by both my children, and I’m proud of it. I do things like (Horrors!) sometimes wear workout clothes from the 80’s; drive an often trashed out minivan (“Mom, pleeease don’t pull up by the school’s front door when you let me out!”); sing while driving that minivan (“Stop, you’re embarrassing me!”); lock out the TV so that I decide when it’s watched (No Way!!); require my children to: do a few chores (What a concept!!); pay for their “wants” with their own money, earned through an allowance and jobs (totally uncool!); lose allowance dollars when they leave their bath towel on the floor, don’t carry their plate off the table, leave lights on, forget to do their daily chore, fight with their sister or disobey Mom and Dad (No Fair!!). The list of uncool things I do goes on and on…
If you live your life trying hard to be your child’s best friend and never make them upset, you’re in trouble, and even more, so is your child (although I look forward to the day my children are happy, responsible adults and hopefully then might consider me a friend). But a child will never be truly happy and responsible if their parent is constantly worried about what the child thinks of them, constantly second guessing themselves, not following through on things they say they’ll do, and basically letting the child have and do whatever he/she wants. It may give you a few minutes of peace by saying yes to everything your child wants, but in the long run, it’s crippling your child from gaining real-world coping skills, not to mention squashing your own needs as your life centers around the child. Remember, as a smart, caring parent of a growing child, you are not trying to win a popularity contest, you are trying to parent. I hope this website will give parents the encouragement to “be tough” when necessary and start being the one in charge, instead of the child being in charge. No Veruca Salts or Augustus Gloops allowed!!
That being said, I am not so strict that I don’t let my kids have any freedom. I am always looking for ways in which they can safely and sensibly have independence, which some day I know they will realize was very cool, especially in the “helicopter” times we are living in. I’m so sick of the helicopter parent epidemic. It’s so widespread, it truly confounds me. I’m reading about and hearing about this behavior from all over the country, not just in one area, but it’s as if they all went to the same parenting school—Helicopter U. Parents who complete homework for their kids. Who always take their kids’ lunches to them at elementary school when they forget. Who never let their child walk home from school even if they live two blocks away. Who fight their child’s teacher every time the child gets in trouble in class. Who sue the school district because their child gets kicked off a high school sports team for blatantly disobeying the rules, like getting drunk or posting racy internet photos. Parents who are in constant, micromanagement contact with their children via cell phone to the point that the kids never have to make decisions on their own. Who show up on college campuses to argue about grades with their child’s professor.
I don’t get it. Many of today’s parents (at least parents of kids who are teens and older) were raised by Greatest Generation parents, parents who let us play outside all day until supper time, parents who had better things to do than micromanage our homework and drill us past midnight to make sure we passed a test, and they raised kids who turned out just fine. Do a lot of today’s parents not like the way they turned out, and are doing everything the opposite? Has the threat of child predators freaked everyone out so much that they’ve gone into this uber-protective mode that seeps into every aspect of their life? When I heard recently from a friend who works in downtown Dallas that parents are now accompanying their children on job interviews and calling to ask about benefits, I knew our society has hit a new low. I want to be a voice crying in the wilderness that says, “Stop it already!” Again, because it cripples children from gaining valuable coping skills and self-esteem that they need for the large part of life when their parents won’t be around.
I guess that stance makes me uncool also to a large amount of parents!
And so the name Uncool Mom fits pretty well for my blog. But I think that “uncool mom” is more a state of mind than a person. Anyone that feels the same way can be an uncool mom, even if they’re not a parent. So jump on board– this minivan has lots of room! (just please pardon the Taco Bell cups, grocery coupons, ballet costumes, tennis shoes, old newspapers…)