“I can not go? You are the meanest mom ever! When you hear that exclamation, (along with the sound of a slamming door), do you clutch your heart with guilt? If this is the case, pay close attention to what I am going to say. According to a renowned, respected researcher, should you feel guilty about incidents like this, you’ve failed your child. According to the researcher, a successful mother is a Mean Mom. Now, wait a minute, you might object. He didn’t say that, did he?
The researcher, Abraham Maslow, introduced a theory in 1943 at a paper called A Theory of Human Motivation. He identified a hierarchy of human needs that have to be fulfilled, in sequential order, to reach full maturity, or what he named self-actualization. This theory has been accepted and adopted around the world and has earned him the name Father of Humanistic Psychology.
The hierarchy is composed of five levels. If we aren’t provided the critical needs of every level, we can’t progress effectively to the next one, thus interrupting the process of getting a fully mature adult.
Safety – security
Love, Affection -belonging
Self-esteem – confidence and value
Self-actualization – ability to find your passion
Wait, not one of these levels says to be a Mean Mom. Really, one does. Can you guess which one? If you guessed Safety, then you are correct. Let’s look at why. What’s security to a child? A child feels secure when certain that the adults counted on to keep them from harm will be there consistently and unfailingly, regardless of what the conditions.
As a child develops, safety is provided in different ways. For infants it is being warm, comfortable and attended to. For toddlers, it’s protection as they learn to explore their world. For pre-schoolers, it means to start to understand boundaries as they learn social skills.
School-age children feel secure when assured that house will be a non-changing constant in the face of many new adventures as they separate themselves for the first time. Teen-agers feel safe when they know that whatever personalities they attempt on won’t fool their parents, and that their parents will keep them safe from experiences they think that they are ready for, but aren’t.
When the boundaries are being analyzed, each and every time without fail. Testing the bounds is their way of checking to determine if the safety net is still in place. Every time you back down, the bounds will be tested again. Being a Mean Mom requires staying consistent, even if you are the only parent on the block who is. Being a Mean Mom provides the safety and security your kids need to progress to maturity.
How will you know if you’re successful? Your children will inform you. When my son was 3 years old, a friend asked why he loves his mom. His response was, “Because she feeds me good food.” When he was in junior high school, a friend asked him to do something against house rules. The friend’s mother overheard him reply, “No way, man. You can’t get away with anything with my mother.”
When, as a teenager, he asked to go out with a new friend, I asked what the buddy’s curfew was. His response was that the friend did not have a curfew. What came out of his mouth next was my affirmation that I was a prosperous mean mom. He said, “I guess his mom doesn’t care about him.” As a mother, that was one of the most gorgeous things I’ve ever heard. So, yes, according to Maslow, a successful mother is a Mean Mom. But it’s not easy. Have you got what it takes?
The writer, Maureen LoBue, M.Ed., has united both personal and professional experience to create Mean Mom’s Club: The Mother’s Rule Book. The purpose is to offer a common sense, ready to use reference for busy mothers who need to know how to be in control of any given situation right now. The seven rules set out in the book prepare mothers to deal with situations at different ages for different children, using their own parenting style. They help you to understand why your kids are doing what they do and help you to plan ahead to find the best way to handle it when they do.