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Why You Need to Stop being the Nice Parent

  • Jim Daly Jim Daly is president and chief executive officer of Focus on the Family, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping families thrive.
  • 2016 Aug 26


You may call me crazy for saying this, but hang with me.

I think moms and dads should be mean.

Now, let me clarify right from the start that when I say “mean,” I’m absolutely not saying that parents should be abusive or hurtful in any way.

That said, I think a lot of parents are just too nice. They don’t expect anything from their children or allow them to feel discomfort in any way. There are no chores to do, no bedtimes to worry about, and no difficulties to learn how to overcome. Some parents obsess about giving their children a magical childhood.

But the “perfect” childhood requires parents to work around the clock to make sure the child’s every waking moment is wonderful. That’s not healthy, for parents or their children.

The fact is, “nice” parenting isn’t nice at all. Coddling children leaves them unprepared for life and unable to handle the rigors of adulthood.

Being a “mean” parent, on the other hand, is a gesture of love because it gives children what they need instead of always giving them what they want. Of course, “mean” parenting really isn’t mean, but that’s probably what your children will call you when you set healthy boundaries.

They’ll think you’re mean when you expect them to work around the house or to be responsible for their schoolwork. They’ll say you’re mean when you let them suffer the consequences of their own mistakes. You’ll be mean when you limit your children’s screen time or ruin their Friday night by grounding them for disrespectful behavior. Mean parents follow through with discipline, even when it’s difficult to see their child struggle.

The question is, can you stand firm when your children protest against your boundaries and call you mean? You will if you understand that your task is to raise an adult, not a child and remember that equipping your children for life is the nicest, most loving thing you can do.

Or maybe you have a tendency to back down when your children get upset over boundaries. If you’re having a little trouble being a “mean” parent, our radio program over the next couple of days is for you.

On “Raising Kids By Setting Boundaries,” we’ll be talking with author and speaker Joanne Kraft who has some great advice to help you have the courage to set good boundaries with your kids… even when they think you’re mean.

Listen on your local radio station, anytime online, or via our free, downloadable mobile phone app.


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Publication date: August 26, 2016

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