Wednesday, May 24, 2006

How to be mean

Better tell this story quickly or one might get the wrong impression. She doesnt look mean, does she?

The whole concept ties into Bobbie Pingaro's 1967 essay/poem entitled The Meanest Mother in the World and strikes at the heart of my parenting style.

When I was a child, did I really believe my mother was mean? No, but she implemented a lot of the tactics described in this essay and I am the better for it. So, when another mother-friend of mine regaled me with the story of how she made an executive decision based on *I'll bet Mrs. Jago wont let her children see that movie,* I knew I had learned well.

Obviously, the use of the word *mean* was an attention-getter. I sometimes joke with my own children about *meanness* being a positive trait in a mother. Take Kipling's poem Female of the Species, for example.

Some of my favorite parenting books are The Bible, Proverbs for Parenting, Withhold Not Correction by Bruce Ray, Grist from Adams' Mill by Jay Adams, Six Points for Raising Happy, Healthy Children by John Rosemond, and Shepherding a Child's Heart by Ted Tripp. My parents havent written a book, but if they had it would be on the list becasue they were and continue to be models of excellent parenting.

What parenting book has most influenced your style?


  1. Of course, I was only sad for about two seconds (okay, maybe about twenty is more like it) with regard to the "mean" bit. Even if I am a new reader, I just knew that didn't sound right, with your mother being so artistic and having raised such a gracious, honoring lady as yourself.

    You've mentioned some good books there. I've heard favorable things of John Rosemond before but have never read anything by him.

    One of my favorites is not actually a book but is a resource in DVD format I discovered a couple of years ago from Vision Forum: Raising Godly Children in an Ungodly World by Michael and Susan Bradrick. Its primary focus is on Scripture, Scripture, Scripture and planting it in your childrens' hearts but it also covers many other practical topics without falling into the traps of "this is God's way to do it" training materials.

    I am also a big fan of Dr. Leila Denmark of Forsyth County, GA, who was a great mentor to me in my early mothering days and who is now a dear friend. Though I don't agree with every jot and tittle (though I do most of it!), I highly recommend her book, "Every Child Should Have a Chance", a classic from a woman who is now 108 (I believe?) years old.

    Our nation is in desperate need of more "mean" mothers. When all the other *elementary-aged* kids got to watch shows like "Bewitched" and see movies like "Grease", "Saturday Night Fever" and "The Exorcist", my meanie of a mom said NO WAY and for that I am eternally grateful!

    Thanks for letting me ramble. You're so easy to talk to, Dana! :P

  2. Pleased to report, Ruthanne, that I have Dr Denmark's book, too, and agree with her on most things :)

  3. Oh, Dana, I love the picture. I'm eager for the stories too. You know, I can't think of a book off hand that really influenced me. I have appreciated having godly men and women around me who have modeled parenting to me.

    My husband and I are both in the "mean" category. But our boys know that we love them. I love to hear my sons pray and thank God for their father - even the grown one with a son of his own.

  4. Maybe "tough" (as in tough love) would be a better word than "mean."