You don’t have to be a cool mom. How freeing is that statement? I think that somewhere in the midst of childrearing we forget that our goal is not to be our kid’s best friend, or to be cool.
My mom was cool. However, I would not have said that when I was an adolescent. I specifically remember being mortified when she dropped me off at school in our minivan with wooden paneling on the side that I was sure everyone noticed. She also sent me to school with a reusable lunchbox when all the cool kids had brown paper bags. I remember hiding my lunchbox while walking into the cafeteria because I knew everyone was looking at it.
She also had rules. I had to be home for dinner, I wasn’t allowed to watch Married with Children, or The Simpsons, and if I talked back (which I did a lot), I was sent to my room. She was strong in her convictions, and while I knew she loved me, I knew she wasn’t going to change her rules just because I thought she should. She didn’t bend when the other parents did. She had to say no a lot, probably more than she said yes. If she would have said yes, I would probably be in a world of trouble today. She often protected me from myself. Thanks, Mom.
This “aha” Moment Brought Relief on a Long Parenting Day
I had an “aha” moment the other day. After celebrating 20 years of marriage with my husband (can I get an amen?), I realized I have lived with him longer than I was under my parents’ roof. This led me to the freeing truth that our four kids, God willing, will be living with their spouses much longer than they will be living with me. In the grand scheme of things, if they live until they’re 100, less than ¼ of their life will be with me. This was particularly exciting to me after a long and exhausting day of parenting teenagers.
Even more so, this caused me to recognize that my parenting is formative and important and needs to prepare these kids for what is ahead of them. My goal shouldn’t be being cool.
My kids span from ages 13 to 17. I am in the depth of adolescence and teenage life. It’s a super fun and hard time to be a parent. The ebb and flow of emotion in my house is great.
I constantly pray for discernment as I give out yeses or nos throughout my day. But as I have grown, I’ve learned more than ever that my goal is not to be the cool mom. With my mom, I realize that all of the things she did actually were cool because she had a bigger goal in mind when raising me. It wasn’t about her fitting in or being cool, which are both temporary goals. She had an long-term, selfless perspective and it was about what was best for me in the long-run.
This Is the Kind of Mom I Aspire to Be
So, now that I have my own four kids, what kind of a mom do I aspire to be?
A faithful and present mom. One who is there when they need me to be, but not a mom who will always rescue them. That’s probably the cool thing to do, but that’s not me. I want my kids to learn how to handle something and problem-solve without me there as their crutch.
This morning, I said goodbye as my three boys left for camp. My youngest likes his comforts and isn’t a fan of being away from home. He can be paralyzed by his anxiety. But I know and trust that experiences like camp will help in forming him to stand on his own two feet. I know that it’s good for him that I’m not there. I know that with these boys, my goal is to raise strong men and husbands, not men who cling to me. So, I kissed him hard and let him go.
I don’t want to be the cool mom. I want to be a faithful and present mom.
I want them to know that I have a life outside of them. Sounds selfish, right? It’s not really. God has given them a specific role and calling in this world, and while my husband and I will raise them up to find it, they have to embrace and live it themselves. They can see that modeled in us as we try to live out our callings and they watch—whether it includes them or not. I want them to see that I have dreams too, be it inside or outside of the home.
So, in what ways am I not cool? Many, but here are two.
Not Cool Rule 1: Strict Phone Guidelines
You guys, I have serious phone guidelines. I’m the person you can use as an example when your kid says, “Nobody else has these rules.” You can let them read this and see how strict I am. Definitely not cool. And sometimes it’s energizing to find other moms who aren’t cool either. I can be that person for you. If you feel alone in your frustration or wonder if “everyone else has a phone”…take comfort, my dear! I lead the way in the, “Mom, you’re so strict about my phone,” movement. I have a love-hate relationship with my kids having devices. Of course I am grateful that I can get a hold of them when I need them, but I hate how much they are on them. I hate how much I am on mine!
Our kids don’t get data on their phone until freshman year of high school. Yes, you read that clearly. I deprive our kids of fitting in until they are about 14. And I’m telling you, I love this. They can still text me while they are at school on WiFi, but they can’t stare at YouTube on car drives. It’s the best balance we have found and it works in our home. It’s definitely not cool, my kids don’t like it, and “everybody has data,” but that’s okay because being a cool mom isn’t my goal.
Not Cool Rule 2: Serious Social Media Restrictions
Social Media. Enough said. I often think of what a nightmare I would have been if I would have had it as an adolescent. I would have been all about selfies. And filters. And I would have loved the “UR GORG” comments. As an adult, I also have a love-hate relationship with it.
We allow Instagram for better or worse once they are in high school. But we said no Snapchat as long as your under our roof. Is it because there is specifically something wrong with Snapchat? No. It’s because I don’t need my kids to have another reason to look down instead of up. I figure they have the rest of their lives to be on these platforms.
I believe they are smart and wise, and could manage it, but we have chosen to let them wait and handle it when they pay their own bill and their brains are more formed. I know, it’s not cool. At all. I’ve heard that a lot, but I’m okay with it. I figure someday they may understand our reasoning behind it. I want them to figure out who they are outside of their devices.
No judgement here when it comes to the ins and outs of guidelines. I don’t know if I am going overboard with my rules or if they are good boundaries to have in place. And I don’t judge those who have different ones than me. Like I said, my kids will have ¾ of their lives out from under my roof to make their own decisions, but while in this house, they are on our training ground.
Take some time to think about what kind of mom you want to be. What does “cool” mean to you? Consider these four things:
1. Try to keep long-term formation in mind, rather than short term. What’s the purpose behind your rules?
2. Stick to your convictions! What’s important to your family? Don’t waiver because other people might.
3. Don’t lose sight of you. What’s important to you? Make time to take care of yourself and pursue the things you love. Kids need to see that their parents are people too.
4. Pray. Stay on your knees, ladies. In the end, there are no formulas for great kids. Every day is new and God’s mercies are new every morning. Wear out those knees covering your babies in prayer. That’s the coolest thing you can do.
My biggest advice for being a cool mom is to pray your head off. After all of the strategies and ways that we try to be good parents, I have found that consistently and intentionally surrendering our kids’ lives to God in prayer is what works. I don’t always see answers, but most importantly I feel the nearness of my Father and the assurance that He is completing a good work in them.
Whether I’m cool or not.
This Grit and Grace Life: When Is Your Teen out of Control and What Do You Do? With Dr. Zoe Shaw – 032!