When parenting styles don’t match

Kathy Krugerbalance, love, motherhood18 Comments

I’m here (hiding behind my computer) proudly a ‘mean mum’.

I wear this badge as an honour, although at the markets on the weekend there was a mother who loudly (and I mean banshee-style) bailed out her poor 6-7 year old daughter – let me be clear, I’m not mean like that. (or like Cinderella’s mean stepmother, but sometimes I might look like her)!

I do have the bad habit of yin yang yelling (which means I balance any bailing-out with praise, as much as I can, only I know I shouldn’t be yelling, I’m sorry) but I would never embarrass my kids (or myself) in public like that.

Anyway, Emily from Have a Laugh on Me, wrote a post about being labeled a ‘mean mum’ because she glad-wrapped Friday’s uneaten meal for the kiddies to have Saturday night and sent them to bed ‘hungry’ (as if our kids know the real meaning).

I’d do the same (fortunately my kids are, for the most part, pretty good eaters).

I challenge my kids to do the right thing.

I have (fairly) high expectations of them.

I don’t let them off the hook.

I don’t want them to fail, but I also do, because I’ll be there to help them get through learning life’s lessons that we all need to learn.

I want them to be resilient.

I don’t want them to take the easy way out (ok occasionally, but not regularly).

I want them to see how sorry I am when I do yell, so they realize that they are loved despite the yelling, and so that they may learn empathy, even for ‘poor mean mum’ who shouldn’t have lost her temper, but is human after-all.

I believe that princesses live in castles in fairytales and as much as our daughter is a princess to her father (no surprises there) I want her to be able to live as a girl (and a woman) in this world.

On other hand, I know that four year olds need their mother’s cuddles and that these will encourage good behavior far more than cross words ever could.


So I’m a mean mum with a soft-spot.

Mr Yang is a walk-over, as far as our daughter is concerned, and a little too ‘tough on the boy’ as far as our son is concerned.  IMHO!! I guess I try to counter-balance.

I’d like to think of our parenting styles as yin-yang complimentary, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say we don’t argue about our differences.

I feel I’m forced into ‘mean mum’ persona by Mr Yang’s ‘soft-touch’ at least with our daughter. And with Little Yang, I have to soften the sterner edges of his father’s discipline.

I know that many parents won’t be totally on the same page with how they parent – we all grow up with different childhood experiences for a start  – and even the most committed shared approach can come unstuck in the heat of moments and under the weight of whining.

Perhaps it comes back to the whole idea of sticking to core principles and shared values, having a middle-ground that is rock-solid – as parents we are clear about standing firm together in the ‘middle trenches’ and then at the edges we differ (and sometimes disagree argue). I guess this is the closest we can get to ‘balanced parenting’ together – our measures of ‘meanness’ and ‘softness’ don’t have to be the same.

Of course that’s not going to stop me complaining that I wouldn’t have to be so ‘mean’ if someone else did the heavy lifting for a change!!


But in the words of a four year old ‘You mean Mum’ (my heart falls) followed (not long after) by ‘I lub you Mum’.

And from Miss Yin, normally closer and more affectionate with her father, a big hug when she comes to me for a special chat (because she usually seeks me out when she needs to talk about something and is upset).

Maybe mean-ness isn’t so bad after all.

Are you ‘mean’ or a ‘softie’ – and how do you balance out parenting with your partner?

Linking up with the lovely Grace for FYBF.


Kathy (PS – I’d love you to sign up below for my newsletter so you don’t miss my posts. And please share posts you like with friends.) X

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Kathy KrugerWhen parenting styles don’t match

18 Comments on “When parenting styles don’t match”

  1. Lydia C. Lee

    mean mum here. But I call it parenting….if you don’t tell kids what they do is wrong, they won’t know it is. If there are no consequences for bad actions, then one day they’ll get arrested, as they won’t know…and so it goes…

    1. Kathy Kruger

      Lydia – love your straight talk. I’m glad you and Linda commented as parents who’ve been through it – and my gut tells me mean isn’t so bad, even when it feels like it.

  2. Me

    I’m also a mean Mom but only because I don’t believe in giving children everything they say they want when they want it. I believe in discipline. A and I tend to take turns as to who is the mean parent – when I am off my meds and hormones out of whack, A is the calming ‘its OK’ parent whereas when I think he forgets that K is actually an adult now and he has to let the strings go, I tend to smooth things over.
    We made a decision when K was young that we would pretty much back each other up in front of her and then afterwards discuss it if we didn’t agree with what decision was made – and that worked well for us. We also learned to apologise to her if we made a wrong decision and sometimes would explain why we had made the decision and why we had changed the decision.
    Hopefully we have done the right thing – I guess we will soon find out as she takes on the big bad world in Chicago without having her safety net (us) close by !!
    Have the best day !
    Me xox

    1. Kathy Kruger

      I’m sure K is having a fabulous time and will be resilient and happy because of your parenting – and your only a skype call away when she needs her beautiful Mum.

  3. Emily @ Have A Laugh On Me

    This is lovely, I am a mean mum with soft heart too and like you I counter balance with my hubby. It’s such a juggling act but kids need boundaries, discipline and also positive reinforcement. It’s one of the toughest but most rewarding jobs ever! xx

  4. Caz @ Home Heart Haven

    Yes, another ‘mean’ but soft hearted mum here. I’m also a mama lioness when I think my boy need defending balanced with holding him to account when he needs it. Cuddles and quiet chats in bed at night make it so worthwhile. x

    1. Kathy Kruger

      Michelle I agree that kids get confused if we don’t have expectations of them – school and life put expectations on them so if we let them off the hook too much then they aren’t going to cope.

  5. EssentiallyJess

    Thankfully boatman and I are pretty much on the same wave length when it comes to parenting. Neither of us is meaner than the other, but we both will call each other out when we could have been gentler. We try to do the best team approach we can. 🙂

  6. Pinky Poinker

    When my kids arrived at the teenage years I really wished I’d been much meaner when I still had control. Kids work well with consistent, tough love. You’re doing the right thing 🙂

  7. Sarah Barrett

    It is so important to balance each others parenting. My husband and I take turns being mean and nice. We don’t plan it, it just happens with our mood and tiredness. He if is tired and more grouchy, then he is less tolerant of the children and yells more. It is my job to calm him down, to give him space to rest and manage the children. And when I’m moody he does the same for me. It is a shame that we both can’t be happy and nice at the same time, but at least we are never both angry and mean at the same time.

    1. Kathy Kruger

      Sounds like you really have each other’s backs. And I’m sure you have times when it is one big happy family – we can tend to focus on the other times and get the guilts, unfortunately.

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