Mean Moms Rule Review and Giveaway

In her book Mean Moms Rule: Why Doing the Hard Stuff Now Creates Good Kids Later Denise Schipani writes about how parenting has changed between her mother’s generation and her own and how she attempts to do hard things as a parent even when it makes other parents call her mean.

In spite of the title, the book does not take the regrettable tone you sometimes here online or in real life of “I’m such a bad person!  I’m such a bad mom!  I’m such a mean mom!” when the person saying so doesn’t really think any such thing.  The title rather refers to the way that Schipani feels like other parents regard her when she raises her children differently than the norm.

The ideas Schipani presents aren’t actually that mean.  If you think it’s “mean” to say no to your children occasionally, refuse to let them grow up too fast, or to resist the urge to helicopter parent then I suppose the book would seem aptly named to you, but to me the ideas presented in the book were common sense.

The book is organized around ten “mean mom manifestos”:

  1. It’s not about you, it’s about them (that is, the kids are not your “project” or your chance to relive your childhood).
  2. Hang on to yourself (don’t let your whole life revolve around your kids even if they are your full-time job – it doesn’t do you or them any favors to think they are the center of the universe).
  3. Start as you mean to go on (think about how you want your kids to turn out and set your rules and priorities accordingly).
  4. Don’t follow the parenting pack (other parents like to be judgey about how you feed, diaper, and discipline your kids, but you need to do what works for you and your family goals – don’t do things just because the other parents are doing it).
  5. Take control (be the parent in the scenario).
  6. Say no. Smile. Don’t apologize. (you can say no without turning into a scrooge).
  7. Teach them life skills (prepare your kids for real life tasks like cleaning bathrooms, cooking, and doing laundry – even if you regularly outsource those things your kids may not always be able to).
  8. Slow it down (be careful about schedules, outfits, when you let them have new technology, etc – not to be a Luddite, but to be thoughtful).
  9. Fail your child, a little bit, every day (allow your child to fail so he can learn to grow).
  10. Prepare them for the world, not the world for them (keep the end game in mind).

I think Schipani is right about the changes in parenting culture – the tendency to compare ourselves to others is much easier now that we have the internet, and it can be difficult to resist the feeling that we need to keep up with what everyone else seems to be doing. Mean Moms Rule is a good reminder that we can be reasonable in our parenting.

The publisher has graciously offered a giveaway book for one A Spirited Mind reader.  If you’d like to win a copy of Mean Moms Rule, leave a comment and tell us about a way you don’t follow the “parenting pack.”  

The giveaway will be open through next Friday, April 20.  Good luck!


Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.  The publisher sent me a review copy of the book, but the opinions in the review are my own.

10 thoughts on “Mean Moms Rule Review and Giveaway

  1. This book and “Bringing Up Bebe” are both high on my reading list. Though I don’t have kids yet, I am very encouraged by the tone each of these books takes because I think I will fall squarely into the “mean/French” mom category. Though it’s more work up front, I think a disservice is done to kids who aren’t taught life skills and given expectations to live up to. Sooner or later we all find our way into the world, and many lessons are even harder learned as an adult than as a kid. (Not to mention that in the shorter term, it’s more pleasant to be around kids who are taught to be mannerly and self-entertaining to some degree. I know it sounds curmudgeonly, but it’s true.)

    It’s good to have a heads-up that there is pushback from others who don’t parent this way! Over the years, I’ve admired moms/parents who stuck to their parenting principles even when it wasn’t the norm. As an adult, I recognize that expectations/rules I didn’t like as a kid put me in better stead later (and isn’t that a big part of what parenting is supposed to be?).

  2. I have 2yr old twin boys and it’s so hard already! But when we got pregnant, I vowed I would NOT be their best friend. Really not even their friend at all until later in life as adults. If I have to be the mean mommy, to raise them right, so be it! They and the world hopefully, but most importantly, their future wives, will thank me!

  3. Welllll . . . I don’t honestly know how I have pulled out of the parenting pack. I’d like to say I have, I’d like to think I have, but I wonder if that would put me right back into the pack. If that makes sense.

    The #1 thing I’ve learned over these past 7 years is: I AM NOT ALWAYS RIGHT. I tend to champion causes (total ENFP) and it has been very easy for me to idealize what I think is “the best” will be the best for everyone. Or what someone else claims is “theist best” will be the best for me and my family. Not just the carry-through, but the actual IDEA of it. I’ve been tripped up many times by my own idealism.

    (This is something that I’ve been mulling over for weeks on end. Weeks. on. end.)

    Furthermore, the further into the parenting journey I get, I see the certain phases we all go through. I’ve seen my past-self reflected in others and recognize that portion of the journey. Insecurity in new mothers, unsure of what to do. The ga-ga newborn phase where I honestly felt like I had a new little husband. Feeling stressed and unsure of what I should do when my toddler starts hitting or biting . . . did I have a demon child? Trying to homogenize with the parenting tactics of mothers around me, honestly just trying to figure it all out, but also not wanting mess up (vulnerability?) in front of my fellow moms. Being harder on my firstborn, expecting him to “get it” because he seems so much bigger/more mature than the others, only to look back at pictures and see how little he really was. Etc.

    The culmination of all this, I think, is that . . . . hmmmmmm . . . . “hindsight is 20/20” as my mom always liked to say, and that, really, everyone is figuring out their own path. Comparing notes is vital. Seeking out a more experience mama for observation and fielding questions is key. And retaining humbleness, even in the excitement of a new discovery or finally finding a system that works. Keeping a humble attitude. Yes. I don’t know if I’m out of the woods, but that is what I’m working on.

    Sign me up.

  4. I’ve been making my son sort-of do chores since he was about 18 months old – much to the surprise of some family & friends. But he actually loves “helping” (even when he isn’t really much help), and it’s getting him in the habit. He started with emptying the silverware container in the dishwasher, and bringing the items to me to put into the drawer, and we’ve added small tasks as he’s able.

  5. Our four and two year old have very limited tv time- a half an hour a day, tops. We know this is counter-cultural, but they don’t 🙂 and have plenty of other things to do anyway! Looks like a great book!

  6. My kids are my friends from time to time, but they also are very aware of their place. My son loves to help wash the windows with a spray bottle of water and a towel. He does a terrible job, lol, but he loves to help out. If he makes a mess, he helps clean it up. He pours his own water and makes his own snacks. He’s also learned to be a gentle giant around his friends (he’s a head taller than all of them), and share accordingly by watching out for anyone smaller than he is. He’s a fierce protector of his 8 month old baby sister, and because of all of this, my three year old is the pride of my pack. I adore the little man he’s becoming, even if it takes a bit of meanness to get him there from time to time. Consistency and a great poker face all help.

  7. I’m not like the normal mom I see who has a schedule/routine for every day because my days are not alike. I am home some and work 10 hour days at the office other days. I’m trying to find a balance that works for us, but it is hard. 🙂

  8. I have one daughter, who is just turning two. I am still finding my way in this journey. I think I parent from the heart and do what feels right to me and what I think she needs at the time. I am not the norm in that none of my friends co-sleep or cloth diaper and I think they think I’m crazy for doing so…..I just love being a mom and will keep educating myself as I go. 🙂 Thanks for the chance to win a copy of the book.

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