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The Mean Screen Mom

Is your mom mean? I know mine was…

Your mom will not allow you to have a smartphone? She won’t let you play video games? She says no to social media too? What? She won’t even let you have an Instagram or Snapchat account?

It’s official: You have a Mean Screen Mom.

You are not alone, I know how you feel. My mom was mean too. In fact, we had the meanest mother in the whole world.

While all the other kids ate candy for breakfast, we had to have cereal, eggs, and toast. When others had a Pepsi and a Twinkie for lunch, we had to eat sandwiches. And you can guess our mother fixed us a dinner that was different from what other kids had, too.

Our mom insisted on knowing where we were at all times. You’d think we were convicts in a prison. She had to know who our friends were and what we were doing with them. She insisted that if we said we would be gone for an hour, we would be gone for an hour or less.

We were ashamed to admit it, but she had the nerve to break the Child Labor Laws by making us work. We had to wash the dishes, make the beds, learn to cook, vacuum the floor, do laundry, empty the trash and all sorts of cruel dirty jobs. I think she would lie awake at night thinking of more things for us to do.

Our dad was mean too. He always insisted on us telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. By the time we were teenagers, he could read our minds. It was like he knew what we were going to do before we did it. It wasn’t fair.

Our dad wouldn’t let our friends just honk the horn when they drove up, they had to come up to the door so he could meet them. How embarrassing. Oh, and while everyone else could date when they were 13,  We had to wait until we were 25 (well, maybe 16).

If smartphones were around back then, my parents would have said no for sure.

Because of my mean parents I missed out on lots of things other kids experienced. None of us have ever been caught shoplifting, vandalizing other’s property or ever arrested for any crime.

It was all their fault.

I vowed that when I grew up I wouldn’t be a mean mom. But now that I have kids of my own, I have become a mean mom too. 

Here are the reasons why:

  • I love you enough to let you take two hours to clean the bathroom because you need to learn how to finish a task.
  • I love you enough to make you play outside instead of playing video games even when all the other parents allow their teens to just play video games all night.
  • I love you enough to not let you take your laptop to your bedroom. I know that you will learn nothing from being tempted. 
  • I love you enough to know what you are doing online, who your friends are and who you are hanging out with. 
  • I love you enough to sit with you when you practice your piano, I know doing hard things together with someone will help you get over the hurdle. 
  • I love you enough not to give in to your meltdowns when you are begging for more screen time and make your favorite dinner when you had your (100th) meltdown in middle school over not having a smartphone.
  • I love you enough to say no to TikTok when all the other kids in the entire world have it.
  • I love you enough not to let you quit hard or boring things like music lessons or sports. Even if you don’t understand why now, you will later. 
  • I love you enough to fight for a porn-free home, to protect your innocence as long as I can because I know you will carry your childhood scars with you for the rest of your life.
  • Most of all, I love you enough to say no when I know you might hate me for it—even when you say: “Mom, you will never be my friend even when I’m older, you’re ruining my life forever, and I’ll never come visit you when you are in the nursing home.”

These are the most difficult battles of all. 

But despite these battles, I’m not going to let the screens win. 

I’m the meanest mom now so you will be victorious in the end.


Originally written by Bobbie Pingaro. Adapted by Melanie Hempe.