As a Black woman who grew up in the South, I am accustomed to restrictions. Well-meaning authoritarian parenting is deeply entrenched in both Southern and Black culture. So as you would expect, I got a double dose of limitations growing up with the bonus of a community ready and willing to tell on you if you stepped out of line.
But in my home, my mother provided my brother and me with a good balance of freedom and restrictions. I didn’t understand the term “strict parent” until I started interacting with parents from other regions, cultures, and races.
I was shocked to find out there was more than one way to raise a child. And I was comforted to discover that my choice to “spare the rod” didn’t mean I was “spoiling my child” now that I’m a parent. I want my son to feel like he can come to me for anything — and not be afraid of me.
Since then, I’ve been looking out for the signs of “strict parenting” in myself and others, and I’ve a cheat sheet of signs you might be a strict mom.
1. You require “sir/ma’am” responses.
Let’s be real, having your children address you as sir/ma’am before they speak is kinda extra. The time you waste giving death glares can be used to answer the kid’s question. And no, it’s not about manners or the real world, I know a ton of folks who hate those expressions because they make them feel old. If you’re a stickler for “sirs” and “ma’ams,” chances are good you’ve got this “strict parent” thing on lock.
2. “Because I said so” is a common household phrase.
For an inquisitive child like me, this response only caused me to ask more questions. Of course, that makes strict adults get even madder. In other words, we all lose here. Don’t make your kid put themselves at further risk. Another variation of this is: “Are you challenging my authority?”
3. Your side-eye game can be seen across the room.
Southern moms have been known to throw the stank eye across the room to their children. It’s a wild card. Most of us would agree it’s just as much a warning as it is the first attack. I’ve seen moms so good at their side eye game that Western music starts playing in the background like they’re waiting for a shoot-out. If your children understand the significance of this nonverbal gesture, you are DEFINITELY strict.
4. You’ve used some variation of “Ain’t no way my child would get away with [insert action here].”
This one is on the same list as phrases like “I’m not [insert friend’s name here] parent.” If you use the expression, you are directly yet indirectly telling your child that the other child’s parent allows them to make questionable decisions. The above statement is the full-length version of the phrase. Other options include shaking your head and going “mmm hmmm!” or “Couldna been my child!”
Disclaimer: If you say this to a friend about something their child is doing, you just might get a hefty dose of aforementioned side-eye yourself.
5. Your kids run out of the room when you say “You better hope I don’t find it when I come in there.”
I have to admit, I have some questions about this. Is the problem that your child’s inability to find said lost item made you use some of your time to look? Is this as much of a threat as it sounds? And why do I have a feeling this same parent would ask a kid to come into their room to turn the light off? Either way, if you say this, you get another check.
6. Friends and relatives drop hints that you should lighten up.
Most parents try to mind their own business when it comes to child-rearing. But if others have taken a risk and told you that you should lighten up, you are probably a strict parent. This is doubly true if you noticed them cower fearfully while telling you this. If other parents are scared to give you feedback, triple check!
7. You relate a little too well to Darren Knight’s “Southern Momma” videos.
I’m guilty of laughing at these a bit too hard. Some of them are a bit over-the-top, but having grown up in Texas, I can relate to the videos more than I’d like to admit.
If you can only relate to a couple of these, chances are you’re not very strict. In fact, people probably look at you strangely while you let your kid run around at the store like a wild child. But if you can say “yes” to most of these, more likely than not you are the definition of “strict.” People may or may not run when they see you coming, and that’s a “mean mom” award on your mantel, isn’t it?
Relax, it’s all in good fun. There are all kinds of parents, and as long as your strictness isn’t unhealthy or abusive, you do you and I’ll do me. Just save your side-eye when you see my kids running around the store.
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