We recently had a pool party with a group of Emma’s homeschool co-op friends, and I’ve been told again that I’m a cool mom. I’m not a cool person. I’m kind of nerdy, actually. So how do I get this label?
It’s not merely that I do these things (although they help):
- make a monster pan of homemade mac-n-cheese and two giant chocolate chip cookies for a pool party
- let the kids make a crazy fort in the sunroom with every available blanket, bean bag, and pillow
- take Emma and a friend to an Ed Sheeran concert and crowd in with the rest of the fans
Being a cool mom is a much deeper issue than the money you spend, the time you sacrifice, and the quantities of chocolate and cheese that you buy. It’s a matter of the heart.
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Get Yourself Together
To be a cool mom, the motivation has to be about your child’s well-being not about yourself. If you want to be a cool mom to boost your ego, to be friends with your daughter’s friends, or to soothe the pain of aging, you will not be cool. You will either be desperate and annoying (trying too hard) or you will be lax and negligent (doing anything to make the teens happy).
A cool mom is a confident parent.
Being a cool mom is about protecting a child who is still a child while recognizing that this child is quickly maturing into a woman who needs to make choices about her life — solo. It’s about accepting the ways your child is different from you while knowing what your non-negotiables are. Being cool means that you don’t panic, you don’t stress. You are chill, as Emma says.
You are okay with your teen being furious at you when necessary, but you never abuse your authority with her and crush her spirit. There is such a fine line here, and many parents can’t find it because they are not emotionally healthy. They may be looking to their child for emotional strength, approval, or forgiveness for past mistakes.
Stop hovering. Let your child have privacy. Get your own hobbies and friends so you aren’t inordinately wrapped up in your child’s life.
Being the cool mom is about parenting your child not about your reputation. In fact, being the cool mom may land you some grief or raised eyebrows from other parents, but you know that your main goal is raising a child not pleasing the other moms.
Choose Your Battles
To be a good parent, there have to be lines in the sand — boundaries across which you will not allow your child to venture. But to be the cool mom, those lines need to be about the big stuff not about petty things.
For example, I let my daughter dye her hair crazy colors, but I will not say yes to a tattoo. Why? Hair dye is not permanent. She’s a kid, and there’s no risk involved in having wacky hair color. A tattoo is forever, and she’s a kid who is not equipped to make a choice like that. See how I used the same reasoning to come to a conclusion? A kid is supposed to do silly things and grow in maturity. This is the perfect time to experiment with crazy makeup and dyed hair because the stakes are very low.
I wish I had a dollar for every time a teen has said wistfully to Emma, “I wish my mom would let me dye my hair!” I just don’t see the big deal. But I suspect that their refusal is based more on their fear of what other adults would say than the actual issue of having blue, red, or green tresses.
Stop Parenting Out of Fear
It always amazes me that the people who are supposedly basing their lives on belief in a sovereign God are the most fearful when it comes to parenting. Yes, the world can be a scary place. But God is bigger than that!
Start trusting God to make up for the gaps in your parenting. Stop panicking over every potential accident, bad influence, or silly decision. We never make good choices based on fear or panic. Do you truly believe that God loves your child more than you do? Really?
Look into your gut. What is your root source of your parenting? Is it faith or fear?
You have to operate in faith to be a cool parent because, yes, there are all kinds of possible tragedies that can happen. But it’s also a tragedy to insulate your child to the point of stagnation.
Say Yes as Much as Possible
99% of parents truly desire to do a good job. But they are so afraid of messing up that they resort to no as the default answer to every sleepover invitation, every day trip opportunity, any questionable article of clothing.
I’m not saying cool moms don’t have standards. You must have standards or you become a negligent parent. But the point is that your boundary lines need to be loosened as your children grow up. If you are teaching them morals and decision making skills all along, you should be able to trust them in growing increments to make their own choices. Let them make a few bad decisions that have low stakes while they are under your protective care. That way you are there to talk about it later, help them sort through the emotional issues, and learn from the experience.
Change the default to “Why not?” and you will be closer to cool mom status.
Being Available to Talk About Anything
Being the cool mom is about having a close relationship with your child where you can talk about almost anything while you camouflage the shock/disgust/horror about whatever odd topic she has raised. You withhold judgement and hear her out fully before you share your own opinion.
Here’s a test. Choose something that makes you uncomfortable to discuss with your teen. For me that would be things like oral sex, gay marriage, bi-sexuality, trans-gendered relationships. Ick. That stuff is not fun to talk about! It’s awkward with a capital A. Does your child feel comfortable talking about those things with you? When I say talking, I mean truly sharing her opinions and questions not merely parroting your stance. And when she does bring those things up, do you listen or quickly cut off the conversation with a pat, black and white answer?
This is so difficult, but to be a cool mom, you have to zip your lips, guard your reactions, and let the conversation flow.
I’m not always a cool mom. I blow it regularly. And just to be fully transparent, I’m letting Emma read this post before I hit publish. I’m going to let her tell me where I still fall short. For some areas, she may be right. For others, it may be an issue of those lines in the sand that I can’t compromise on. But I will listen to her insights and take them to heart. Because at my core, I’m a cool mom.