I was pretty much a child when I had my son, which means I was totally hip to the newest and hottest trends. I was also a single mom for the first 6 years of his life so it was literally Mommi & Moo against the world. The first 6 years of his life set the foundation for our relationship. He was my best friend and I was his. He thought everything I did was cool and vice versa. And then he grew up…
From a very early age he had swag. He was the coolest and I’d like to think I encouraged this swaggy persona. We were 2 cool peas in a pod. We have always dressed alike, made up cool dances, taken coordinated photos, the works! I’ve always been the mom to take all the kids on fun activities and traveling excursions, know the latest lingo and dances, have all the kids over to the house, and slumber parties are always at our house. But at some point, I became “lame” in my son’s eyes.
I think I became “lame” over time with discipline, accountability and expectations of greatness. The time he wanted to spend together reduced, our conversations became surface, and my “fun” suggestions were no longer fun. Most children make mistakes and plenty of them. I think the fear of disappointment and discipline discourages children from being open.
One of my biggest struggles is balancing being my son’s friend and mom or as I like to call it, being a Cool Mom. We always hear mom’s say “I ain’t one of your little friends” but contrary to this saying, I actually want to be my child’s friend. I want to be so connected with my child that he feels comfortable coming to me with any and everything. So connected that he enjoys and desires our time together. But I also want to give him the guidance and accountability to be the greatest version of himself. Is that an oxymoron? Is the term Cool Mom even attainable?
On one hand you want to protect your child in every way. In order to protect them you have to be informed about the actives they engage in, the company they keep, and the things they want to explore. They are the only ones who can share that information. You want a relationship that fosters open, honest, and vulnerable communication. On the other hand, how are you able to effectively discipline and give the best guidance if you know their deepest darkest secrets? There are things that will thoroughly disappoint you. Kids are going to make bad decisions! And the best teacher is failure.
Cool Mom is not an oxymoron
That’s right, but you will not have 100% of both worlds. You have to be comfortable not knowing everything. This is obviously still a constant struggle for me, especially as my son gets older and encounters new temptations daily. Here are some things I’ve learned to be both cool and a mom along the way.
Communication is key!
Like any relationship, communication is key! I think this is even more important with children. It is our responsibility to teach our children and they learn by both example and communication. If you want an open relationship, you have to start communicating with your children at an early age. Be the example of the things you want them to share. Share your failures and mistakes. Ask questions! This will feel uncomfortable at first for both of you. Children are reluctant to tell you the things they think will disappoint you. It’s up to you to create a safe environment that is judgement free. Encourage provocative questions, because if they don’t learn from you, they learn from the world.
Believe me! If other kids their age are doing something, so is your child! Most moms think “not my baby”, but if your baby is in an environment with other children, they are going to be exposed to the things those kids are exposed to. If your child has access to the internet and/or social media, they are exposed to a lot more than you think. So, talk to them, help them to realize you will not embarrass, judge, or punish them for asking questions and communicating what’s going on in their minds. Teach them what’s appropriate and explain why something is inappropriate.
Now that you are communicating frequently and vulnerably, you need to set boundaries. Setting boundaries can be a struggle in itself. You have to also remember that your child IS A CHILD. Yes, you want a close relationship but your child should not be your confidant. Children are not morally, emotionally, or intellectually prepared to play that role. In order to foster an open and honest relationship you too have to be open and honest with the child but in terms that they can accept that will not cause anxiety for stress.
Trust but verify
I’m sorry to break it to you, but strict moms are not cool moms. There is no exact science to this. This is just what’s working for me but my child feels more connected to me when I display trust in him. You know your child better than anyone one else. If you have a somewhat responsible child, allow them access. If your child is not responsible, communicate with them about the reasons they are not afforded access. Put them on a trail basis. I’ve told my son “when you can show me that you are responsible with X, I will be willing to allow you to do Y”. I personally allowed my child to have a cell phone at the age of 10. I know, I know, some parents may think this is way too early to have a cellphone. But, I trusted my son with this responsibility.
And even as he gets older, we frequently discuss what is appropriate and inappropriate.I verify every step of the way! Even now at 13, there are blocks for certain websites, I monitor all internet activity, and there is a curfew for the phone. You have to verify. Check in and make sure that they are indeed responsible, and be ready to remove the privilege if they are taking the access for granted.
Have their kind of fun
If you want to be your child’s friend, you have to do the things they enjoy doing. I genuinely enjoy seeing my son happy and enjoying himself. So, if he wants me to play video games, I’m going to play video games and have fun doing it. What’s worked for us, is setting 5 hours a week, to do whatever it is that he wants to do. It actually makes you “cool” to be in tuned with the things they enjoy. Listen to the music they listen to, play the video games they play, watch the sports they watch, watch the television shows and movies they enjoy, use the lingo they use, etc. But you have to do these things authentically and enjoy the things that they enjoy.
I think my son would completely agree that I am indeed a “Cool Mom” but the struggle is REAL! I think it’s absolutely fine to balance being your child’s Mother and their friend as long as it’s a balance. So remember, communication is key, set boundaries, have their kind of fun, and trust but verify. They will not share everything, there are some things that are very personally and you wouldn’t want to share with anyone. Parenting is tough and there is no rule book. Every parent and child dynamic is different. But this is what’s working for us and how I remain a #CoolMom.
Hope you enjoyed reading about me and my son ❤️
Love, Mommi Mykal
p.s. here’s a little clip from our Mommi & Son wedding dance