The Choice to be Unpopular

Remember Jr. High? No? Yeah, I tried to block it out too. But from what I recall, pretty much the whole goal was to be popular. I wish I could say it got better from there, you know, once we grow up. But you and I both know, the pressure is still there.  Except now it comes from more than just your friends. Suddenly there is pressure to be popular with your children.

Growing up, I knew my parents were strict. When other kids had curfews of midnight, mine was at ten. When other kids could have boys in their room, I wasn’t allowed. When other kids could watch whatever they wanted on TV and at the movies, I wasn’t allowed to even watch MTV. And I swore I wouldn’t be like that. I swore, I would be the cool mom.

And then I had kids. And suddenly my parents didn’t seem near strict enough. My kids can only watch a handful of TV shows. We barely even do movies. And boys? My goodness, my girls won’t date until they are at least twenty-one. I mean I can’t believe my parents let us out of the house at all.

In all seriousness, I have become OK with being unpopular. In fact, I am troubled by parents who make parenting decisions based on being “popular” with their children. I am not here to be my kid’s best friend. I am here to be their parent. To set boundaries, make rules and enforce them, and hope that someday the framework I have set for them allows them to make good choices of their own accord.

I know I might not always be my kid’s favorite person. I may not even be popular with other parents. But someday when my kids have kids, I think like me, they will realize that when it comes to parenting, being popular isn’t the goal. And I hope, like me, they will love and appreciate the way I parented more than they ever thought possible.


  1. I love this Jill!! I feel the same way. I have crazy fun with my kids, but when it comes to their well-being I’ll risk being un-popular.

    My husband and I were talking about this issue in a different context the other day. Do we want out kids to be popular? I was “popular” in High School, and I worked my butt off in Jr. High to get that way. Unfortunately, I had some experiences and made choices that I do NOT want my kids to be exposed to.

    I will be perfectly happy for them to have a small group of good friends and to avoid the Popular business, but I just don’t know if that can happen? Kinda scary.
    .-= Real Life Sarah´s last blog ..Adventures in Missions, by guest blogger Katie Rowland =-.

  2. I am the queen of unpopular. Try being the nerd that was in the online business twelve years ago and knows every single thing that kids can get into and then some. Add in a soon to be middle school kid who “is the only person in the ENTIRE WORLD” who doesn’t play world of warcraft or have a facebook page. Yeah, it makes him mad. But that is a-okay with me…one less horror story for the news!

  3. my 13 year old daughter told me last week how much she loves me and wants to be BFF’s. I told her that is awesome…but not for awhile. Right now my job is to be mom and do what I’m called to do…and what’s right – that will totally not make me BFF material!

    She said, “I get that….but you still are the coolest mom, and I want to be just like you when I grow up!”

    Not bad from a teenager!
    .-= lisa aka thebeadgirl´s last blog ..Feature Friday…on a Saturday! =-.

  4. AMen, sounds like you and I were raised the same way. My dad was known as the strictest father in town.

    Now I understand it. NOw I”m turning into him and I’m ok w/ that.
    .-= alyssa´s last blog ..Our Morning Routine =-.

  5. You are a wonderful mom, Jill and I’m sure it’s because of some of the ‘unpopular’ decisions. I’m sure your kids will say the same things about you guys as you say about your parents. I’m sure it will be hard to hang in there until that day that they ‘get it’… but it will happen!
    .-= Jen @ BigBinder´s last blog ..Update, please! =-.

  6. My parents were pretty strict when I was growing up. I remember hating it at times and thinking I’d never be like them. Alas, now I have two girls and my mom says I am far stricter than she ever was… which is true. And just like my mom said: “They’ll thank me later!” :)
    .-= Sarah´s last blog ..A Jane Austen giveaway! =-.

  7. Hey I was wondering where you got a picture of my husband for this post? Seriusly we are way “uncool”…no facebook for our 12 year old and she doesn’t even know her password to her own e-mail…but somehow we are still cool to her. You got to balance it with fun things (Which I am sure you do). Just being there at school goes a long way but it can go too far like my mom used to come to pick me up from school dances and then *gasp* start dancing with my friends…but I think now I am totally her…I am totally that mom running out on the dance floor but rather then do the apple picker to Will Smith I’m doing the Cabbage Patch to Miley.

  8. Good for you! I was a really good kid, so I think my parents have it easy. But the more I see that goes on out there, and the more I see how quickly kids are growing up, the more it terrifies me to have children!! I live in LI where the mother’s dress like their teenage daughters and act like more of a “friend” than a parent…not me…I’ll be big and bad mom all the way (I hope! lol)

  9. Well stated! I couldn’t agree more.
    It’s so hard to be around children who lack
    true parents. I feel sad for them.

  10. I totally agree and am an “unpopular” mom too. Unfortunately, there needs to be more moms like us in today’s world. Spend a day walking around your local mom and I promise you will find some kids that are being raised by “popular” moms. These are also the same kids who are unsupervised (since when is it ok to leave a 9 year old at the mall by herself?!?), dress like hoochies, and often times have no respect for others. If being unpopular means that I will raise good, respectful children, then so be it.

  11. I love it!!! And you can go back a generation, cause your grandma and grandpa B. were my strict parents and I came to see how much that spelled “love”

  12. My parents were strict, too – but I’m so glad! Okay. Now I’m glad. I hated it back then. But really, was I missing out by not watching The Simpsons? Um, no.

    Love this post!
    .-= Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect´s last blog ..Last chance for chili =-.

  13. Well-written!!! I remember my parents telling me that, if my friends questioned why I wasn’t going to do something, I was free to blame it on them (my parents). That was a lifesaver – I could shift the blame to my “ridiculously strict” parents and not have to stand up to it myself. My parents absolutely did not care about my opinion or that of my friends, or even THEIR parents, for certain situations (e.g. curfew, dress code). The LAW was the LAW! My mother put the fear of God in me early on; I rarely did anything I wasn’t supposed to do out of sheer terror that she would find out.

    Kids really need structure. They need to know that, no matter how hard they push against us as parents, we will stand firm. They truly do receive that as love, deep down.

    And my husband says our daughter (who is currently one year old) cannot date until she’s married. :-)
    .-= Damsel´s last blog ..On how we came to be an Army family =-.

  14. In today’s society, the parents want to be “friends” with their children, and expect the teachers to be the parents. How messed up it that? My daughter is 10 and has already asked for a cell phone and Facebook page. All her friends have both. This is at 10! It is tough being a parent in this day and age but I refuse to be persuaded by what society says is OK for our young children to have and be exposed to.
    Thanks for your post. It’s nice to know I’m not alone in this. :-)

  15. Valerie says:

    I was also blind to how my mom was actually doing the right thing as I was growing up, not really just torturing me for fun…til I had kids of my own.

    I appreciate her more and more as I try and find my way through this parenting circus.

    And being a friend is such a prob w/parents today! I’m glad you (and I) aren’t two of them. :)

  16. Amen to all that. I just linked ya.

  17. Amen sister! My mother was very strict. Kids want to grow up so fast now. It is freaking me out that my 2nd grader is already asking about a cell phone, Facebook page, and getting her ears pierced. GAH!

  18. I’ll add my Amen to all the others. I know my child won’t like all (or even most) of our decisions. Oh well. My job isn’t to be her friend; it’s to be her parent.

    And she’s not allowed to date until she’s 30 (at least that’s what Hubby says!).
    .-= Heather @ Not a DIY Life´s last blog ..Mamavation Week #12 =-.

  19. I was at a friend’s house this weekend and she said, “But I just want them [her kids] to like me.” All I could think was “why?” I want my kids to respect me and to love me and that means they WON’T always like me. If there are times they don’t like me then I must be doing something right. That is just the way it goes.
    .-= Jennifer´s last blog ..A day to remember =-.

  20. Exactly! Our kids need role models, they already have friends :)

    Way to go, Mama!

  21. Great post and a reminder for those ready to buckle under the pressure! My kids are only 4 and 2 so I haven’t struggled too much yet, but I know the day will come and I hope we’ll be ready to choose right over ‘rock on!

  22. It’s nice to see that there are other “unpopular” parents out there! I grew up with pretty strict parents too and said the same things that you did. And now I have to eat my words :). We’re super conservative on what we let our kids see/hear too and the struggle for me – as my kids are getting older – is who’s house they can hang out with. What we’ve decided to do is make our house the fun/cool place to hang out. We’re in the process of putting up a big fort in our backyard and we already have a trampoline. I try to always have good snacks on hand. I want me kids to want to hang out here – where I know what they’re doing. I’m hoping that if we make it fun to be here now and change the fun stuff as they get older- they’ll want to bring their friends here when they’re in high school. It may be a pipe dream, but I’m willing to take that risk.

  23. This is just what I needed to hear this morning. I’m afraid I wasn’t at all popular with my oldest daughter this morning, you can read about why on my post today. But it’s nice to have that encouragment from other Moms because sometimes it’s just plain hard to be un-popular!
    Came here from Musing’s blog today!
    .-= O Mom´s last blog .. =-.

  24. Isn’t it funny how your perspective changes once you have kids (or at the very least, become more mature)?

    My mom was like that and while I didn’t get it then, I totally get it now. I had quite the attitude in high school against what I thought were ridiculous rules and she told me “I love you enough to let you hate me.” Makes me tear up just thinking about it.

    Parents should be parents first, and only then, their friend. :)
    .-= Jackie´s last blog ..The Best Ever Muffins =-.

  25. The desire to be liked, avoid confrontation and solve all the problems is the reason why so many kids are uber bratty and disrespectful.

    Just like Jakie above, I tell my DS all the time I don’t care if he likes me, but he has to respect me.
    .-= Melanie @ Mel, A Dramatic Mommy´s last blog ..My First Library Card: A Proud Mama Moment =-.

  26. I’m not here to be my son’s best friend. I’m here to protect him and raise him to be a gentleman and if that makes me uncool well then so be it.

    I got married at 23. And thinking of my kid getting married that young makes me dizzy because that’s still a BABY! (Granted, I was insanely mature with a good head on my shoulders, OBVS, but still, besides the point.)

    I’m with you. Unpopular FTW!
    .-= samantha jo campen´s last blog ..From the brink =-.

  27. I grew up an Air Force brat turned Corporate brat of a single Father (and sometimes a step-mom). To say that I grew up in a strict home is, well, an understatement, but I have to say it ultimately paid off and in more ways than one.

    I’ve noticed that so far I’m the only Dad to comment (I think), which is fascinating to me. I hope perhaps my experience, testimony, and perspective will be of value to both Moms and Dads alike.

    The first thing I remember about the strictness was that I always hated being raised as a “little soldier.” It has lead to some personality conflicts with authority figures now as an adult (and especially in college) but ultimately provided me with a deep appreciation for routine and understanding how/why boundaries are put in place.

    The second thing I would add is it created in me a rebellious and audacious desire to “prove myself” when I went to college. This lead to many mistakes, poor judgement calls and decisions that I would take back in a heartbeat if I could, but I also mastered the art of learning from them. I didn’t spend much time on the mistakes; I learned from them, vowed not to repeat them, and moved on with life.Looking back, I can see the wisdom of growing up in a strict home where decision-making (vis-a-vis responsibility) was an integral piece of how I was raised. That wisdom (and my Father cutting the cord and allowing me to fail) allowed me the freedom to make decisions on my own, make mistakes (and there were many!) and process them and learn from them. As I grew into adulthood, beyond college and into marriage and child-bearing/rearing, this gave me the ultimate confidence in my ability to make decisions and take care of myself and my family.

    The last thing I would add is simply that even though it sucked growing up in a strict home, and my father was definitely NOT concerned about being my friend, he accomplished two very important things; he prepared me for adulthood by the time I was 18 (not 30) and he earned (demanded really) my respect.

    If I accomplish that with my three kids, I will consider my job well done. Anything else is unacceptable.

    Blessed be,

    Dads who change diapers change the world.

  28. I agree completely! I’m sure I won’t be the most popular parent either, but I know it’s the right thing!
    .-= Erin @ Closing Time´s last blog ..It’s a Special Day =-.

  29. This was good for me to read. Thank you for sharing. I need affirmation like that. My little ones are still little and still, I feel the need for them to like me. Thanks for reminding me that isn’t what parenting is all about.
    .-= Jane Anne´s last blog ..Educate, educate, educate =-.

  30. I completely agree… We’re having a big issue with my son wanting to go to friend’s houses because his parents let them do things that we won’t let him do over here… Ugh. Stress.

  31. This proverbial rubber will meet the road when your kids, especially any daughters, get to around 4th and 5th grade and you realize there IS a contingency of kids at the school who are all cliqued up. Their moms buy them a certain brand of clothes, rent out buses and limos for big group parties for their kids………and the list goes on.

    You realize you will have to firmly instill in your kids that it is OK to not to TRY and be popular and to desperately seek to be in “that” group.

  32. Looking back, I feel like my mom was stricter than most parents, but sometimes not nearly strict enough! I remember getting busted for trying to go to an R-rated movie when I was probably 14. The other girl’s parents were going to buy the tickets. Wrong on so many levels! I’m glad my mom was the one not letting me go, and not the one buying the tickets for underage kids. I definitely love and appreciate my mom even more at this stage in my life for being a parent and not my friend.

    My husband and I are in total agreement on this. I’m sure we will be unpopular with our son and some parents at some point (or several). But, I’m ok with that.
    .-= Jennifer Y.´s last blog ..There is No Such Thing as Minor Surgery =-.

  33. Great post! Having a large family pretty much automatically excludes us from the popular parent category, but we make it even worse by setting actual standards of behavior for our children. The horror!
    .-= nicole´s last blog ..Friday Faves March 19 =-.

  34. I just discovered your blog today and I am in love! Reading your 100 things post I could relate to so many of them.

    My kids are still young (2 & 1) but I am well on my way to being an unpopular parent and proud of it.
    .-= Suzanne´s last blog ..Picasso Pictures =-.

  35. A lot of parents do think I’m crazy, because I have certain things I’m strict about, and certain things I’m totally not.

    But I do still want to be the “cool” parent. You know, the one who’s not afraid to say “the laundry can wait” and play a game. The one who says “Sure, we can put paper down and fingerpaint over the whole kitchen!” (on the paper!!). The one who says, “Blow off school to go launch rockets? Yeah!” That cool mom. Who lets kids explore, create, have fun.

    But NOT the “cool” mom who is more friend than parent. I think those kids grow up desperately seeking an authority figure and if nothing else…it will be the police. Not the way you want your kids to turn out!
    .-= Kate´s last blog ..Average Grocery Spending and Ways to Save on Real Food =-.

  36. Found this by way of Jo-Lynne. I have to agree, I love to have fun with my kids but there is a time to be the parent and enforce the rules. I would rather my kids think me un-popluar now and realize later what I did for them. Thanks for the post!

  37. Clearly this theme is resonating with other moms. Fabulous breakdown of an important issue. I always told my students, “You have lots of friends and don’t need another. I’m here to be your TEACHER.” I’ll have that quote ready to go when my kids get old enough to compare me to other moms and say in my face, “But you’re soooo meeeeeeaaaaaan!”

  38. this was so great to read. I have 3 small ones too (2 girls, 3 & 4, and a tiny 7 month old boy).
    I now look back at my parents and think they were too soft, too. Sometimes the things they let us watch or do, NO WAY!!

    I pray for creativity. I pray that the Lord will give me wisdom in moments when i am clueless and grace when it’s needed. I once heard a mom say, “I have broad shoulders. I don’t need any more friends”. That has stuck with me. I want my kids to form bonds with friends that will last a lifetime and I want them to respect and honor me for life as well.

    i appreciate your perspective and love knowing that there are other moms out there who strive to raise children who are loving, kind, and respectful. And let’s not forget, cool! :)

  39. We’ve been having lots of parenting discussions amongst friends it seems lately! And it reminded me of something my parents said. They set pretty strict rules (which weren’t really a big deal to me, but they were to my brother!), but they always said that we could “blame them” for anything. If there was something that we couldn’t do we could just say “my parents won’t let me” and let our “friends” think they were uncool. They didn’t care.
    Now, I think this sort of back fired on them with my brother, but it worked for me mostly!

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