If you thought, "you're so mean" is the worst thing your child could say to you, think again. Being labeled a mean mom or dad sometimes just indicates you're doing something right.
In a world where kids are facing tough challenges - from educational expectations to peer pressure to Internet bullying - sometimes parenting requires making the unpopular decisions. Sure, you might not be the coolest parent on the block, but your kids will be better for your "cruelty" later.
Let him fail
It's a funny thing about consequences; they're the best teachers. As a parent, your natural instinct is to protect your child from life's "bad stuff," including the natural consequences of their actions. Letting your child experience the setbacks that come from poor decisions - like going hungry for a few hours when she forgets her lunch or receiving a lower grade because he repeatedly forgot his assignment at home - is part of life, and it's more effective in teaching responsibility than your words ever will be.
Make her do her homework
Sure, lending a helping hand on a science fair project or offering some help on that calculus assignment are just part of rearing a young student. But don't beat yourself up for not reviewing your child's latest essay on symbolism in "Moby Dick." According to The Atlantic, research suggests that heavy parental involvement in academics does not lead to better scores on standardized tests. Let your kids handle their homework; chances are, you had to.
Set a curfew - and stick with it
Inevitably, your kids will have friends who don't have a curfew because, well, they're parents are "cool." But there's a lot of wisdom in giving your teen or preteen the structure that comes with a set curfew. HealthyChildren.org recommends curfews because they help "keep your child healthy, productive and safe." The site also recommends discussing the curfew time with your child so you can come to a mutual and reasonable understanding.
Monitor his Internet use
If your child was spending the majority of his time in one place, chances are you'd want to know a little more about it. Think about this: According to Pew Research, 92 percent of teens (ages 13 to 17) go online daily and nearly a quarter report they're online "almost constantly." Monitoring their Internet use isn't just your right as a parent, it's your responsibility.
Stop paying her
If you're used to shelling out an allowance in exchange for help around the house, stop it! According to Ron Lieber, author of "The Opposite of Spoiled," paying your kids to do household chores will teach them that when they have enough money, they can stop pulling their weight around the house.
Instead, separate allowance from chores. Allowance helps kids practice fiscal responsibility; chores help them learn there's no free ride in life. If your kid won't work, take away a privilege or two.
Nix the cookies
Are you the parent who is always ready with a plate of warm chocolate chips after school or always good for a slice of apple pie after dinner? While you might have a sweet tooth yourself or just really love indulging your kids, giving them all that sugar isn't doing them any favors.
According to The Washington Post, American kids consume two to three times the amount of sugar recommended in federal dietary guidelines - and often with terrible health consequences. Save the sweets for a special occasion.
Take away the phone
Smartphones are a modern technology wonder, and they help you keep tabs on your kid at all hours of the day or night. But that gadget could also be doing your child a big disservice. According to The Huffington Post, smartphone usage can contribute to weight gain, social isolation, social comparison and depression. Not to mention they can encourage risky behaviors, like texting and driving, explicit sexting and cyberbullying.
Keeping tabs on your kids' phone usage doesn't make you a mean parent - it makes you a responsible one.
Discovering the "right way" to parent is never easy, but there's always help. WebSafety is a child mobile app for parents that helps them monitor kids' phone and tablet usage - so you can be a "meaner" parent than ever.
WebSafety alerts parents with real-time notifications when signs of bullying, inappropriate online behavior, or pornography is found on your child's mobile devices. Parents can even track curfews and set specific curfew times to their children's devices. To learn more, visit WebSafety and get up-to-date on all things happening in your child's life behind the screen.