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Three Cheers for the “Meanest Mom”

The courageous choice of one mom gives us confidence to also be strong with our teens.
By Barbara Rainey

Teenagers are fond of labeling people—both those they admire and those they don't. In their emotional declarations, their parents usually are the recipients of only negative descriptors such as, "uncool, mean, unfair, so strict," and others I'm not hip enough to know.

But when you are the recipient of the moniker, "meanest mom" or something similar, then you can know you are probably doing a great job parenting. Jane Hambleton discovered that a few years ago. 

After finding alcohol in her son's car she decided to sell the car and share her 19-year-old son's misdeeds with everyone by placing an ad in the local newspaper. Her ad and the story it created made its way to the Associated Press.

The ad read:

OLDS 1999 Intrigue for sale. Totally uncool parents who obviously don't love teenage son, selling his car. Only driven for three weeks before snoopy mom who needs to get a life found booze under front seat … Call: meanest mom on the planet.

The 48-year-old mom said she fielded more than 70 calls from emergency room technicians, nurses, school counselors, and others who all wanted to congratulate her. "It's overwhelming the number of calls I've gotten from people saying, 'Thank you, it's nice to see a responsible parent.' So far there are no calls from anyone saying, 'You are really strict, lady.'"

The only critic was her son, who she said was "very, very unhappy" with the ad and claimed the alcohol was left by a passenger. Jane said she believed her son but decided mercy wasn't the best policy in this case. She said she set the rules when she bought him the car: no alcohol and always keep it locked.

As soon as I read this I became a fan of Jane's. Parents of teens are so beleaguered and weary that when we read of a mom who clearly had the upper hand, who was not manipulated by her son, who stuck to her rules, we are encouraged. Her choices give us courage to also be strong with our teens.

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  When we read of a mom who had the upper hand and who stuck to her rules, we’re encouraged.

So to all you moms of teens, "be strong and courageous" as God said to Joshua and to us. If Jane can do it so can you!

From another mom who was called mean by her own children (who are now adults benefiting from not getting away with breaking the rules), I say three cheers for the "meanest mom on the planet." I think Jane should get "Mother of the Year"!


Copyright © 2008 by FamilyLife. All rights reserved. 

Meet the Author: Barbara Rainey

Barbara Rainey is a wife, mother of six adult children (plus three sons-in-law and two daughters-in-law), and "Mimi" to nineteen grandchildren.

After graduating from the University of Arkansas with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history, Barbara joined the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ in 1971. She and her husband, Dennis, whom she married in 1972, are co-founders of FamilyLife, a ministry of Cru that is headquartered in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Barbara has published articles on family-related topics and is the author of Thanksgiving: A Time to Remember and When Christmas Came.  She speaks at FamilyLife's Weekend to Remember® marriage conferences and is a frequent guest on FamilyLife Today®, a nationally syndicated, daily radio program.  She and Dennis are the coauthors of several books, including Growing a Spiritually Strong Family, Starting Your Marriage Right, Moments Together for Couples, The New Building Your Mate's Self-Esteem, Parenting Today's Adolescent, Rekindling the Romance, and Moments with You. She co-authored A Mother's Legacy with her daughter, Ashley Rainey Escue and joined Dennis and their children Rebecca and Samuel on the book So You're About To Be A Teenager. Barbara has also co-authored Barbara and Susan's Guide to the Empty Nest, with close friend Susan Yates, and A Symphony in the Dark, written with her daughter, Rebecca Rainey Mutz. And Barbara has written a series focusing on character traits for families, including the titles Growing Together in Gratitude, Growing Together in Courage, Growing Together in Forgiveness, and Growing Together in Truth.

Having faithfully served alongside Dennis for more than 30 years, both in ministry and at home, Barbara has recently launched a new endeavor called Ever Thine Home™.  This new line of products, including Christ centered ornaments for Christmas, teaching tools for Lent and Easter, and beautiful additions for your home for thanksgiving and year round makes it easy to express faith at home in a way that is both biblical and beautiful.  Her heart for Ever Thine Home is based on the familiar Old Testament instruction:

"And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates." (Deuteronomy 6:9, ESV)

You can read more about Barbara's work at

Find Barbara online on:
Twitter @BarbaraRainey and Facebook



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