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8 Times My Kids Called My Bluff And Totally Lost

Photograph by Twenty20

From Tiger Moms to Helicopter Moms, it seems there’s a name for every kind of mom. Sometimes those names are flattering, but usually they’re not. Me, I’m a self-proclaimed hard-ass mom. What does that mean? It means I’m not playing around and my kids know it.

When I say something I mean it and when I give them a warning, they know I’m not going back on my word. And when they want to insist they know better than I do, despite being only 6 or 9 years old, they usually find out the hard way that I had some idea what I was talking about.

How do they know? Well, because they always call my bluff. When I say, “This is the last time I’m going to say this,” or when they insist they don’t need a winter coat, a pee break, or something to eat, and they still dig their heels in, I let them. I always keep their safety and health in mind, but my kids seem to love learning the hard way. Calling Mom's bluff is never a good idea. Sadly, that doesn’t mean they don’t continue to do it.

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So if you think you’re the only parent whose kids don’t believe you’ll follow through, you’re not. Laugh at my kid’s expense. Here are all the times they called my bluff—and lost. Every. Single. Time.

Sleep Training

Sleep training is one of those parenting milestones you think happens once and then it’s over. Me, I found sleep training is a never-ending process. So when my son turned six and started waking up because his “blanket just wasn’t right,” I taught him how to fix his blanket. And I also taught him how to read a clock. Unless there was a genuine emergency, we don’t need to chat until 7 a.m. Even if his blanket just isn’t right.

The Great Winter Jacket Debate

My daughter is six and loves to go outside in a tank top and shorts even if it’s about to rain. I used to fight with her about coats or sneak one into the car knowing she’d need it later. And then one day she dug her heels in and entered full on coat boycott, so I let her. By day’s end, she had me turning the heat on in the car and was begging for a jacket. That was the last time she wouldn’t wear a coat when I asked.

Dinner Sucks

I know I can’t be the only mom who feels like she’s cooking for the crankiest food critics in town. I’m no gourmet chef, but I spend time and energy making healthy fresh food for my kids. When my son started to complain about dinner or make faces with new foods, I got tired of it. The next time he said, “I don’t like this,” I took it away and told him dinner was over. He lived through going to sleep hungry and never gain complained about what he was being served again.

I told him if he continued we were going to leave mid-meal. He continued. We left. Now he knows I mean it when I say, “This is the last time...”

I Don’t Have To Pee

I’ve tried every tactic to get my kids to use the restroom before we’re pulling out of the driveway or sitting in gridlock on the freeway. Sadly nothing seems to work and they always only have to go when we are nowhere near a bathroom. My daughter is the biggest culprit of the pee protest so I recently called her bluff knowing we were getting on a freeway during rush hour. We live in L.A. so freeway traffic is no joke and neither was the look on her face when she had to hold it until we got off the freeway.

This Is The Last Time I’m Going To Ask

We parents are notorious for saying, “This is the last time I’m going to ask,” and then we ask a dozen more times. I want my kids to know I’m serious when I’m serious so my son was recently being unruly in a restaurant. I told him if he continued we were going to leave mid-meal. He continued. We left. Now he knows I mean it when I say, “This is the last time...”

The Tipping Point

My husband and I have very few rules and expectations of our kids. In fact we tell them they really only have to do well in school and be nice people. But the one thing they can’t do is get in trouble in school. So when my son recently got in trouble at school, we came down hard. He said losing TV for a month was a lot easier than hearing us say we were disappointed in him. I hope he remembers that if he ever decides to test the boundaries at school.

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Dinner For One

My daughter has a hot temper and can use unkind words in the heat of the moment. I don’t want to give her attention for using those words, but I also don’t want to ignore the issue. So I told her if she used mean words again, she’d eat dinner in her room by herself. Interestingly enough, after she had pasta alone in her room, her word choice got much nicer. That was the point, obviously!

It’s Not Fair

My older son always complains that he wants things to be equal with his younger sister. The truth is he gets a lot more privileges than she does because he’s older. So when he continually complained about things not being fair, I told him I was going to make things perfectly equal between the two which meant him watching less TV, getting less treats, and going to bed earlier. After one day of equality, he was begging to go back to the old less equal way. I had a good time watching that one go down!

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