Mark Consuelos is a strict parent: being friends ‘with my kids isn’t in the cards’

Mark Consuelos

Mark Consuelos and Kelly Ripa have been married for 19 years, and they have three kids together. They must be doing something correctly as a couple. As far as parenting goes, no one really knows how successful they are at it until the kids grow up. Kelly previously told Wendy Williams that she’s a strict parent. Of her daughter, Kelly said, “I don’t think she likes me, but I don’t care. I’m like, ‘I’m not your friend. I’m your mom.’ I don’t care who you are or what you do, if you’re a mom, you’re a mom.” Mark feels similiarly. He wrote an essay for Men’s Health in honor of Father’s Day. He talks about his own father’s former strictness, which has fallen away in favor of spoiling the grandkids. Isn’t that how it always works? Mark says he and Kelly keep the guard up at home:

For better or worse, you always end up sounding like your dad. You never think it’s going to happen–you’ll be different, you tell yourself–but when the time comes and you become a parent, it just happens.

You say things to your kids and you think, “Wow. I totally morphed into my father. How did that happen?”

The funny thing is, my kids don’t notice it. Why would they? My parents are grandparents now, and they’re totally different. My father spoils my kids, and they absolutely adore him for it.

When you’re a father, your main concern is whether your kids are being polite or doing well in school. When you’re constantly hoping they’re not out there getting murdered or getting caught up in drugs, you can really lose sight of the fun part of parenting. My parents trust that Kelly and I are taking care of all that, so they can just swoop in and have the fun.

For me, it’s hilarious. When my dad is doing his grandfather stuff, he’s so laid back and mellow. Once he’s gone, I look at my son and tell him, “That guy was like Pancho Villa and Saddam Hussein wrapped into one. That guy was a tyrant! He was so strict. You couldn’t get away with anything.”

These days, my dad and I are good friends. We talk all the time and have great conversations. I can’t afford to be like that with my kids at this point. Being friends with my kids just isn’t in the cards. I have to be like my dad was with me.

[From Men's Health]

Mark goes on to talk about how “ninety percent of success in this world is just showing up,” according to his own dad. He applies that to his family life and always shows up to his kids’ functions because “that’s what it means to become a better man.” I’d go even further and say that’s what it means to be a better person. Mark’s writing for a men’s magazine, so he’s not directly addressing women, but I agree with this essay. It’s so easy to try and be friends with your child, but there’s gotta be some parental perspective there too.

Mark Consuelos

Mark Consuelos

Photos courtesy of WENN

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37 Responses to “Mark Consuelos is a strict parent: being friends ‘with my kids isn’t in the cards’”

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  1. OSTONE says:

    My parents never tried to be friends with me growing up. Granted, we had a great relationship even though we went through our rough patch my teenage years, but I do have to thank them for making me a productive member of society. Now that I am grown and married, my parents ARE my best friends. They still worry about me and every once in a while offer unsolicited advice, but the dynamic has changed.

    • doofus says:

      I feel the exact same way.

      they weren’t TOO strict as I was the third child and the second girl but they were definitely NOT my “friend”…there was authority there, but I respected them and didn’t want to disappoint them with making bad decisions.

      now?…I LOVE spending time with them and yes, they are my friends and my GO-TO for any advice.

      sounds like Kelly and Mark are doing it right.

    • Sherry says:

      I was an only child and my parents were parents, not friends. Once I was a grown-up, they morphed into parent/friends, but always were parents first. I have had to say to my 18 year old on several occasions, “I am your mother, not your friend.” However, we are morphing into the parent/friend situation now and I am enjoying this phase of our relationship.

      I also think this is where people like Billy Ray and Tish Cyrus went wrong. They were more interested in being the friend than the parent. Justin Bieber’s father comes to mind in that regard as well as Dina Lohan.

      • get it together says:

        I think some parents can be “friends” with their teens if they have responsible teens who are mature for their age. I was always a straight-edge kid who got good grades and was a triple varsity athlete. My sister, on the other hand, was overall a good kid but occasionally had her rebellious moments (snuck out of the house to meet a boy, drank at her senior prom, etc). When my sister started her freshman year of college across the country, I started my junior year of high school. At that moment, my curfew went out the window and my mom became my “friend.” She said she trusted me because I had thus far only made good choices. She warned me that if my grades slipped or I became too wild then all my freedom would go away and she would go back to being “just mom” and not “friend.” Let me tell you those last 2 years of high school were so good for me! Because I had the freedom and the trust of my mom, I got to spread my wings a bit and I soon realized that I was making good choices because I wanted to, not because my parents enforced them. I could share anything with my mom and I felt that no matter what, she was there for me and would have my back. I know I wouldn’t have felt the same way if she was still a strict parent. When I went to college a couple years later, I felt prepared to be on my own and didn’t go wild because having freedom was nothing new. I hope to do the same with my kids, but again, I think it depends on the child.

  2. Jegede says:

    My mother always made it clear to me and my bros – “I’m not your friend”; “I’m not a cool mum”

    Thats how it was when growing up.
    The relationship changed when we hit 20-21 and evolves to this day.

    But both my parents were a guiding force and I hope I can be the same some day.

    • Kitten says:

      Exactly the same with my parents. In particular, my mother was know as *The Enforcer*. Yet she ALWAYS left the door open for me to talk to her. She was genuinely interested in my life, but never in a nosy or oppressive way. We were always very close (and still are) when I was growing up, but I knew she would be the first to metaphorically crack the whip if I disobeyed my parents.

      I have so much admiration for my parents because I think it must be incredibly difficult to strike the perfect balance when it comes to parenting.

    • Erinn says:

      It’s kind of weird once you notice the shift. My husband and I both had relatively ‘strict’ parents. We were both the oldest kids so we got a lot more crap than the siblings did. His dad also grew up in a really strict religious household – so he was a bit over the top about some stupid things.

      But now that we’re 25, even in the last year I’ve noticed a big shift. His mom will say stuff in front of us she’d have never said before, his dad was talking about watching trailer park boys and south park – which is hilarious if you knew his dad because he never was into that sort of thing before.

    • PhenomenalWoman says:

      I tell my 11 year old that all the time, especially when he’s starting to cross the line. I think I’m doing something right because he still climbs into bed to cuddle with me. We have time to be friends, right now I’m mom.

  3. Loopy says:

    But a healthy balance between the smiths/osbournes/kardashians and say the duggars/tom cruise etc

  4. Jen43 says:

    When your kids are little, parenting roles are pretty clear. You have to feed them, keep them healthy, etc. As they get older they want their independence. They are easily influenced by friends not of your choice. It becomes really difficult. I constantly think my 13 year old doesnt like me, and I find that disturbing and hurtful. I dont know how any parent could be ok with that. BTW, she is going on her first ‘date’ today after school. I am pleased that she actually asked my permission.

    • doofus says:

      I’ve heard many parents say “if your kid doesn’t like you, you’re doing something right”…notice, they don’t say “hate”…if your kid hates you, that’s a bit different.

      but I think that the fact she asked permission means she respects you as a parental figure. yeah, she may not “like” you, but she still wants your approval. that’s a good thing.

    • Esmom says:

      Jen43, I’m right there with you with two young teens who really don’t seem to like me much these days. I agree with what doofus is saying, I think your daughter definitely respects you and that’s huge. My kids are generally honest with me about the stuff they’re doing with their friends and I’d sorta taken it for granted, until I’ve found out lately how much their friends and classmates have been hiding from their parents. I’m glad — and you should be glad — they’re not completely shutting me out and that they feel accountable to me and my husband.

  5. Sixer says:

    Honestly? I don’t really think it’s about strict/not strict. I think it’s about consistency. If the framework is clear, whether it’s strict, average or liberal, and the kids know where they stand, things will usually go ok.

    Mr Sixer and I decided that we’d go with one basic rule: to try our hardest to be the type of people we’d like our kids to grow up to be. It kinda reverses the usual perspective from what we expect from our kids to what we expect from ourselves, but so far, it’s serving us pretty well. I may well not be a cool mum (!) but the Sixlets are pretty cool kids.

  6. blue marie says:

    I don’t think you’re supposed to be friends with your kids until later in life. My aunt tried to be her kids friends & it continuously bit her in the butt, they didn’t respect her. Whereas my mom was never my friend and I respect the hell out of her. We’re friends now but she always told me I didn’t need more friends, I needed someone to tell me no.

  7. HH says:

    Good for Mark and Kelly! I’ve just never understood the being friends with your kids mindset. Parents are friends serve very different roles in life. Yes, they’re both apart of your child’s support system, but they don’t have the same responsibilities.

  8. Dawn says:

    I am a single mother with a son and I knew I had to be sure he respected me by the teen years or it wouldn’t be good. I happy to say I did and at times he didn’t like me much but today we can laugh about things. We are meant to be parents first and that means saying no. When the kid is an adult there is time for friendship.

  9. LAK says:

    That blue dress is fabulous.

  10. Jessica says:

    I think something in between is the ideal. Growing up I had both (divorced parents). My father was my friend, but a completely ineffective parent, and I walked all over him. I never respected him. My mother was strict and never, ever crossed the line into being my friend. We never built a proper relationship, and I never felt it was safe to share anything with her, even benign things like minor friendship dramas or slight difficulties with school work could be cause for lectures and punishments. We barely speak these days because we’re forever stuck in the ‘strict parent/obedient child’ dynamic and that just becomes so dysfunctional after you hit about mid-teens.

    If I’d grown up with both parents being my friends I would have messed up a lot more than I did. If I’d grown up with two strict parents instead of minor depression and anxiety issues I think I would have had a total mental breakdown sometime in my teens.

    A parent who can hold enough authority to enforce boundaries while at the same time still being capable of empathy and compassion and understanding towards their children (even when they think their children’s issues are stupid or NBD) is perfect I think. Most of the time children need a parent to be a parent, but occasionally they also to be able to talk to you like a friend and just get some advice rather than orders and instructions.

    • Esmom says:

      “A parent who can hold enough authority to enforce boundaries while at the same time still being capable of empathy and compassion and understanding towards their children (even when they think their children’s issues are stupid or NBD) is perfect I think.”

      This is the ideal to strive for, I think, and to me it sounds like what Mark and Kelly are in fact doing. I absolutely think you can be strict about rules, boundaries and expectations but also compassionate and understanding when things get tough. And also supportive and happy when things go well! To me that’s the definition of really good parenting.

  11. Mimz says:

    Humm this got me thinking. My parent’s weren’t really my friends either, growing up, but I suppose my 2 older sisters had it worse than I did. They caught all the grounding, punishment, and rebellious outburts, and one unwanted pregnancy of twins (which are a blessing in our lives!) that really roughened things up at the house. My mom was always a little more lenient with us but strict, always using the whole “I don’t think your dad will like if you stay out late”, “ask your father” strategy to keep us in line.
    I’m the youngest so I am a bit luckier than my sisters, when my mom softened up I got away with a lot of things, but RESPECT is something that never goes away. I respect my parents even if I don’t agree with some of their rules, but you know what, their house has their own rules, it’s more than fair.
    I also could realize, while helping raising my twin nephews (they live with us – they are 15 now), that I also had gotten a lot from my parents strict ways, and with them I am also the “mean” auntie when I need to be and the cool aunt most of the time. But I don’t take crap. I can say NO, as opposed to my parents who are such loving/tolerant grandparents to them now. If I ever have kids I don’t know how it will be, but I am sure I will try to avoid the spoiled rotten trend parenting. I can give hugs and kisses and be very sweet but you better respect the rules and respect me. No patience for tantrums.

    So yeah I guess I agree with him. It’s much better to be friends with your parents later in life… Me and my mom now have a ball all the time. She’s amazing.

  12. Jenns says:

    My mother was someone who treated me as a best friend. Hindsight, it was not a good thing at all. It’s fine if you want to become friends in adulthood. But as a child, you need a parent.

  13. Suzanne says:

    Plenty of parents aren’t their children’s friend…but the children can manage to fail them miserably anyhow. Some children just defy…period. Peer groups make a major impact on your child…and if your child folds to peer pressure…no amount of parenting will matter. Some children come thru it fine…some learn from their mistakes and some just buck the system til they end up in major trouble. Unfortunately in this day and age…its a complete gamble. I don’t recommend single parenting. It’s a hard enough job with two adults rearing a child…never mind one who’s struggling on all fronts to stay afloat.

  14. Mom2two says:

    Well written essay Mark. That is one of the things my mother said to me as a kid, I am not your friend, I’m your mother. We can be friends someday but my job is to raise you right.
    And today, she is my best friend. I have two kids and I wholeheartedly agree with Mark here.

  15. Greek chic says:

    My mother was both to me, a friend and a parent.In my teens she was strict with my grades and we had rules, but she was also the person who I trusted the most and i was telling my problems.
    Now that I am almost 30, she is one of my best friends. We go to the gym together, for coffee etc.

    • Esmom says:

      I love it. My husband and I are not close with our parents for various reasons and I am always wondering if/hoping that my kids will want to spend time with me when they are older.

    • Kitten says:

      But you can be a confidant and not be a “friend”.
      (great, now I have the Golden Girls theme song stuck in my head)

      Friends are your peers, they’re not authority figures, and they’re relationship to you isn’t defined by one of mentorship and guidance. As a child, friends are not responsible for your existence, your health or your safety.

      I think that’s all that Mark is saying.

      I said in my comment above that growing up, I told my mom everything that was going on in my life. She was my adviser, my confidant, and she was so amazingly sage in all the advice she gave me. But at the end of the day, her priority as a mother was always to guide me, teach me, protect me and to keep me safe, often times to my embarrassment or irritation.

      To me, that’s the hallmark of a great parent.

  16. Emily says:

    I don’t know who this guy is, but it’s nice to see a male celebrity in a men’s magazine talking about parenting.

  17. WR says:

    Studies have found that lenient and strict parenting are bad for kids. Parents have to be somewhere in the middle. Be enough of a friend so that your kids will feel comfortable approaching you with their fears and problems. But make sure you set reasonable boundaries as well. Being too strict can make kids rebellious or submissive to the point they struggle to make decisions for themselves. Being too lenient prevents them from learning impulse control. Parents need to find a balance. I’m neither strict nor lenient and my kids are never in trouble at school and give me very little trouble at home.

  18. Nikki says:

    Everyone’s writing about parenting, but shallow me: Mark is SOOOOO hot! That smile! And the fact he’s a conscientious family man? Hotter still. As we approach Father’s Day, doesn’t seeing a guy great with kids give him extra attraction? i almost died when I saw a pic of Josh Dushamel with his little boy; extra hormone boost that Josh didn’t need! Best wishes for this couple: 19 years in Hollywood! Best wishes to all those parenting demanding little babies, active young kids, and ESPECIALLY parenting through the tough teen years!! It’s not easy…

  19. Isa says:

    I don’t think that being your kids friend has to equal submissive parenting. I want my kids to come to me to talk and I want to spend time with them and have fun. I know most teens go through a phase where they don’t want anything to do with their parents and I hope to avoid that. (Good luck with that, right?)
    Now that I’m an adult I have a lot of friends that I look up to and respect, most of mine from my teens ended up on drugs. My parents were strict and I shut them out and hid stuff from them. I hope to be a parent first and a friend second.

  20. Elfie says:

    Whether you’re permissive or strict is irrelevant, everybody has a different style according to their own personalities. What matters is that you are able to communicate effectively with your child, impart good values; work ethic, honesty, positivity etc, don’t tolerate negative behaviour and teach them the skills they need to respectfully present themselves and interact appropriately with others.

    Children learn how to behave from their parents, it doesn’t matter how you teach them as long as you do. The major problem is parents who have no clue that it is their duty to raise their children to be mature, empathetic, competent, responsible adults and even if you told them would have no ability to do so because they are not themselves. You can’t teach what you don’t know.

  21. NUTBALLS says:

    My parents didn’t try to be my friend and I knew who was in charge (not me!), but I never once doubted that they loved me or would be there for me whenever I needed them. We had the typical rough patch when I was a teenager, but going off to college and growing up changed that almost immediately.

    My kids are still adolescents, but others who are walking that path say that parents have to be able to adapt and let the relationship with their maturing children evolve. As they gain more independence, the parents have to let go more and more and that is so hard for some. It’ll be hard for me as a control-freak who wants to protect her kids from getting hurt. I hope I’ll have the courage to let them make their own mistakes and learn from those mistakes with the knowledge that I’ll be there to support them through it.

    • Who ARE these people? says:

      Aw, you’ll be fine because you’re thinking about it. Remember how important it is for them to mistakes in the earlier years when the consequences are less severe and they have your love and support. Our watchword was “tears now or tears later” and we tried to be comfortable with having “tears now.” So far so good, but Consuelos is right, it’s pretty much this constant low-grade awareness:

      “When you’re constantly hoping they’re not out there getting murdered or getting caught up in drugs, you can really lose sight of the fun part of parenting.”

      Another day alive, not on drugs, not drinking, not overly pierced/expanded, and reasonably happy and directed with their young lives: Are we setting the bar too low? : )

  22. Lucky Charm says:

    I always told my kids they already had plenty of friends, but only one mom. My job was to raise them well, teach them, guide them into adulthood and see that they become confident, respectful adults. Now that they are grown and on their own, we are great friends. Of course, I’m my grandson’s best buddy and my daughter just rolls her eyes at how different I am with him than I was with her, lol! Although I have had to use his full name a couple of times already…after all, I DO want him to be safe and toddlers have no fear or boundaries.