When they were babies it was so easy to please my children. Feed, change, feed again. Ahh, the bliss of meeting the obvious needs of another. They grew older and thought I was the most beautiful woman on the planet, the smartest, next to daddy of course, and hadn't realized yet that I really couldn't cook. To a little kid mean consisted of not letting them eat ice cream for dinner or candy for breakfast or play in the mud and track it through the house.
Then things get complicated as they start growing opinions that are not tempered by mine, and eyes that can see things I want to shield from them. My children's needs can quickly grow beyond what I can always meet. The definition of mean begins to alter to include the cool new clothes that I didn't buy or the party they didn't get to go to. Teenagers lose all sense of reality anyway. Moms and dads realize that we have leaching zombie children living amongst us and only so many years left to produce a viable contributor to society. Teens can make choices that completely change their lives forever if not kept in check by a mean mom and dad.
I hold fast to the balance of loving my children enough to be mean to them. One day, I pray that as they are being mean to their own children they will remember me being mean to them and be encouraged that its worth it.
Proverbs 13:24 A refusal to correct is a refusal to love; love your children by disciplining them.