By Candy Allen Circulation Manager My friend stared at me in open-mouthed shock. \u201cYou are SUCH a mean mom!\u201d I\u2019d just gotten through sharing how my then-preschool son had cried himself to sleep after I\u2019d refused to promise not to die. \u201cNo, I\u2019m not. I just won\u2019t promise him anything I can\u2019t deliver.\u201d It wasn\u2019t the last time I\u2019ve been called a mean mom. I\u2019ve been accused of being demanding, overly strict, expecting too much, and so on \u2014 by my friends, my kids, teachers, other parents, people without children \u2014 you name it. It\u2019s my job. I recently read an article about high levels of depression and overall dissatisfaction with life in general among young adults. The theory in the article was that these 20-somethings were facing disappointment and setbacks for the first time in their lives because their parents had so effectively shielded them throughout their formative years. It was pretty eye-opening. Maybe \u2014 just maybe \u2014 I\u2019ve been doing something right. Now, from the time my first child was born, I\u2019ve subscribed to the theory that whatever issues he\u2019s got are going to be blamed on his father and me. So I\u2019ve just made up how to be a parent as I go along because he\u2019s going to be screwed up anyway, so why not put my own spin on things? (You know all of us are screwed up somehow, admit it.) With that in mind, it\u2019s been pretty easy to brush off well-meaning advice that I\u2019m too mean or expect too much. Yes, I have high expectations and yes, sometimes my kids don\u2019t reach them. Yes, I do let them know. Praise is good, but constructive criticism has its place. Failure is important. Part of my job as mom is to let my son and daughter fail. To watch them fall down as they learn to walk, but also to watch them fall down as they try to master social interaction, climbing trees, telling jokes, making friends or handling projects. I decided early on in this whole parenting business that my role is to make myself obsolete. Not that I ever intend to walk away from my kids, but I want them to be able to walk away from me at some point and be happy, productive people. And I don\u2019t know how long I get to accomplish that \u2014 like I told my son years ago, \u201cMommy can\u2019t promise not to die. Nobody knows when you\u2019re going to die except God. And he doesn\u2019t tell.\u201d Naturally, I hope that by the time that happens, my kids are much older than I am now. But I can\u2019t wait until tomorrow to start letting them learn that life isn\u2019t fair.