Q: We have that house where all the kids like to hang out. That’s just how I like it. I’m the “cool mom” and, truth be told, it’s a bit of an ego boost for me. That said, sometimes these kids are a bit much. They help themselves to food in the kitchen and leave a mess. They’re rowdy and have cursed within my earshot. I’d like to rein them in a little bit, but I don’t want to sacrifice my cool mom cred. Any suggestions?

A: First, thank you for making your home a safe place for kids to hangout and connect! Children need time to bond outside of school, just like we need time with our friends outside of work. Though satisfying, being accepted as the “cool mom” is likely reducing the kid’s view of you as an authority figure. To better strike that balance, you’ll need to lean into that other role. Be careful not to overcorrect! If you do, they’ll wonder who body snatched you! Start with some gentle redirection, framed as “Can you help me with keeping the kitchen clean when you get a snack?” Or responding with a playful yet authoritative, “I heard that!” the next time you hear an F-bomb go off in the house. Gentle redirection, when done consistently, will help get things in balance. When kids are on track, make sure to acknowledge it. A little praise can go a long way towards making a new behavior stick! It’s critical as you make these changes to be consistent, clear, and predictable with the kids. By doing so, they’ll likely rise to the occasion. Using these two strategies should help you keep your chill style while staying clear about your expectations; striking that balance and getting the best of both worlds.