This is a quote that has been going around the internet for some time and I still see pop up on Facebook from time to time. I hate it – a lot. I’m sure the author’s intention was to make a bold statement about their love for their children and I totally respect that. But I really have a problem with it. Let’s look at this a little closer, shall we?
“For as long as I live I will always be your parent first and your friend second.” No real problem here, but I think friend fits under the umbrella of parent. Friends are good. Friends are people we trust, confide in, listen to, respect and enjoy spending time with. I don’t think it needs to be differentiated from parent. I think a simple promise to be there for them would work just fine.
“I will stalk you, flip out on you, lecture you, drive you insane, be your worst nightmare and hunt you down like a bloodhound when I have to, because I love.” Whoa! There’s a lot going on in that sentence. Where do I begin? Let me start with the “hunt you down like a bloodhound” part (I’ll get back to the stalking and flipping out in a minute). I figure there are 2 reasons why you would hunt someone down with a bloodhound. The first is that they are a dangerous criminal. If this is the case, and your child is an actual dangerous criminal, please call the appropriate authorities and let them handle the situation. The second reason to hunt someone down with a bloodhound is because they are lost or missing. Again, by all means, call in the appropriate authorities, but keep in mind that if you have been stalking, lecturing, driving your child insane and being their worst nightmare, they may not be legitimately lost or missing but actually hiding from you. You might want to check the local court-house because they may be filing a restraining order against you, as most people would do if they were being stalked and hunted. Now wait, here comes the best part…”because I love you.” What!? When would a parent ever want a child to accept this type of behavior from any other individual and then define it as love? Never. At best, it is dysfunctional and at worst, it is abusive. This whole bit sounds more like a threat than a promise.
“When you understand that, I will know you have become a responsible adult.” Ummm…actually, I’m at a loss for words. Acceptance and understanding of hysteria as a healthy form of love is the criteria for responsible adulthood? Really? I’m not convinced the author of this quote is a responsible adult. Maybe a promise not to make ridiculous definitions of adulthood would be better. (Yeah, that got pretty snarky. I apologize.)
“You will never find anyone else in your life who loves, prays, cares and worries about you more than I do.” Okay, so that’s a fair and heartfelt sentiment. As parents, most of us believe this about the love we have for our children. But really, shouldn’t we desire that they have an abundance of people in their life that love and care about them as much as we do? Shouldn’t we desire great love in many forms for them? Of course, and most parents do. It is also important to keep in mind, that if you are flipping out and driving your child insane, they will be eager to find love somewhere else. I think a simple promise of unconditional love and concern without the guise of fear and intimidation would be much better.
“If you don’t mutter under your breath, “I hate you” at least once in your life, I’m not doing my job properly.” Well, it may not mean you are doing your job improperly, but I don’t think it necessarily means you are doing it properly. Should this really be a parenting goal? We can’t promise our kids that they won’t hate us at some point, but we should promise them that we won’t try to make them hate us.
It may be hard to tell from this piece, but I honestly try not to judge other people’s parenting styles. We all know parenting doesn’t come with an instruction manual, and even if it did, every child is different. We’re all just figuring it out as we go along, using the tools we have and learning from our mistakes. I think this quote bothers me so much is because I believe that the core responsibility we have to our children is to teach them love. To teach them what love is, how to share it and how to receive it. To teach them love in its purest form, love that is tender, nurturing and trusting. To teach them love without fear, condition or expectation. There are definitely days that I fail miserably, but my promise to my children is to set an example of the love I want them to experience and share throughout their life.