My Promise to My Children

 

my promise 2

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.

 

7 thoughts on “My Promise to My Children

  • March 10, 2014 at 6:48 pm
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    Actually, as parents our primary responsibility is to teach them respect, responsibility and love. Without the first two, our children will not grow up to be unselfish, irresponsible adults. My job as a parent does not involve being their friend until well into adulthood. They had friends. Those friends were their peers. I was their parent and my job was to lead them in the right directions by my actions and deeds and to help them to become noble adults. They are now in their late 20’s and early 30’s and I can see that I did my job well. I was able to be a good parent and still raise terrific men who are wonderful spouses to their wives. And they always have known how much they were loved – even when they were held accountable for their actions.

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    • March 11, 2014 at 5:46 pm
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      Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts Cindy. I certainly didn’t mean to imply that children don’t need to learn responsibility and respect. I simply believe that they can be taught in a gentler, less abrasive way. Children can be held accountable for their actions without lectures, flipping out, stalking and being a nightmare. I am glad your parenting style and love helped produce such wonderful men 🙂

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  • July 23, 2014 at 5:22 pm
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    i just read the quote you referenced and felt relief when I read it mostly because I’ve had to do this to my 16 year old recently. She did go missing and I did end up calling the authorities but before I called I certainly felt like I was ‘hunting her down like a blood hound.’

    I trusted her and loved her and certainly didn’t parent this way before. I have a 26 year old who I did not parent this way and we are wonderful friends and she is a respectful, loving adult. With my sixteen year old I have now started to monitor her online activities only to find out she is abusing alcohol and drugs, having unsafe sex, and sending naked pictures of herself to a boy over the internet. I do admit I am holding her accountable for her actions through natural consequences and not flipping out. My monitoring of her online activity (which I do feel guilty about because it feels like stalking) is for her safety. One individual she was talking to turned out to be a pedophile and she was summoned to appear in court as a witness.

    I ask her to let me know where she is going when she goes out because this is common courtesy. I tell my children where I am going when I go out. She has younger siblings who do not behave this way.

    I am agreeing with you. The internet quote is a bit over the top. But I also believe it probably comes from someone with a child like my 16 year old who was at their wits end and just wants their child to make it to adulthood if not just the next day. I think the key words in that quote are ‘if I have to.’

    Thank you so much for providing this perspective. I found it really helpful and will add some balance to my own parenting challenge.

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    • July 24, 2014 at 12:30 pm
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      I sincerely thank you for your personal and honest comment.

      Yes, “if I have to” is key. I completely agree that when our children put themselves in danger it is appropriate to monitor them and call the appropriate authorities if necessary, things we wouldn’t normally do in less extreme situations.

      This quote does have merit when these actions are approached with compassion, understanding and concern rather than control, judgement and punishment.

      Like I said, parenting is so complicated and we are all just figuring it out as we go along with the tools we have, so I truly appreciate you sharing your perspective and personal experience. Best wishes to you and your family <3

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  • October 22, 2015 at 4:46 pm
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    my comment is further up, or rather part of my story. You upset me, I cannot go into everything, but one thing I’ve come to believe is that I spoiled her. My only child, a daughter. I tried counseling, (after I realized I’d lost any “control”) in parenthesis because I don’t believe in control, she knew the appt time etc. but I was the only one who showed up……..she still believes that all the problems were/are mine alone. She considers herself a great communicator….but not myself or with myself. Where did she learn to communicate, if not from me…years of communicating) She quit communicating with me over 3 yrs ago using the excuse that internet was intermittent & cell ph spotty ( no signal)Living Off Grid, but not really off grid, there’s a town. But, on her FB pg she keeps in contact with numerous friends, just not me. I don’t have her ph #, or her address ( I know the town & state) Wouldn’t be so bad but I have 2 grandchildren, naturally we’ve not been able to bond. But when they reach 14 they are allowed a cell ph & a FB pg, so I’ve reestablished contact with my granddaughter ( I wouldn’t say anything negative about her mom, in fact don’t talk about her at all, focus on granddaughter just like I wouldn’t say anything negative to my daughter about her dad) Wish you could hear the whole story………but suffice it to say, the last time she saw me, after visiting her dad for the 2nd time at 38….(I made it clear if she wanted to see him I would arrange it, from the time she as 13) She came to my home & screamed at me that my bio parents were horrendous..(her dad mustv’e said something to set her off)..I knew they were not good parents that’s why I wouldn’t let her around them. (lived several states away) She did meet them a cpl of times, but very short. But from the time I was 14 I had the best foster parents anyone could dream of…………..They are my parents, they did an excellent job considering what they had to work with. (I wasn’t a bad kid, abused in every way imaginable, but not bad) I went to counseling, parenting, everything I could do so I would be a better parent, & now this……..I’m crying so hard I can’t see anymore, my heart has been ripped out…….I don’t believe in control, but my daughter does, she controls everything, has for yrs…..she’s 40 now, I’m torn, I have to be ready to communicate when she desires it….ie got a belated note saying Happy Birthday mom, I love you…first one in 4 yrs, how am I supposed to feel, react.not react?. I’m so used to not hearing from her I didn’t even see it my “foster”sister did.

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  • October 22, 2015 at 5:15 pm
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    apparently the other part I referenced is not visible to me…perhaps you can find it, perhaps not…..she was a runaway at 15…you bet I was LIKE a bloodhound, she was gone 3 weeks!!!!. I did flip out, the entire 3 weeks. esp at nite. (not when she got home tho) Another thing was I really did try not to flip out, I tried not to, but it’s hard when not only are you goaded but she brought friends over to watch………& she pushed every button I had (learned very well from a husband I had for 2 yrs the other 2 were in divorce court) She says she’s proud of me for getting away (battered womens shelter) She didn’t get hit, but I know it damaged her, I got her counseling & never remarried…..but, go ahead tell me how I did it so wrong, again, like you did so eloquently in your first comment. I’m used to getting the blame, I’m used to abandonment, betrayal and much much worse. But I made every effort to break the chain of violence, including, emotional, psychological & verbal violence/abuse. ie even no name calling, acting like, but never ‘you are……………’ Besides the affirmative ones. I’m tired, I’m seriously injured, have (can’t remember the proper term but not passed from generation to generation RA, Fybro…..do you know who gets these auto immune diseases? Ppl who are too strong (alone) for too long. I know I’ve flipped out here, but I’m tired of taking all the blame……….where was her dad???? Having fun somewhere, btw no child support either. You really took that post out of context, pleased with yourself & your perfect parenting skills, in a 2 parent household, passing judgement on others, it wasn’t even meant to be taken seriously….perhaps your conscious is pricking you?

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  • October 22, 2015 at 5:31 pm
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    sorry, got a bit snarky there myself, we did have a loving & gentle relationship until she turned 14. Then I found out she’d been shoplifting, playing truant, that’s when she just loved to keep saying things to make me flip in front of her friends (oh yeah have PTSD from my childhood) When she wanted to be emancipated I talked with her about what this would mean & that the judge would want to know she could take care of herself. I offered to give her the checkbook so she could learn to pay rent on time & other bills, grocery shop, all of it. I hid my feelings of hurt, so I could help her do what she really thought she wanted to do………………………….she never even tried, & why? I was doing it all….she did no chores (never could think of a way to get her to do them, I mean I tried………….

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