Thursday, June 9, 2011

A Better Way

The following copy-and-paste post circulates around Facebook with some regularity:
My promise to my kids: I am not your friend . . . I am your mother. 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 needed because I LOVE YOU! When you understand that, I will know you are a responsible adult. You will NEVER find someone who loves, prays, cares, and worries about you more than I do! Repost if you love your children!
Well, clearly I must not love my children, because I would never repost this. It’s awful on so many levels. I must admit I have no idea where or with whom it originated, so I don’t know who to blame credit for this gem.
Let’s rip it apart review it line by line, shall we?
I am not your friend . . . I am your mother.
I believe it is possible for someone to be both. I would challenge those who think parents and children cannot share a true friendship (1) to consider what your definition of a “friend” really is, and then (2) to check out this article at Parenting Science.
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 needed because I LOVE YOU! 

Stalking, lecturing, spawning insanity . . . yes, that sounds good. And why would you want your child, at any stage of development, to consider you a “nightmare”? I cannot see how this would improve their behavior, although I can definitely see how it might teach them how not to get caught.

With Agents J and A outside the Basilica di San Nicola in Bari 
When you understand that, I will know you are a responsible adult. 
I’m not sure how a distant mothering relationship, being told what to do and hounded, and fear-based parenting magically leads to responsible adulthood. However, it seems this might lead to compliant, blindly obedient children who appear “good” but lack the self control to moderate their own behavior. Every parent’s dream, right?
You will NEVER find someone who loves, prays, cares, and worries about you more than I do!
Probably the most benign statement in the whole thing. And likely true . . . no one thinks about you, prays for you, and yes worries about you like your Mom.
Might I suggest a rewrite?
A message to my children: I am blessed to be your mother and honored to be your friend. I will always be there for you, supporting you and providing a secure, loving base. As long as your safety is not compromised, I will trust you to make decisions, even when I disagree. I will offer my advice when appropriate, but always remember in any conversation listening is more important than talking. I promise to be one person in your life on whom you can depend unconditionally. I know that you will grow into a content, responsible adult who respects others because you have been shown respect. I will care for your needs and pray for you daily because I love you. Repost to show how much you care about your children.

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4 comments :

  1. Wonderfully said, and reassuring there are others out there with like-minds. I am often disheartened by this type of post. It just feels as if it spreads ignorance....

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  2. Thanks, Amy. I would just cringe every time I saw that original post pop up in my FB feed.

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  3. I actually went searching for this quote out of frustration with my 13 year-old. I wanted to show her the quote to remind her that she can hate me all she wants when I tell her no to something "all her friends" get to do, or when she is getting texts and calls from me because I can't find her, or when I am her for punishing her for something she thinks is no big deal. And that no matter how much she hates me, I do it all for one reason. Love.

    My search landed me here on your blog and I really do appreciate your alternate perspective. I agree that parents can be friends with their kids, my daughter and I are wonderful friends. But I am also her her disciplinarian, her protector, her judge and jury and yes, even her worst nightmare sometimes. And she is right to think of me in that way at this stage in her development, it's part of having a desire for more independence and control of her life.

    My hope, and likely the hope of the original poster of the message, is that these thoughts will say to our children, we do the things we do because we love and care for you deeply.

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    Replies
    1. I'm glad your search led you here. Believe it or not, some combination of the words in the original posting lead more folks to this blog than any other search terms. True story. I hope you decide to stay a while.

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