The following quote has had over 9,000 shares on Facebook:
“My promise to my children – as long as I live – I am your Parent 1st – your Friend 2nd. I will stalk you, flip out on you, lecture you, drive you insane, be your worst nightmare & 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, & worries about you more than I do! If you don’t hate me once in your life – I am not doing my job properly. Re-post if you are a parent & agree.”
I’ve seen this posted on Facebook by my own friends quite a few times. At first, I was simply disturbed by the quote itself & dismissed it. But then shock set in. People are reposting this because it’s what they believe. And I’m so sad that some parents equate unconditional love for children with being “your worst nightmare.” Further perplexing, other friends of mine are “liking” this post when I’m pretty sure they don’t really believe it. And I realized – there’s a peer pressure to like this post, or you must not love your children.
There’s another way. Well, MANY other ways, that don’t involve the promise of stalking, flip outs, insanity, a bloodthirsty hound hunt, and hate . . . in the name of love.
A few thoughts . . .
It’s OK to take the roles of Parent and Friend out of a hierarchy. You can be both – all the time. Truly friendly acts are not inconsistent with being a Parent.
Most responsible adults I know do not understand that a stalker, flip out, lecturing, insane, nightmarish, bloodhound hunting parent is a loving parent. In fact, I’d consider a restraining order if someone treated me this way. Why does the belief persist that parents must control their children into responsibility?
I’ll NEVER find someone to love me as much as my stalker, bloodhound hunting parent that I’ve learned to hate at least once in my life. Well, shoot and quarter me now! While I fully understand and appreciate the unrequited love a parent feels for a child, I’d bet money most parents hope that their children find others in life who love them as much. Grandparents, eventual partners, kindred spirits and friends, siblings, to name a few. Do parents really have a need to claim their love for a child as paramount? I hope people feel freer to love others than that.
Success as a parent is measured by getting my child to hate me at least once. Wow. In fact, do any parents have as a goal to promote hate in their child? Must our friends hate us once for us to be deemed good friends? Need our coworkers hate us to prove we’re good employees? What place does hate hold in any relationship?
So please consider a different promise to your children – even if the path to achieve it seems unclear.
My promise to my child is that he can always count on me – as a parent and as a friend. That I will trust him, listen to him, brainstorm and problem solve with him, and love him unconditionally. He need not understand anything about my love for him to become a responsible adult. My hope is that my son loves me – not because I need or want to be loved by him – but because his love for me is a reflection. It’s a window into my practice as his Parent, and I hope that I have been and will be a helpful guide. May he find abundant love in the world – from me, his Dad, his family, his friends, a partner, his own children (should he have them), and from strangers. May he love freely, opting for understanding every time.
So please, give yourself a break as a Parent. Take a deep breath. Throw control and authority out the window. Believe that a child’s nature is good. Sow seeds of trust, respect, and understanding. You’ll make a friend for life.