My Promise To My Child

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.

Dr. Rachel

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8 Responses to My Promise To My Child

  1. Alison says:

    Thanks for a great reminder. Your classes and advice continue to inspire me and give me something to strive for. Keep up the good work, Doc!

  2. Donna Jansen says:

    I have never had anyone send me the post, My Promise To My Child….but I have heard almost the same comments from parents….. I admire the fact that you, Dr. Rachel, can think well over the important dimensions of life, that you are able to think at a consistently high level across all dimensions and yet, you continually strive to be fair-minded. …. Thank you for your inspirational words….Wow…during the first paragraph…my thoughts were…has she lost her mind? Whew…what a relief to read your entire post….obviously, I didn’t read….your lead in…”New blog entry in response to a “My Promise To My Child” post that’s been going around. Your children don’t have to hate you, even once, to know that you love them.” I absolutely concur with Dr. Rachel!

  3. Leslie says:

    As a mother of young adult children (5 of them), a counselor, and a Christian parent who loves my children with all of my heart – I just posted this quote on my own facebook. Please note that this says “when needed.” It also states, “You will NEVER find someone who loves, prays, cares, & worries about you more than I do!” Unconditional love means we NEVER give up on our kids, it does not mean that we trust when our kids have not been trustworthy, or that we standby and do nothing when our children make choices that will harm them in life. I my young child runs in front of a car, I will respond in a quick and aggressive way because I love him and will do whatever I need to do to save him from harm – maybe even flip out and lecture a bit. I will not waive from the sidewalk and say, “remember I love you no matter what you decide to do.” When my young adult child makes the choice to drink and drive, I will voice my concern on this – I may even hunt him down like a bloodhound to get him out of that dangerous situation – and if he is found by police first,I am not likely to bail him out of jail. I am not a mother who yells, spanks or criticizes, but I AM a mother who is not afraid to parent when needed – and I’m sure it has driven my kids insane at least once in their lives. I sure am glad they know that I love them enough to care about their well-being. By the way – my children are loving, responsible adults who love their mother very much.

    • Cheyenne says:

      I totally agree with you Leslie. Some of these people are not reading in between the lines they’re just reading and focusing on certain words. They would react and do the same thing any other loving and concerned parent would do. And the thing about being your friend second yeah its ok to be a friend to your child but to a certain extent, but your a parent first. Thats what’s wrong with some of these kids now the parents are trying to be friends and that’s why some of these kids are dysfunctional.

  4. admin says:

    Leslie, I appreciate your thoughts & am glad to read about how much you love your children. There are many ways to parent – not one way to parent. One rule of thumb I follow is – am I helping my child to keep himself, others, and the environment safe? In this way, the parenting I describe is not permissive – I would never say, “Well, he chose to run out in front of that car.” Or, “He had a drink & now wants to drive – well, that’s his choice.” The question here is the method. My method is not the method for everyone – but it does make sense and work for me that I do not ever need to flip out, lecture, or hunt down. And yet, my son makes good choices, is trustworthy, and listens to me, most of the time. :) Does he ever make choices where I need to intervene? Absolutely. It’s the way I intervene that might be different. And I believe it’s possible to do that in a way that BUILDS trust and love, and eliminates fear and guilt.

  5. Leslie says:

    As I ready your response and your profile, I understand why you see this a a differing parental role. As a mother of young children, I would have agreed with you. I, too, teach parenting classes and stress the importance of unconditional love, trust and respect. I am not disagreeing with your techiques, nor am I promoting spanking, or hateful parenting. When your child is grown, has a car, and makes a bad choice (or forgetfully misses a deadline by three hours) “hunting you down like a hound” takes on a whole new meaning – and it IS in the name of love and safety. My response to this viral post is not meant to discredit what you teach. I just think that the spirit of the post is this: What the CHILD percieves as lecturing, hunting, worst nightmare stuff is not usually that at all! There comes a time when a parent intervenes in the best interest of their teen that the teen WILL accuse the parent of ruining their lives in some way. It’s not disrespect, or a response to over controlling parents – it’s what happens when the frontal lobe of the brain grows exponentially and adolescent narcissism sets in – it’s natural! This post is saying to the kids, “hey, when you think I’m trying to ruin your life, I may truly be trying to keep you safe and and teach you positive character traits because I love you.”

  6. admin says:

    Leslie, I really like a couple of your points. One is to read the quote as though it’s from the child’s perspective – though the child may perceive the parent to be a hunting bloodhound, this may not be the way the parent intends his/her efforts at all. Also, I like your point about semantics – even if you take the post to be from the perspective of the parent, it doesn’t have to be taken so literally; a hunting bloodhound may be a semantic exaggeration of something completely different and loving. And I’m happy to go with exaggeration and humor. But at the same time – people ARE taking this post literally. And while you or I might interpret it differently, lots of people think of lecturing as yelling and “your worst nightmare” as something truly fearful or hurtful. I think it’s important to get specific, talk about semantics, and educate about alternatives to parenting that may induce fear and guilt.

  7. Vmr729 says:

    I like the idea, I think there are fine lines. Yes it’s important to parent, which sometimes means taking the unpopular path, which is kind of where I believe the 1st author was trying to imply. I do believe that it is important to show children we are human, we are flexible, we have boundaries based on safety, respect and love but we are loving, kind and filled with human thoughts!!! Thank you for sharing your kinder approach, I don’t want my child to hate me, I DO WANT respect and love, and an understanding of my actions, even if unfavorable, but I always want them safe and emotionally secure.

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