Lesson 6 of 7 - Learn to parent effectively

2 girls

Memos From and About
Your Child/ren

See the World
 Through Their Eyes

Collected by Peter K. Gerlach, MSW

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The Web address of this article is http://sfhelp.org/parent/memo.htm

Updated  04-06-2015

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      This is one of a series  of articles in Lesson 6 - learn to parent effectively. The range and scope of major social problems suggests that most parents are failing at this.

      This collection is in honor of the kids in our lives - including your group of inner children.


  A Memorandum from Your Child

RE: Me. Please...

  • Set limits for me. I know very well I shouldn't have all that I ask for. I'm only testing you, which is part of my job. I need a parent, not just a pal.

  • Be firm with me. I prefer it. It lets me know where I stand. 

  • Lead me rather than force me. If you force me, I learn that power is what really counts. I'll respond much better to being led.

  • Be consistent. If you're not, it confuses me, and makes me try harder to get away with everything I can.

  • Make promises that you can keep, and keep the promises you make. That grows my trust in you.

  • Know that I'm just being provocative when I say and do things to upset you. If you fall for my provocations, I'll try for more such victories.

  • Stay calm when I say "I hate you." I don't really mean it. I just want you to feel sorry for what you've done to me.

  • Help me feel big rather than small. When I feel little, I need to act like a "big shot" or a whiney cripple.

  • Let me do the things I can do for myself. Your doing them for me makes me feel like a baby - and I may keep putting you in my service.

  • Correct me in private. I can hear you better if you talk quietly with me alone, rather than with other people present.

  • Talk about my behavior when our conflict has gone down. In the heat of battle somehow my listening gets bad, and my cooperation is even worse. It's OK for you to take the actions needed, but let's not talk about it until we all calm down.

  • Talk with me rather than preach at me. You'd be surprised how well I know what's right and wrong. I need to have my feelings and ideas respected, just like you - so please listen to them. 

  • Tell me of your anger at my actions without name-calling. If you call me "stupid" or "jerk," or "clumsy" too often I'll start to believe that. Help me learn how to handle anger without harming. 

  • Help me feel that my mistakes are not sins. I need to learn from my errors, without feeling that I'm no good. 

  • Talk firmly without nagging. If you nag over and over, I'll protect myself by growing deaf. 

  • Let my wrong behavior go without demanding big explanations. Often, I really don't know why I did it.

  • Accept as much as you can of what I'm able to tell you. I'm easily scared into lying if my honesty is taxed too much. 

  • When you teach me things, please keep it simple. If you use big words or get into long confusing explanations, my mind goes somewhere else. 

  • Enjoy me! I have a lot to offer you!

From Learning to Step Together, Manual for Leaders; by Cecile Currier LCSW; Stepfamily Association of America, Baltimore, MD., 1982

  Notes on an Unhurried Journey

      When we adults think of children there is a simple truth which we ignore: childhood is not preparation for life; childhood is life. A child isn't getting ready to live; a child is living.

       Children are constantly confronted with the nagging question: "What are you going to be?" Courageous would be the youngster who, looking the adult squarely in the face, would say, "I'm not going to be anything; I already am." We adults would be shocked by such an insolent remark, for we have forgotten, if indeed we ever knew, that a child is an active, participating and contributing member of society from the time of birth.

      Childhood isn't a time when a pre-human is molded into a human who will then live life; the child is a human who is living life. No child will miss the zest and joy of living unless these are denied by adults who have convinced themselves that childhood is a period of preparation.

       How much heartache we would save ourselves if we would recognize children as partners with adults in the process of living, rather than always viewing them as apprentices. How much we could teach each other; we have the experience and they have the freshness. How full both our lives could be.

       The children may not lead us, but at least we ought to discuss the trip with them, for, after all, life is their journey, too.

From Notes on an Unhurried Journey by John A. Taylor. © 1991 John A. Taylor; published by Four Walls Eight Windows, New York.

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  Children Learn What They Live - adapted from Dorothy L. Nolte

  • If children live with conditional Love, they learn to distrust 

  • If children live with deceit, they learn to be false 

  • If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn 

  • If children live with hostility, they learn to fight 

  • If children live with ridicule, they learn to be shy

  • If children live with neglect, they learn to abandon themselves 

  • If children live with inconsistency, they learn to be furtive 

  • If children live with violence, they learn to be numb or scared 

  • If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty 

  • If children live with perfectionism, they learn to be inadequate

  • If children live with worry, they learn to feel anxious 

  • If children live with unconditional love, they learn to love back 

  • If children live with tolerance, they learn to be patient 

  • If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence 

  • If children live with praise, they learn to appreciate

  • If children live with fairness, they learn justice 

  • If children live with security, they learn to have faith 

  • If children live with genuine approval, they learn to like themselves 

  • If children live with acceptance and friendship, they learn to give and receive closeness, care, and love.

       Which of these did you grow up with? How did it feel, usually? Which of these are you consistently providing for the kids in your life? How do they feel?

   On Children - from "The Prophet," by Kahlil Gibran (1923)

Your children are not your children.

They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.

They come through you, but not from you.

And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love, but not your thoughts,

for they have their own thoughts.

You may house their bodies but not their souls,

for their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow -

which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you. 

For life goes not backward. 

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.

The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and 

He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far. 

Let your bending in the Archer's hand be for gladness; 

For even as He loves the arrow that flies, 

so He loves also the bow that is stable. 

  What All Children Want Their Parents to Know
By Julia Loomans and her mother Diane Loomans
Teach me to love and care for myself
Through your positive example.
I will learn much more from what you do
Than from anything you could ever say.
Notice me often,
And take joy in my very existence,
So that I grow up to feel special
And know that I am loved.
Listen to me
With an open ear and a loving heart,
So that I learn to understand my feelings
And trust that my needs will be heard.
Play with me often.
Let town your guard and be carefree.
The memories will last longer
And our connection even longer.
Focus on what Iím doing right,
And tell me when you appreciate me,
So that I learn to feel worthy
And motivated to do even more.
Tell me more about your life,
Your hopes, dreams and successes,
So that I come to know you as a person
And can call you my friend as well as my parent.

      Pause, breathe, and notice what you're thinking and feeling. Imagine asking each of the adults who raised you - including grandparents - to read and discuss this page with you. Imagine reading this out loud in a family meeting, a parenting group, pr in a church service. What do you think would happen?

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