Every now and then a parenting quote floats through my Facebook feed which causes my heart to skip a beat. So many people seem to love it, but I don’t. It makes me feel very sad. It goes like this…
I am not your friend
I am your parent
I will stalk you
I will flip out on you
Drive you insane
Be your worst nightmare and
Hunt you down when needed
Because I love you.
The quote always receives thousands of ‘likes’, and plenty of comments where parents encourage each other to be tough. It’s not easy to be a child’s worst nightmare but it’s our duty. It will all be worth it in the end. Won’t our kids thank us because they’ll know we cared? Won’t they know they were loved?
Somehow this way of parenting feels wrong to me.
I don’t want to drive my kids insane. I have no desire to be their worst nightmare. Does this mean I don’t love them?
This is the way I see it…
Why shouldn’t we treat our kids like we do our friends? We wouldn’t dare speak to our friends the way we sometimes speak to our children. (Not if we want to retain their friendship.) We respect them. We are polite. We enjoy their company.
But we have no authority over our friends. We can’t tell them what to do. We can’t stalk them, flip out on them, lecture them… I don’t think we should do that with our children either. Won’t that damage the relationship between a parent and a child?
To me, everything flows from a good relationship.
I won’t stalk my children. I will trust them.
I won’t flip out on them. I will talk to them.
I won’t lecture. I will listen.
I won’t drive them insane. I will be there for them, guiding and helping and supporting them.
I won’t be their worst nightmare. I will provide a safe haven, a place of unconditional love.
I hope there will never be a need to hunt them down, because I will try not to drive them away.
I will do all this because I love them.
I could make my children do what I want. I could control them with rules and threats and punishments, by flipping out and lecturing and hunting them down. But it seems to me that my children will be more inclined to listen to me and do what is right, if we have a good relationship, with mutual trust and respect.
I think of how popular this parenting quote is. Somehow I don’t think most people would agree with my opinions. They might say I’m too easy on my kids, that I am irresponsible, too soft, that I don’t care enough. I guess I could try explaining, but I don’t think they would understand.
Be my child’s worst nightmare? Why wouldn’t I do what sounds so reasonable? Don’t I love?