Memorandum from Your Child

Several years ago, I spotted a similar piece online. Since it was anonymous, I decided to amend and and shape it into its present form. I posted it in my office door and in the following years, I have had scores of requests for it.

So here it is.

Memorandum from Your Child

 Set limits for me. I know quite well that I ought not to have all I ask for. I am only testing you.

 Be firm with me. I prefer it. It makes me feel more secure.

 Be consistent. If you’re not, it confuses me and makes me try harder to get away with things.

 Don’t do for me what I can do for myself. It makes me feel smaller than I am.

 Please 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.

 Help me understand the difference between my mistakes and my sins. I need to learn from my mistakes without feeling that I’m no good and to confess my sins so that I learn God’s grace and your forgiveness.

 Don’t be too upset when I say “I hate you”. I don’t mean it but sometimes I want you to feel sorry for what you have done to me.

 Don’t protect me from consequences. I need to learn the hard way sometimes.

 Don’t take too much notice of my small ailments. Sometimes they get me the attention I need.
 Please don’t nag. If you do I shall have to protect myself by appearing deaf.

 Make promises that you can keep and keep the promises you make—it grows my trust in you.

 Don’t tax my honesty too much. I am easily frightened into telling lies.

 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.

 Don’t put me off when I ask questions for information. If you do you will find that I stop asking and seek my information elsewhere. If I ask questions for attention this is a different matter.

 Tell me of your anger at my actions without name-calling. If you call me “stupid” or “idiot”, or “clumsy” too often I’ll start to believe that. Help me learn how to handle my anger constructively. It’s best if you show me.

 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.

 Don’t overuse force with me. Once I know who is boss, I will respond more readily to being led.

 Don’t worry so much how much time we spend together. It’s how we spend it that counts. If you admit when you are wrong sometimes, I will learn that that is OK to do. I will also learn to practice forgiveness.

 And most importantly, Daddy, be a good husband to Mommy. It makes her a better Mom. And Mommy, be a good wife to Daddy. It makes him a better Dad.

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