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Jun 17

My Promise to My Children

I ignore a lot of traditional parenting adages that come through my Facebook news feed. But every so often, one pops up that I have a hard time ignoring. A few days ago, several friends had posted this as their status:

My promise to my children. I am not your friend. I am your mom. 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 and worries about you more than I do! Re-post if you are a parent and agree.♥

Really?

I’ve blogged in the past on my thoughts about being both parents and friends with your children, so I obviously wasn’t a fan right from the start of the quote. But it just got better as I read. Stalk? Flip out? Drive insane? Hunt you down like a bloodhound?

Am I a mom or a troubled suitor from a Lifetime TV Movie? And since when does making someone’s life a living nightmare equate to love?

Here’s my version, and my promise.

My promise to my children. I am your friend. I am your mom. I will protect you, listen to you, respect you, support you, be your strongest advocate & give you wings to fly when you are ready because I LOVE YOU. You will never find someone who loves, prays, and cares about you more than I do.

I’m not here to be the warden. I’m here to be the mom.

**Update:  I’ve gotten several comments suggesting that it would have been even better if I’d changed that last sentence to “I hope you do find someone who loves, prays, and cares about you more than I do.”  I absolutely agree!  I think that’s what we should all want for our kids.  :) **


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  • Gypsy Chaos

    Really? No comments again??

    I wouldn’t repost that promise when I saw it either. I objected to the tone, the word selection – ugh, the entire concept. I may or may not be my children’s friend. I will always love them – but not in that creepy, stalker-ish way that promise describes.

    What’s the name of that truly creepy {IMO} book? The one with the mother who crawls into her child’s room and creeps to his bed each and every night – including after he’s married?!?!? and says that rhyming thing about always loving him and how he’ll always be her baby??
    The kindergarten teacher read that during a mothers’ day tea. There may have been one other mother with dry eyes. I suspect I was the only one with huge, freaked out eyes. The storyline sounds so wrong! And the fb promise always brings that book to mind.

    • Dana122

      Yes, the tone might be tough, the words might be harsh, but there are times when nothing else works and, in our desperation, we are forced to take the “path less taken” because this might be the only one that could save your children’s life. My story is shocking and ugly – prepare to judge me – I still relive the same awful feeling over and over again – at just 18 years old, my daughter got a boyfriend, who was drug dealer (14 years older than her), quit school and began partying. My husband and I tried everything, but nothing worked. One day before she planned to move out of our house, we got one more chance to save her before being introduced to drugs – an ugly chance we got, but we were too desperate to not take it – We were rather ready to see our daughter in jail, than addicted to drugs or overdosed. Yes, we found drugs in her room and called the police. At the same time, we called the boyfriend and told him that we put our own daughter in jail and we would not hesitate to put him there too – if he comes within a mile of our daughter again. He swore on his life he would never see her again.
      After four days of jail, we got our daughter back. She was extremely traumatized, but nevertheless, it was our daughter, whom we loved very much. Needless to say she never touched drugs again.
      Yes, go ahead, judge me – anyway, you can never do it better than me – after this, I overwhelmed myself with guilt many nights – until one day – the summer of 2010 – the news that I was about to receive was meant to crash my guilt and doubts forever – my daughter’s ex- boyfriend was found shot in the head in a city dumpster. How can I feel guilty now? My action was infinitely milder when staring death in the face.
      Today, my daughter is happily married with a very smart, educated young man and – they love each other very much – She is working towards her Bachelor Degree in Psychology. I guess that life can be great, even after an ugly storm.

      • jen

        Thank you for sharing your story. I am very glad that your daughter is safe, sound and happy, and that you all made it through that difficult time. You’re absolutely correct in saying that I could not have done better in your situation, as you were the one going through it. Not sure why you’d need to assume I’d judge you.

        • Dana

          There will be people ready to judge, for those are my comments.

      • Gypsy Chaos

         Dana – I just came across this and have no idea if you’ll ever see my reply….

        You did what you felt was best in a specific situation. How you reacted in one case may or may not reflect your typical relationship with your daughter.

        I too would certainly do whatever was necessary to jolt my daughter. There are times and situations when the actions of the promise are the best things a parent can do for her child.

        But I don’t see those actions as among the normal, everyday things I do with regard to my children. I don’t want those to be my automatic responses. Maybe that’s the difference – I don’t want stalking, etc to be my go-to responses. Some ‘tricks’ need to be reserved for extreme circumstances.

      • Heather Ginn

        Thank heavens you saved her!!!! What an inspirational story!! There aren’t many people who would be that brave to do what you did. What strength you have!

  • Teresa Vinzant

    I absolutely love your version of promises to your children. I also shared it on my fb page. Hopefully that one paragraph will make a difference in another mom’s life.
    Thank-you for sharing your opinion.
    Teresa Vinzant

  • VLA

    Each version has a place in the story of parental love. And the book you refer to is “Love You Forever” by Munch… he wrote it after the lost of babies… learn the story and then reread the book in a different light.

  • Lynn

    I like both versions and have seen a third which I really like which is just a little different…
    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, 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.

  • Amy

    I am coming to this post late, but it is still interesting to read all the different responses. The part that bothers me in all three versions is “You will NEVER find someone who loves, cares, & worries about you more than I do!” What a sad thing to say to another human being. As much as I love my daughter (which is as much as I am humanly capable of loving), I would never tell her that. Because I hope she DOES find people to love her as much (and even more) than me. I would never be so fatalistic as to give her the message that finding a deeper and greater love than mine is impossible. Who knows what the world, the future, holds for her? I hope with all my heart that it holds true love, even after I am gone.

    • jen

      Amy, yes, you are not the first person to take me to task for the “never” part. I agree it could have been better written, and that a much nicer sentiment would have been, “I hope you find someone who loves, cares, and worries about you more than I do.” I wasn’t trying to be fatalistic. I’m human too. :(

      • Amy

        Jen, you are a leader in my heart for living an authentic life, one with faith and freedom. You were purposefully parroting the style of the original post, so people would recognize it. You are the opposite of a fatalist! And you are beautifully human. I love your spirit! The first version is trying to be funny (I guess), but it is sad. It breaks my heart to think that some children grow up without having their parent as a friend. I am so glad that you re-wrote it!

  • Shantell McRae

    I personally love this quote.
    I am not my children’s “friend.” I am their parent which is a much STRONGER relationship than a friendship. Anyone who has ever had a teenager knows what the intent of this poem is.

    Teenagers will try to hide things from you, because their “friends” will temp them in to doing things they should not do. They will miss calls to their cell phones, sneak out, skip school, and party till they are drunk with friends. Our job is to limit this activity, with lectures about how it will effect their future lives. We should be their worst nightmare in some sense of the word. If your children don’t hate you from time to time. You are not doing your job.

    Cheers, good luck to you all. :)

    • jen

      I have a teenager. My teenager doesn’t hide things from me, because we have an honest, open relationship. He doesn’t sneak out or skip school or party with friends until he’s drunk. I think it’s a sad and pessimistic way to view teenagers personally, and it doesn’t have to be that way.

      • Shantell McRae

        Maybe I should have been more clear.

        Some teenages will do those things, even if you have and open honest relationship. :)

        Everyone is entirely different.

        There’s another quote I like, “raising teenagers is like trying to nail jello to a tree.” lol, again not all teenagers. :)

  • Karen

    I totally agree! Where did this quote come from, anyway?

  • kelley

    As a parent who has worked hard at my relationship with my children, I always feel so defensive when people say that if you are just open and honest with your child then you don’t need to check up/look in their rooms/stalk etc. It makes me feel like a failure because my kids do NOT share things with me even though they are fully aware that I love them unconditionally and do not judge them. It reminds me of when I only had one child/baby and he was perfect. He didn’t whine for candy in the grocery store; he didn’t fight me about sitting in a stroller or car seat; he stayed in his crib/bed with no issues; etc. It was so easy for me to judge all my friends who had kids who did NOT do those things. Of course, I attributed my child’s behavior to my parenting. What a great feeling it was. And then….along came number 2 and I quickly lost that feeling of smuggness .
    I like the original FB post and I also really like Jen’s version.

  • Anne

    Out of curiosity, I am wondering what age everyone’s children are. In all honesty, had I read this when my kids were a few years younger, I wouldn’t have been a fan. Now that I’ve walked a mile in moccasins of a mom of a teenager, I love it.

    • jen

      I have a teenager, and I’m still not a fan.

  • Dee

    I have three children, two of which are in their twenties and one of which is still a teenager. I had a very open, honest relationship with all of my children, my eldest, in particular. She shared everything with me, or so I thought. I considered myself a fairly liberal parent but I was strict when I needed to be. We ate dinner as a family, my house was always full of their friends, and I was actively involved in their lives. If my children were hanging out with people who were experimenting with alcohol and drugs I would only allow them to see those friends with supervision, but would not allow them to hang out with them unsupervised. It was not until my oldest children were in their twenties that they shared with me that they experimented with alcohol and mild drugs as well. Now my teenager has met someone who is pulling him in the wrong direction despite all of our best efforts to block this person from his life. All I can say is you NEVER know what your children are up to 24/7 and you can’t say that anything you will never have to stalk them or be their worst enemy. You never know what you’ll do until you’re faced with a situation.

  • Dee

    How’s this slightly revised version:

    My promise to my children: I will always be your friend but first and foremost, I am your mom. If I have to 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. I hope someday you find someone who loves, prays, cares and worries about you as much than I do! Re-post if you are a parent and agree.♥

  • Kristen

    My children will have friends but only one mother… Friends will come and go but I will always be the MOM!!! if that means I have to be the “warden” so my children are safe, raised right, and know right from wrong, that is what I will be. I do this because I love them more then my own life. I will be playful and we will laugh and have great times, but when it is necessary I will put my foot down.. this because I am the MOM, not a friend… It seems that most parents nowadays don’t want to be a “bad guy.”

    • Michelle
      • Horizon2000

        I am a parent of two children and would just change a little this statement. Instead of saying “I am not your friend. I am your parent” I would say “I am not only your friend, but also a parent”. Reading these posts I have an impresion that your definition of parent is completely different from a definition of a friend. To me it looks like a definition of parent fully contains definition of a friend and then some more. A friend may not say something that should have because does not want to hurt the other person. Parent cannot have that. If a parent see something g that

        • tamara

          Amen

  • Coveness

    I must be reading these wrong because somewhere I saw it posted that all the versions say that you will NEVER find someone who prays, loves and worries about you like me but I could have sworn I read one version that said I hope one day you find someone who ……and well Im not going type out the whole thing as I seem to be reading what is not there, :(:(, personally people shouldnt be under verbal attack for opinions and quotes as to how they feel,im sure it wasnt meant quite as literally as it was written, people online need to lighten up and not all parents methods will be the same.AND before posting, notice exactly what was written.Bottom line is all seemed to care enough to have a say whethere from a so called “warden’s” perspective or not.

  • Nicole

    The revised version is great for inexperienced moms, or moms of young children. As the mother of a teenage girl (and 3 other children), I can definitely say that the original is much more appropriate and accurate.

    I am not a fan of parents trying to be their child’s “friend”. I am their mother. I listen to them, I keep the communication open, I am their safe place. They know I will protect them, guide them, and teach them. They also know that I am not their “friend”.

    • pathlesstaken

      I have four kids, and my oldest is 15…. so I wouldn’t call myself inexperienced.  :)   Also, you said, “I listen to them, I keep the communication open, I am their safe place.”  Wouldn’t you agree that those are all things that friends do?

      • Jmdambroten5

        Keeping open communication and listening to them in general is the best thing a parent can do in my opinion. 

        • pathlesstaken

          Absolutely!

  • http://www.facebook.com/whitehawkjulie Julie Lawrence

    Nice!!! My sister actually posted this as her status update, and I wasn’t brave enough to comment!  :)

  • http://twitter.com/Jebril Pedo Bear

    Insecure crazy hormonal mothers…nothing different. Most kids who have moms like this leave at the soonest possible chance. An overprotective, obsessive mother is a nightmare and an annoyance. Yes some of it is necessary to keep your kid safe, the rest is you being a control freak.

    • Heather Ginn

      you have no sense of humor. I posted this and my TEENAGE daughters “liked” it, and commented on it, she’s serious, don’t mess with my mom!!! Yea, they are RUNNING and sooo annoyed!! I will do WHATEVER it takes to keep my daughters safe. They tell people that with pride – boyfriends come over and ask about dad, they say you don’t need to worry about him, worry about my mom. She’s the one that will kill you if you hurt me.
      Who’s hormonal??? Have you ever heard of a papa bear?? LOL!!

  • http://twitter.com/Jebril Pedo Bear

    My promise to my mom. I’m not your friend, I’m your son. I will run away, I will argue endlessly, yell at you, ignore you and give you panic attacks and drive you insane when needed because I LOVE YOU!!! When you understand that, I will know you are a responsible mother. You will NEVER find someone who means as much and who makes you worry as much as me!

    • Heather Ginn

      You sound like a teenager that did not have a caring mom. I’m sorry to hear that.

  • Kidgie

    I have 5 kids – 24, 22, 20, 9 and 6. I am their FRIEND first and foremost.a REAL friend. As in, they do something not safe, or unwise, they hear from me. I’m so, so sorry for you all that can’t or won’t be your kid’s friend. It’s the best thing EVER to be your child’s friend – and to have your parents as your friend. My parents are two of my best friends and have been for a very long time, and my kids, I hope, will have the same experience that I had. It’s comforting and safe to know your parents are your friends. It makes me angry to see and hear parents that invade their children’s lives like wardens. Damn! What ever happened to treat others as you want to be treated?! Give respect – GET respect. And a life-long relationship of that, plus love, plus trust. 

    • pathlesstaken

       Beautifully said, thanks for sharing <3

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  • Queenofmisty_80

    I have copied and pasted this.. thank you I needed this atm.. A reminder of what I am and what I will continue to be.. although I never have had this.. I will make this possible thru my children. <3

  • http://twitter.com/JRGrules Keith Harvey

    you guys are arguing the same points, but what you really need to establish is what the definition of “friend” is to you.  When I was 14, I didn’t want a 45 yo friend in the terms of what a friend means to me.  My son is 15, daughter 13.
    If you do not have teens, then you are not qualified to make a comment.  The statement above is obviously meant for teenage children.  Most teenage children’s largest concerns are about their friends and that does not included a parent.  If your teenager considers you a friend in the way that the author of “the statement” does, they really need to get out more.

    • Heather Ginn

      I think the real question is what the definition of a parent is? A warden?? A bloodhound?? I used to go to my mom and ask her questions about sex, she told me it was the difference between a male and a female. So I got my sex education from my “friends”. Lord knows it was not a good education. I vowed to be open with my kids, and to make sure that they could come to me about that kind of stuff. I also vowed to have a realistic approach to what a teenager is. I educate them on every drug I have knowledge of – what it does, how it is done, and the consequences. So yes, we have conversations that I suppose most 45 year olds probably don’t have with 14-15 year olds would have. I’m only 35 but, not the point. I don’t want someone in high school offering my kids something and them thinking they are going to just have a “good time” and end up on a psychiatric unit having a psychotic break from bath salts that someone bought at a gas station. Yes. I have a twitter account, a pinterest, instagram, tumblr, facebook, etc. etc accounts and I do check in on them a couple times a week. But I know my kids, and I know that they are very well educated. And I know their friends, I don’t chose them or put restrictions on them, because I know as a teenager as soon as I was prohibited it was the VERY first thing on my to do list. But by golly they don’t go in blind. So – is that considered a friend?? Or a parent??

    • turtlegirl784

      I can tell it was originally aimed at parents of teenagers… but it doesn’t say that those behaviors are going to end when the kids actually are responsible adults. My mother-in-law has shared this on Facebook multiple times over the last year or so, and her kids are grown up and happily married. At that point, it’s a little weird and irritating.

  • scaredgirl

    Dear every parent on here,

    Please please please don’t do the things in that first “promise”. Take it from me. I have a mother who stalks me, who hunts me down if I don’t call her every day, who lectures me about everything I do, and who is one of my worst nightmares. And, you know what? My life sucks. I’m 24 years old, and terrified of my parents. I was a straight A student, never smoked, drank, did drugs, or even had sex. I have a university degree and a great job. And I still get sick with panic every time I know I have to call my parents. I can’t tell my parents anything, and I feel so alone a lot of the time. I’ve gone through so much in my life that I just wish I could have gone to my mom about, but I was so scared of her that I never did.

    Please, parents, promise your kids what is written in the second promise. Love them, support them, care for them, and always be there for them. You don’t want your kids to have to go through what I do.

    And when they grow up, let them go. Let them be themselves, and love them no matter what. We do still need you, even if we are big. But we need you as a friend to help us, not to control us.

    Love shouldn’t involve fear.

    • Tamara

      Nice words I agree with you Im a parent with 4 kids and I know what you meant sorry for you that you feel that way I hope and pray that it gonna be better for you someday !!

  • Carrie

    I really love your blog post on this. So many people say, “I’m going to be my kid’s PARENT, not their friend!” as though the two were mutually exclusive. What crazy, blind thinking. Some parents equate being their child’s “friend” with negligent discipline, but where did that come from? I hope my children will come to me as a friend. Yes, I am their mother first, which means I have an authority and a specific relationship that their friends who are their peers do not, but I am so grateful that I am able to consider my mom my “friend.” I think loving motherhood lends itself to having a kind of “friendship” with your child. That doesn’t mean I don’t take all my parenting responsibilities seriously. Actually, it means I take them MORE seriously.

    • pathlesstaken

      Yes. What I can never understand is that when parents say, “I’m the parent, not the friend!” is that the assumption is a friend is somehow a bad thing… someone who’s going to get them into trouble, give insincere advice, encourage reckless behavior, etc. That’s not a friend. One person who always likes to argue this point with me says, “I’d much rather be the MOM and have them mad at me, than act like a friend and just say or do what they want to hear just so they like me.” That’s not a friend either! I think the problem here is that people don’t know the meaning of an actual friend.

  • Julie

    Awesome post! I just wrote my own post on Fb…I just felt it was time to make a statement totally different than that stalking post. My kids are 18, 20, and 23. Here is what I wrote with names withheld: I love my kids. I love how they get along, love and respect each other, and want to be around each other, and us. It’s awesome. And they are good, decent, nice people, and I expect them to be successful in life. It might not be easy, but they will figure it out. And what do you know? A liberal parenting style worked. I didn’t have to hunt them down, yell at them, hit them, put them on restriction or take away privileges left and right. I showed love and respect for them. I always thought of them as little people first, young but deserving of their say, not second-hand citizens where we had all the power and they had none. And yes, I am friends with them. I totally disagree with people who say you should not be friends with your kids. I’ve been great friends with my mom, for as long as I can remember, which is how it should be. She is awesome!!! And the way we raised our kids made for a more peaceful, loving home. It was far from perfect, and the kids were not perfect, and neither are/were we as parents. But I’ve enjoyed the ride, and feel good about how our lives are turning out. There are things I’d change like making them clean their room, but that’s minor. They had a good childhood, not much stress or anger, and are enjoying life over 18. Wish authoritarian parenting would die out. I love you (insert names of my kids and husband) Life is good!
    I added comments: Mellow parenting makes for mellow kids. Children learn what they live. If parents stress them out, they take it out on others. And it’s weird how so many
    parents are into punishing and lecturing their kids. Kids, like adults,
    often feel pretty badly on their own if they screw up, especially as
    they get older. Saying nothing goes a long way. It makes them be respon
    sible
    for feeling bad. When you punish them, it also exonerates them. They
    look to someone else to punish them so it’s over. It’s actually better
    to let them deal with it themselves…natural consequences! I see many parents thinking it’s like the 50s still, or yelling/hitting/belittling, etc., it drives me crazy. They have an old-fashioned notion childhood should be hard, or parents
    know everything, or kids should obey blindly and respect elders even
    when they don’t deserve it, or if it was good enough for them, it’s good
    enough for their kids. Or how about: I lived through it and wouldn’t be
    the person I am today unless they had that exact relationship.
    Machavellian thinking. The ends do not always justify the means. And
    then they wonder why their lives are not happy, or why their kids get
    out of line, or even worse, why they really rebel at some point. I am
    for peaceful, kind existence with your own family. Lots of people are
    kinder to everyone except those closest to them. And I know I fall short
    in many ways. But this is still my philosophy and what I strive to put
    forward, and after 23 years of parenting and seeing how it’s worked out,
    I decided I’m allowed to rant a little.

    • Julie

      I found your website after I made my post. Bravo!

  • Gala522

    I hope you can still say this when your children are teenagers. More power to you!

    • pathlesstaken

      I have a soon to be 16 year old, and a 12 year old who is coming up right behind him. And yes, I can still say this. :)

  • stacey

    I love the original. You must not have teenagers, yet.

    • http://www.jennifermcgrail.com/ pathlesstaken

      Actually I have one 16 year old, and one soon to be 13 year old. :)

  • Tammy McAbee Brookover

    Your version is great….but trust me…tweens and teens still hear the first version even when you are saying your own version.

  • You have not a clue…

    My mother was my friend.. I can’t tell you how many times I just wanted her to be my mother.. My husband was my step sons friend, I can’t tell you how many times he just wanted a father..
    Its a fine line and from my own personal expearance.. I really rather of had a mother..

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  • Evan

    I am 14 and I have a overbearing control freak mother and I genuinely hate her for it. I have read some comments and I agree with a lot of them. My parents are split and have been since I was around one years old. And the two different promises in this post are my parents. My dad is a great parent, he is always my parent AND my friend. I come to him with everything. He gives me advice from the mistakes he made in life so that I don’t make the same ones because he loves me and he wants better for me. Unfortunately I live primarily with my mom. Who I am disgusted with. The way I found this “Promise to my children” is because I found it taped to my door when I came home from school. I think she did this because she is trying to justify her terrible parenting techniques. I resent her for all the mental abuse she has put me through because she is a control freak who does stalk me and does hunt me down like a blood hound. I think I understand this post quite well since I have a parent for both types and I can see the differences and the first promise (the controlling one) doesn’t work. And my dad who uses the second promise (the more friendly one) is the only parent who I really love because he isn’t overbearing and controlling and crazy about things. And I do think people are taking the whole “friend” thing the wrong way. A friend is someone who you care about and who cares about you. Not someone who will go and make irresponsible decisions. I don’t know. I’m no expert. But I have the kids perspective and I know I don’t have to be lorded over in order to be trusted. And I have a lot of resentment towards my mom because of how she made me feel anxiety and such. But that’s just my personal experience. Everyone’s different.

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  • hannah promise

    I have been rejected by my husband after 8 years of marriage just because another woman and he left me and the kid to suffer. One day when i was reading through the web, i saw a post on how this spell caster on this address Dr ukpoyan a spell caster.have helped a woman to get back her husband and i gave him a reply to his email address dr.ukpoyanspellhome@gmail.com and he told me that a woman casted a spell on my husband and he told me that he will help me and after 2 days that i will have my husband back. I believed him because of his polite approach and sincerity and today i am glad to let you all know that this spell caster have the power to bring lovers back because i am now happy with my husband.

  • Mrs Joyce Patrick

    I am Mrs Joyce Patrick from Canada, I have great joy in me as i am writing this testimony about the great man called Dr.Ekpiku When my lover left me i never taught that i will be able to get him back after all he has put me through, But i am so happy that after the interference of Dr.Ekpiku i was able to get my lover back after 24hours and i can proudly to say, that who ever need help in getting there lover back should contact Dr.Ekpiku on these contact details below Ekpikuspelltemple@live.com for proper understanding of what i have just witness. And i promise that he will help you as he help me.

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