The holidays are only days away! In the hustle and bustle of the season and wanting everything to be perfect, sometimes we overlook the things that are most important to us…like family. In this article from December 2013, NCES president Carole Richards shares a letter and some thoughtful insights. Enjoy!
As parents, we worry that we do the right things with and for our children. In this world of busy families … work, school, outside activities, technology and much more, we worry that we don’t spend enough time with our children. We need to buy things for them or offer them more activities to make up for this lack of time.
I think this letter puts it all into perspective. It’s not the time we spend with our kids, but how we spend it. My grandmother always said, “No instructions come with the package.” I believe it takes more to raise children in today’s complex world. We wish you a happy and healthy 2014 and hope this letter will bring an insight or two into the wonderful yet challenging role as a parent.
Dear Mom and Dad,
I know you love me and how much you want me to be the best in everything I do. But, we both know no one is perfect. I can’t do everything right. Let me learn some things the hard way. You and Dad have told me stories about how you learned the hard way. That’s why I’ve written some suggestions for you to remember the next time I say something wrong, or do something stupid. Yes, I am trying hard and will keep trying. Please remember that none of us are perfect and will never be perfect no matter how much you and I try.
Don’t spoil me. I know quite well that I don’t need everything I ask for.
Don’t be afraid to be firm with me. I prefer it. It makes me feel more secure.
Don’t let me form bad habits. I have to rely on you to detect them in the early stages.
Don’t do for me what I can do for myself. It makes me feel smaller than I am.
Don’t correct me in front of other people if you can help it. I’ll take much more notice if you talk quietly with me in private.
Don’t try to discuss my behavior in the heat of the situation. For some reason, my hearing is not very good at this time and my co-operation even worse. It’s alright to take the action required, but let’s not talk about it until later.
Don’t make me feel that my mistakes are sins. It upsets my sense of values.
Don’t be too upset when I say “I hate you.” I don’t mean it, but 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 nag. If you do I shall have to protect myself by acting deaf.
Don’t make promises you can’t keep. Remember that I feel badly when promises are broken.
Don’t forget that I cannot explain myself as well as I would like. That is onereason why I am not accurate.
Don’t test my honesty too much. I can be easily frightened into telling lies.
Don’t be inconsistent. That completely confuses me and makes me lose faith in your guidance.
Don’t put me off when I ask questions for information. If you do, you will find that I stop asking and seek information elsewhere. If I ask questions for attention, that is a different matter.
Don’t ever suggest that you are perfect or infallible. It gives me too great a shock when I discover that you are neither.
Don’t ever think that it is beneath your dignity to apologize to me. An honest apology makes me feel surprisingly warm toward you.
Don’t forget how quickly I am growing up. It must be very difficult for you to keep pace with me, but please try.
Don’t use force with me. I will respond more readily to being led.
Don’t worry about the amount of time we spend together. It is how we spend it that counts.
Don’t forget that I can’t thrive without lots of love and understanding, but I don’t need to tell you that, do I? (Author unknown)
During the Holiday Season, we seem to have some time for reflection. I’m passing this along to you in hopes that it will help you improve your relationship with your children. It has helped me.
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Carole Richards is president and founder of North Coast Tutoring Services, executive director of the Creative Education Institute (who holds is annual Academic Fun & Fitness Camp at Lakeland Community College), and a frequent guest on radio and TV. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.