Dear Mom and Dad,
Remember when I was born and you were so excited to meet me. Remember how much you loved me and thought I was so amazing. Please remember those feelings as I grow up and become a teenager. I know there will be times when I disappoint you or when you are so tired that the last thing you want to do is deal with my issues but I need you to keep loving me even then and keep parenting me.
When I am little, I need you to set routines and put structures in place so that I can feel safe and grow into the person I am meant to be. I know that these routines and structures can be time consuming but I need them to feel secure at home. I need some consistency in my life especially after a chaotic day at school.
I need you to teach me how to express myself and then I need you to really listen to me when I need to talk. When you listen to me, I feel valued. It makes me feel like I matter. But you must really listen. Put down the phone or the laundry and really look at me and make me feel like you are really present. I need to talk especially during the teenage years. I don’t need you to fix things. I just need you to listen. If you don’t listen, I will find someone else to do it like a friend or a teacher but I want it to be you.
Although I don’t like getting in trouble or being punished, I need you to discipline me when I mess up. Throughout my life, I need to learn what is right and wrong so I can grow up to be a good law abiding citizen. But remember these are teachable moments. Don’t overreact or make me feel bad about myself. Remind me often, I did a bad thing but I am not a bad person. I really hope that when you discipline me you don’t hurt me because you are angry. If you hit me or use physical punishment, I will fear you. I don’t want to be afraid of you. I need to respect you and know you care. So when I mess up or I am out of control, put me in timeout so I can learn to calm myself down and reflect on my behavior. Talk to me afterwards about how I can improve so I learn what the expectations are. I behave better when I know what is expected of me. When I am a teenager, you may have to take my phone or something I care about away to get my attention and discipline me. I may not like it at the time but it will get my attention. I may seem really angry with you but I am angry with myself for messing up. I need to learn.
I want to be successful in school so read to me when I am young and instill a love of learning in me. If I know how to read and think outside the box, I will do well in school. If I do well in school, then I will like it. I am going to spend a lot of time in school so I want to be successful and like it. Help me do that even if you didn’t like it or do well. Give me a spark at an early age to want to learn and be inquisitive.
I want to spend time with you even if I don’t act like it, especially in the teenage years. I want to have dinner with you and check in. When the day goes by and I have not spent time with you, I feel lonely and vulnerable. I need my family time. Lets have fun playing games, starting traditions and laughing together. Let me see you play and be silly. Build these memories with me and when I am older I will want to continue doing them with you.
Know I will make mistakes. That is how I learn. You need to give me experiences and allow me to make choices in my life so I can learn to be responsible. Guide me and teach me but at some point let me find my independence. Along the way, I may mess up but I can learn valuable lessons from these situations. Make sure I know that no matter how bad I mess up, you will love me and be there for me. I know I need consequences for messing up but teach me that there is a lesson to learn in all these mistakes. Tell me that there is nothing we as a family can’t overcome. I know you will make mistakes too so it is ok to just let me know when you mess up and teach me about apologies in that instance.
I need you both to take time away from me to keep your marriage strong. The family unit is so important to me. I want you to be together but when you yell at each other, it scares me. I know you may fight but please understand I am scared. Teach me it is ok to respectfully disagree and that you will be fine. If you can’t be together because you hurt each other, I will be sad. I want you to be together. If you truly can’t be together, I need you to help me understand it is not my fault. If you are going to break up the family, please don’t continue to fight. It defeats the purpose. Be there for me. Whether you are together or divorced, you both need to be on the same page in my parenting or I will find ways to play you off each other. I am not proud of it, but it works and I usually get what I want from one of you.
We are all different. I am not my sibling. I am a unique individual that God created. Help me learn to love myself as God made me. I can’t be your dream of me. I have to be me. I know you had this image of me when I was born and I want to live up to your expectations, but I have to be true to myself to be who I am meant to be. If I try so hard to meet your requirements, I am lost and sad. I have to be me. Love me for who I am. Guide me and teach me morals and help me develop good character but at some point accept me for who I am.
I really do want to make you proud. I want so desperately for you to love me but when you set such high expectations, I don’t feel good enough. It is hard going through life not feeling good enough. Remind me I am enough and even better, that I am amazing.
Teach me to make friends, get involved in sport or other interests to I can grow up to have those close connections that make life fun and enjoyable. Teach me to have good character and show me how to get along with others. I am watching you to learn these things. I am watching how you live your life and I will do my best to be just like you. So watch what you say and how you act. I am always watching you. Your words are important but your actions teach me more. If you want me to be kind, be kind. If you want me to be responsible, you need to be responsible.
I need you to parent me and not try to be my friend. You can be my friend when I am older and on my own as an adult. I know when I am little, you are exhausted and it seems like you will never have a life but before you know it I will be grown up and gone. Be the best parent you can be so I can turn out to be the best person I can be. All I ask is that you do your best. I want to grow up to be an adult you enjoy being around.
You are the two most important people in my life through my childhood. No one can really replace you so please be there for me. It is important to me that you tell me you love me, but it is the actions and things you do that make me truly feel loved.