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Essential Parenting Advice: What Your Child Needs You to Know

Whether you're going through a high-conflict divorce; raising your child(ren) as a single parent; adopting a child; parenting as a step-parent; parenting after a relocation; (all of these previous examples indicate added stressors) or parenting in the most secure and healthy situation, here is critical information that EVERY parent must know. Please share this with a parent that you know if you don't have children. They'll appreciate it.

"A Memorandum from a Child"

Don't spoil me.
I know quite well that I ought not to have all that I ask for. I am only testing you.

Don't be afraid to be firm with me.
I prefer it. It let's me know where I stand.

Don't be inconsistent.
That confuses me and makes me try harder to get away with everything I can.

Don't make promises; you may not be able to keep them.
That will discourage my trust in you.

Don't fall for my provocations 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 make me feel smaller than I am.
I will make up for it by behaving like a "big shot".

Don't do things for me that I can do myself.
It makes me feel like a baby, and I may continue to put you in my service.

Don't let my "bad habits" get me a lot of your attention.
It only encourages me to continue them.

Don't correct me in front of people.
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 conflict.
For some reason my hearing is not very good at this time and my cooperation is even worse. It is all right to take action required, but let's not talk about it until later.

Don't try to preach to me.
You'd be surprised how well I know what's right and wrong.

Don't make me feel that my mistakes are sins.
I have to learn to make mistakes without feeling that I am no good.

Don't nag.
If you do, I shall have to protect myself by appearing deaf.

Don't demand explanations for my wrong behavior.
Sometimes I really don't know why I did it.

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

Don't forget that I love to experiment.
I learn from it, so please put up with it.

Don't protect me from consequences.
I need to learn from experience.

Don't take too much notice of my small ailments.
I may learn to enjoy poor health if it gets me extra attention.

Don't answer "silly" or meaningless questions.
I just want you to keep busy with me.

Don't put me off when I ask HONEST questions.
If you do, you will find that I stop asking and seek my information elsewhere.

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 ever suggest that you are perfect or infallible.
It gives me too much to live up to.

Don't worry about the little amount of time we spend together.
It is how we spend it that counts.

Don't let my fears arouse your anxiety.
Then I will become more afraid. Show me courage.

Don't forget that I can't thrive without lots of understanding and encouragement,
but complimentary approval when honestly earned is sometimes forgotten when it seems like a scolding never is.

Treat me the way you treat friends, then I will be your friend too.
Remember, I learn more from a model than a critic.

(adapted from Dr. Glasser's Schools without Failure)

I'll add these for children of divorce...

Don't insult my other parent.
It makes me feel unsafe and fear that you don't like me because I am half of them.

Don't make me choose between you and my other parent.
It tears me up inside and makes me feel like I'm in a war that I cannot win. I'm here because of both you. Choosing may force me to lie and manipulate in order to survive.

Take extra care of me through change.
I thrive with consistency. Disruptions and continued change cause harm to me, making it difficult for me to thrive and grow.

Please remember all the changes I am going through and take care of me without expecting me to take care of you.
I am constantly growing and having body aches. My brain is on overdrive as I learn at school and in everyday activities. These changes are happening so rapidly that I can get exhausted, leaving me little energy or know-how to parent you, so please parent me.

Don't fight and battle with my other parent.
Nonstop battles scare me and lead me to regress, get depressed, withdrawal or act, out and give me lasting wounds that are similar to a soldier at battle...especially because I'm not grown up enough to understand it or take care of myself through it. I need both of you to focus on me, not your resentments toward each other.

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