To: All Parents [and Employers and Managers]
From: Your Child [Employee]
Date: The present time
1. Don't spoil me. I know quite well that I ought not to have all I ask for. I'm only testing you.
2. Don't be afraid to be firm with me.I prefer it; it lets me know where I stand.
3. Don't use force with me. It teaches me that power is all that counts; I will respond more readily to being led.
4. Don't be inconsistent. It confuses me and makes me try harder to get away with everything that I can.
5. Don't make promises you cannot keep them. It will discourage my trust in you.
6. Don't fall for my provocations when I say and do things just to upset you. Then I will try for more such "victories".
7. 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.
8. Don't make me feel smaller than I am. I will make up for it by behaving like a "big shot".
9. Don't do things for me that I can do for myself. It makes me feel like a baby and I may continue to put you in my service.
10. Don't correct me in front of people. I'll take much more notice when you talk quietly with me in private.
11. 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’s all right to take the action required, but let's not talk about it until later.
12. Don't try to preach to me. You’d be surprised how well I know what's right and wrong.
13. Don't make me feel that my mistakes are sins. I have to learn to make mistakes without feeling that I am no good.
14. Don't nag. When you do, I shall have to protect myself by appearing deaf.
15. Don't demand explanations for my wrong behavior. I really don't know why I did it.
16. Don't tax my honesty too much. I am easily frightened into telling lies.
17. Don't forget that I love and use experimenting. I learn from it; so put up with it.
18. Don't take too much notice of my small ailments. I may learn to enjoy poor health when it gets me much attention.
19. Don't protect me from consequences. I need your guidance to learn from my experiences.
20. Don't put me off when I ask honest questions. When you continue to do so, you'll find that I'll stop asking and start seeking my information elsewhere.
21. Don't answer my "silly" or meaningless questions. I just want you to keep busy with me.
22. Don't ever think that it is beneath your dignity to apologize to me. An honest apology makes me feel surprisingly warm toward you.
23. Don't ever suggest that you are perfect or infallible. It gives me too much to live up to.
24. Don't worry about the little amount of time we spend together. It is HOW we spend it that counts.
25. Don't let my fears arouse your anxiety; then I shall be afraid. Show me courage instead.
26. Don't forget that I can't thrive without lots of understanding and encouragement. But I don't need to tell you that, do I?
Treat me with the respect you treat your friends, then I'll learn to be respectful, too. I learn more from a model than from a critic.
Remember: When you maximize your potential and you teach (by example) your children or employees to maximize theirs, everyone wins. When you don't, we all lose.
* Adapted from Memorandum from Your Child, author anonymous.
© MMV, Etienne A. Gibbs, MSW