Memo from Child to Parents


The above appeared in an ad in the New York Times on March 26, 1988. The writer is unknown. It was reprinted in an editorial by the late Dr. Frank Oski, former Chairman of Pediatrics at Johns Hopkins University, in the December 1988 issue of Contemporary Pediatrics. Dr. Oski was always one of my “heroes”, and I feel this contains important messages for all parents. I hope you enjoy it. – daa

Dear Mom & Dad,

    • Don’t spoil me. I know quite well that I ought not to have all I ask for – I’m only testing you.


    • Don’t be afraid to be firm with me. I prefer it. It makes me feel secure.


    • Don’t let me form bad habits. I have to rely on you to detect them in the early stages.


    • Don’t make me feel smaller than I am. It only makes me behave stupidly “big”.


    • Don’t correct me in front of people if you can help it.


    • Don’t make me feel that my mistakes are sins. It upsets my sense of values.


    • Don’t protect me from consequences. I need to learn the painful way sometimes.


    • Don’t be too upset when I say, “I hate you”. It isn’t you I hate but your power to
      thwart me.


    • Don’t take too much notice of my small ailments. Sometimes they get me the attention I need.


    • Don’t nag. If you do, I’ll have to protect myself by appearing deaf.


    • Don’t forget that I cannot explain myself as well as I’d like. That is why I’m not always accurate.


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


    • Don’t be inconsistent. That confuses me and makes me lose faith in you.


    • Don’t tell me my fears are silly. They are real to me, and you can do much to reassure me if you try to understand.


    • Don’t ever suggest you are perfect or infallible. It hurts and disappoints me when I learn 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 towards you.


    • Don’t forget that I love experimenting. I couldn’t get along without it; so please put up with it, within limits.


    • Don’t forget how quickly I an growing up. It must be very difficult for you to keep pace with me, but please do try.


    • Don’t forget that I don’t thrive without lots of love and understanding.


    • Please keep yourself safe, fit, and healthy. I need you and I love you.