Dear Mommy and Daddy,
I may be small, but I am a human being, entitled to the right of life, liberty, and freedom of speech, just like you are. You are very aware of your rights; but are you aware of mine? Here are some reminders for when you’re tempted to violate my G-d given rights.
I have the right to start my day off with a smile. You’re not allowed to wake me up with yelling, insults, and threats. I am entitled to a pleasant “Good morning, my love.” There shall be no pulling off of the covers and dragging me out of bed. There shall be no forceful brushing of my teeth as I cry helplessly. You are never allowed, under any circumstances, to hit me because I’m moving too slow. I am entitled to a delicious breakfast, and do not deserve to be shoved out the door without putting anything in my hungry stomach.
I have the right to have a good day at school. Mommy, Daddy, how am I supposed to focus on my schoolwork when all I can think about was the war we just had at home? How can I hear the teacher’s voice when I still have your screams ringing in my ears? I just can’t focus properly when I’m still shaking from the way you threw me out the door. How can you expect me to be motivated to get good grades when I’m so angry with you? There are many kids who make fun of me in school; I have a right to look forward to coming home to your loving arms and understanding smile, so I can tell you all about my difficult day. Instead, I’m coming home to a house of bullies.
I have the right to a pleasant afternoon. When I come home from school, I don’t want to be interrogated and insulted. Mommy, do you understand that I need time to unwind from my stressful day, just like you do? I can’t handle being forcefully placed in front of my homework without a short while of just relaxing and playing. It’s not fair. What I need when I come home is a big hug and a warm snack. A cup of hot chocolate would be nice- you can even put a few cookies on the side. I want to look forward to coming home, but I dread it just as much as I dread facing the same taunting kids every day. I need a break, Mommy and Daddy! I need you to just be there for me, and to understand that I have hard days, too. Once I’m happy and settled, it will be so much easier for me to focus on my homework. But please, give me a chance to play awhile first. And when I need your help with homework, please, please don’t insult me and yell at me. I’m only a child! I just need your help, not your aggravation. Try to be more understanding when you see that I’m having a hard time understanding something.
I have the right to family time. Daddy, when you come home, many times you’re grumpy and tired. Do you know that I spend all day looking forward to that magical moment when you walk through the door, so I can run to you and give you a big hug? But many times you barely grunt a “hello” before you sit down to eat something. Do you know how it breaks my heart? I feel like a balloon that has been pierced with a needle. Daddy, there’s nothing more I would love than to sit on your lap, wrapped up in your big strong arms, while you read me a story or let me tell you about my day. How am I supposed to want a relationship with you when I’m a teenager and need your guidance more than ever? If you don’t spend the time with me now, Mommy and Daddy, I won’t want you to spend time with me later.
I have the right to a warm, cozy dinner. Mommy, do you know that I can feel your love when you cook for me? Warming up a pizza or giving me cereal is okay once in a while, but I really need more home-cooked meals. When was the last time you asked me what my favorite food was? Did you know that I love pasta with melted cheese on top, and fried eggs with ketchup? And Mommy, please, please, don’t force me to eat something that I really hate just because you think it’s healthy. There are plenty of fruits and vegetables you can give me as a side dish; just try harder to make it more interesting, like making a smiley face from tomato and pepper slices, or ants on a log from cream cheese with raisins on top of celery sticks. Even if I don’t eat the healthy stuff, don’t scream at me. It’s much more poisonous for me than too much pasta.
I have the right to a happy bedtime routine. That means no screaming at me to get in the bath, brush my teeth, and get to bed. I know that I have to do these things, but I’m a kid, and kids just don’t like to go to bed! How do you think that by screaming at me, you’re going to help things? You just make me want to listen to you even less! Mommy, if you started bath time earlier, I would really enjoy being able to play a bit more. You could ask me to bring my favorite bath-friendly toy and make extra high bubbles for me. You could even bring a radio into the bathroom and play music for me- that would be super duper fun! After at least 20 minutes in a warm bath, I’m sure that I’ll be sleepy enough for bed. I know that I’ll fight with you a lot less if you just don’t pressure me so much! And when I finally do get in bed, don’t just turn off the lights and leave me. Many times I’m scared of the monsters that come to visit me- I think if you were with me, they would leave me alone. I think monsters are scared of Mommies and Daddies. If I knew you were going to lay in bed with me and tell me a story, I would be so excited to go to bed! Do you know how safe I would feel if I got to fall asleep with you still in the room? And don’t forget to say the Shema Yisrael with me, to keep all the nightmares away! With a nighttime routine like this, I’ll wake up happy and refreshed, not groggy and sad.
I have the right to my side of the story. When you guys were kids, you fought a lot. Please, never ever punish me until you give me a fair chance to tell you my side of the story. If you went to court, you would have that right- I also deserve a listening and unbiased ear.
I have the right to unconditional love. Mommy, Daddy - everyone does things they’re not proud of. Everyone makes mistakes. The most important thing is that, even though I know you’re going to mess up many times, you’ll still show me that you love me no matter what. That is what I need the most. Even when I do things to make you really, really mad, I still need you to keep it inside and don’t lash out on me. I’m only a child! I’m a delicate soul, and you can break me so easily. I know deep down that you love me so much, so please try your best to control your anger. It kills me inside when you scream at me or hit me. I don’t want to hate you. I want and need to love you!
Thank you for reading this, and please put it up on the refrigerator so you can review it all the time!
Your Gift From G-d
p.s.- Rav Shalom Arush told me that good parenting is not something that’s second nature to most people. Read “Education with Love” and be the best parents that you can be - for my sake and for yours, too!