I’ve cringed as I’ve watched a rampant meme gallop across the status updates of my mom-squad Facebook friends the last couple of weeks. It’s a Promise To My Children that sounds more like a controlling and paranoid manifesto. It concludes, as memes do, with an imperative that I re-post if I love my children.

I love my children more than life itself and so this is my promise to them.

I am your mother and I am your best friend. There is nothing that you can confide in me that will make me love you any less. I’ve changed your diapers and I’ve seen your underwear before putting it in the washer, and I’ve loved you anyway. You need not be embarrassed to share your hopes, your goals, your failures, or your knuckle-headed, hormone induced woopsies. As hard as you may find it to believe, I’ve been your age. And as much as you’re going to hate to hear this, kids haven’t changed that much. When you confide in me, I’m probably going to have some very valuable advice for you, but when I don’t, you’ll still have someone holding your hand who loves you unconditionally.
But I respect you, too. I know that you’re your own person and are not obligated to share everything with any one person, including the woman who grew you those two legs that give you the freedom to go and do as you please. You are entitled to live your life and to have your privacy. I will never snoop just so I can know who you kissed last week. When my mommy instinct kicks and tells me there is a reason to worry, I will ask you first. It’s in your best interest to be honest, because at that point all bets are off and I will find out what is going on. I will never stand by and let you harm yourself or others, but there are some mistakes I will let you make because experience is the best teacher.
When you love and respect yourself, you will surround yourself with other people who will love and respect you the way that I do. And when I see you treat others with love and respect I will know that you are a responsible human. However, until you pay your own bills I’ll not consider you a responsible adult.