The Operating Manual for the Self tm
A Memo from your Child
Imagine that your child has written you a memo about how he or she would like to be raised. This is what it might look like.
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. That confuses me and makes me try to get away with everything that I can.
5. Don’t make promises; you may not be able to keep them. That 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’ll try for other 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 let my “bad habits” get me a lot of your attention. It only encourages me to continue them.
11. Don’t correct me in front of people. I’ll take much more notice if you talk quietly with me in private.
12. Don’t try to discuss my behavior in the heat of a 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 the action required, but let’s not talk about it until later.
13. Don’t try to preach to me. You’d be surprised how well I know what’s right and wrong.
14. Don’t make me feel that my mistakes are sins. I have to learn to make mistakes without feeling that I am no good.
15. Don’t nag. If you do, Shall have to protect myself by appearing deaf.
16. Don’t demand explanations for my wrong behavior. I really don’t know why I did that.
17. Don’t tax my honesty too much. I am easily frightened into telling lies.
18. Don’t forget that I love and use experimenting. I learn from it so please put up with it.
19. Don’t protect me from consequences. I need to learn from experience.
20. Don’t take too much notice of my small ailments. I may learn to enjoy poor health if it gets me much attention.
21. Don’t put me off when I ask HONEST questions. If you do, you will find that I stop asking and seek my information else where.
22. Don’t answer “silly” or meaningless questions. I just want to keep you busy with me.
23. Don’t ever think that it is beneath your dignity to apologize to me. An honest apology makes me feel surprisingly warm toward you.
24. Don’t ever suggest that you are perfect or infallible. It gives me too much to live up to.
25. Don’t worry about the little amount of time we spend together. It is how we spend it that counts.
26. Don’t let my fears arouse your anxiety. Then I will become more afraid. Show me courage.
27. 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?