An Open Letter to Parents from Dr. Meg

Every parent wants to know they’re doing the best job they can, but the trick to being the parent your kids need is simpler than you think.
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Last Updated
April 22, 2019
posted on
December 13, 2016
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3
Minute Read

Parenting is hard. And it is exhausting. You care for your child the best you can by making sure he has what he needs and that he gets where he needs to go. You enroll him in the best school and the program that nurtures his talents. You discipline him and have those difficult conversations. You pour your heart and soul into this child and make the best choices you can about everything from car seats to college.

Dear Parents,

Parenting is hard. And it is exhausting. You care for your child the best you can by making sure he has what he needs and that he gets where he needs to go. You enroll him in the best school and the program that nurtures his talents. You discipline him and have those difficult conversations. You pour your heart and soul into this child and make the best choices you can about everything from car seats to college.

And the entire time you wonder, “Am I doing it right?”

My message to you no matter what stage of parenting you are in …simplify. When it comes to what a child needs and wants, the answer is always the same. Son or daughter, teen or toddler, what your child really wants, is you. It’s that simple.

How do I know this?

Because your kids have told me.

Over the past 30 years in my practice, I have heard them say things about you that would knock your socks off. Things like: you worry too much, you work too hard, laugh too little and obsess about your weight for no good reason.

Your kids know you and guess what? (I hope you’re sitting down for this!) They like you.

Want to know a big secret? Your kids actually like you! 

Yes, they do. They like you probably more than you like yourself. Did you know that? They don’t care that the house is messy, that you got a raise at work, that you had a fight with a coworker or that you can’t stand your mother-in-law. They like you because of who you are. And they just want a little more of you.

They love it when you are relaxed and aren’t constantly running errands, calling friends back on the phone, glued to your phone, going to the gym at 6 a.m. or 7 p.m., and worrying about every little thing.

When it comes to their relationship with you, kids are extraordinarily simple people. They want to make a memory with you. They want to spend time with you. They want to know that you love them, that you like them, and that they are worth your time and attention.

The biggest problem each and every one of us parents struggles with is this: We just don’t understand that our kids would want us as much as they do.

I know it seems unreasonable to us mothers that our kids would want time with us. Heck, many of us don’t even want to be with ourselves, so we wonder, why would our kids?

Fathers, too, can’t wrap their minds around the notion that their son or daughter could care less what job they have, how much money they make or what car they drive, and that the same son or daughter simply wants them. Time, chatter, a bike ride, a silly joke, laughter or a warm smile.

I want to encourage you to take a lesson from your kids: learn to see yourself the way they see you. When we see mistakes, incompetence, insecurities, inadequacies, shortcomings or failure, they see a mom or dad they want to love and be loved by. That’s it.

When I write and speak about parenting, everything I say is based on the truth that kids want and need to feel connected to their parents. My experience, along with the best studies available, tells us that the most important thing you can do to make sure your child is successful in life is to be connected to him.

But how do you this? How do you develop a strong connection with your child?

I’ve spent the last 15 years writing, researching and listening attentively to my patients to find out exactly what you—or any parent—can do to make sure your kids turn out well and stay close to you. Then, I put this knowledge into a series of parenting resources that I designed specifically for you.

You have already figured this out by now, but if not… SPOILER ALERT! You don’t get in shape by eating one salad or going to the gym one time. Athletes don’t win games by practicing one time. Great musicians don’t hone their craft by taking one lesson. And so it is with parenting.

SPOILER ALERT! Raising a great kid won't happen by reading one book or blog. You must go deeper.

Being a great parent to a great kid won’t happen by reading one book. Or attending one seminar. Or listening to one podcast. You must make a commitment to go deeper and equip yourself with the tools you need for the journey. This is why I’ve poured all I’ve learned and come to understand what it takes to raise great kids into resources like The 12 Principles Of Raising Great Kids and many others.

What your child cares about most is you, and I know what you care most about is your child. Focus on that relationship, equip yourself with the tools you need and be encouraged by how simple great parenting can really be.

You can do this, parents. And I believe in you!

Dr. Meg Meeker, MD

Practicing pediatrician, parent, grandparent, coach, speaker, and author. Say hello @MegMeekerMD

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