An open letter to my children; you’re not that great. 

I love you each.

You’re funny. And talented. But as I sit in this dance recital I am holding a foster baby that is in our home for the weekend and I am witnessing an American atrocity that I want you to remember.

And it is not a drug addicted baby.
In the row ahead of me a family has taken hot pink duct tape and marked off 22 seats. We were specifically told not to do this at the informational meeting. Please, always follow the rules.  They count off “new-naw, pawpaw, auntie Laurie, auntie Bitsy, Carl-baby, daddy, bubba, Unkie-Mikie, hankie…” These nicknames, while odd are also not the issue, but don’t nickname me when I am old.  It’s getting embarrassing. The two woman marking off seats are oblivious to everyone around them. “Unkie-Mikey” just entered the auditorium with an enormous balloon bouquet.  I am able to quickly conclude that they are the family of the infamous Kkyylliiee on page 3 of the recital program. She has a full page ad. She’s 5.  The dead giveaway is that all of them have on pink t-shirts that say “we hope you dance KKyylliiee“.  Don’t ruin songs for people by making silly t-shirts with the lyrics. The ad has Kkyylliiee in her recital costume in a professional portrait for the occasion.  I am over the moon to see this chubby kindergartener perform, if only I could see over the balloons – and the camera equipment they are now setting up. Obviously Kkyylliiee  must be quite talented & very special because she needed two of every letter to spell her name. As someone whose name has been missing an “e” in my spelling  her entire life I covet her vowels.  Dear Mary, John, Luke, Sophie, Sam and any others we may have the priveledge of raising, you will love your children like nothing you can fathom.  Name them wisely – otherwise they will never have a personalized pencil from the museum gift shops on field trips.


Kkyylliiee enters with another “Auntie” and two suitcases so that “Maw-Maw” can do her makeup.  “Nee-naw” brings McDonald’s for the whole clan.  I can’t help but remember the sign clearly stated outside “NO FOOD OR DRINK.”  Again I say – just follow the rules. Yes. They apply to you.

I can’t stop watching the insanity and as I compose this in my head – I make a mental note to myself to write this to you… My dear Americanized children, you aren’t above the rules and you aren’t that great …  I am not sorry if you felt less than your peers because I forgot to turn in the form for you to be highlighted in a program.

As much as it hurts me – feel less than. Esteem not yourself. Feel lonely. Feel unworthy. Feel unaccomplished. Feel small. Feel lost. Feel broken.

Feel least.

For if you believe you are greater than, your father and I have failed miserably.  Among the broken you will find Christ. My prayer for you is that you see Him everywhere. There’s no where to go but down if we as a society continue to treat  mediocrity as mighty. If you are never uncomfortable, weary, left out and un-praised how will you recognize the desolate? And if you are never desolate how will you recognize how much you need a Savior?


I will continue to put pictures of you on Facebook and brag about you. I will still cut the crust off your sandwiches – and bring you sonic slushes for no reason.  It is my mommy nature – but I pray I never make you feel you are more than those around you.  My prayer for you is that you came to serve, not be served.  I may not like the way it wears on you, but it’s not about you.


Ah, and most importantly I pray you are wise enough to recognize the broken among the esteemed.  We well meaning and proud parents have created the monsters.  You have to see the tragedy of the poor and the crack addicted; the baby who may never have a recital portrait taken or her name in lights.  And it is sad.  But it is also sad to learn too late you aren’t that great.

The last shall be first – the first shall be last.

All this to be said… Sophie, I forgot flowers for you after the recital. You did a really good job, but don’t quit school to pursue a career in dance baby girl.  I wasn’t lying to any of you when I said I was proud of your C- paper. If you tried – If you cared and that is how you were graded – bravo.  Work hard, be willing to get dirty, give away your lunch or your last dollar, sit with the lonely, stand up for injustice, follow the rules, walk through the fire… You’re doing just fine.

Love, Mom

My response to the haters….

http://sacredgroundstickyfloors.com/2015/09/30/and-then-a-riot-broke-out-in-target/

About jamiamerine

I am a wife, mom, & seeker of joy! I love to share funny and inspirational tales with my fellow moms. I fully believe that God intended laughter to be a form of rest and worship. I have a few kids. I have a few years on me. I have a great husband. And I love to laugh. I studied home economics in college, I can cook just about anything, but do not ask me to sew. In my graduate work I studied education and human development, I consider my life continuing education, my children are my ongoing thesis. If they survive that, I will let you know! I write non-fiction for laughter, respite, and inspiration. I also am in the process of submitting my first fiction mystery and have two more in the works! Mom life is hard work. My prayer for my readers is that, even if it you just have five minutes, you can be inspired and encouraged today. Keep it short and sweet... rest in Jesus girlfriend.
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412 Responses to An open letter to my children; you’re not that great. 

  1. apkfrog says:

    thank you
    Fantastic blog
    Good luck to you
    ___

    Like

    • jamiamerine says:

      Thanks friend ❤️

      Like

      • I’m 47 years old and have zero skills in technology or blogging or responding to a blog. I hope this finds its way to the author of “An open Letter to my Chikdrrn; you are not that great”. I absolutely loved it because it made me look at my adoptive children and wonder if I’ve been parenting or making expectations too high or too low. I find that my chikdren came from the worst conditions imaginable. My partner and I felt we had an obligation to make them feel as though they are great because of the conditions they came from. We over compinsated for their hardships in their formative years, prior to placement in our home. Then your blog made me see it differently and it helped me realize that I’m doing the best I can and that not everyone is going to accept my kids as great and we tried to make them believe they are. We struggled with our own family accepting them, and we found that our children are not considered that great when compared to my nephews and nieces. I found we struggled with biological issues and then your letter was thought provoking and made me look deep into the parameters we’ve established with raiding our kids. We basically wanted to make them think they are great and went overboard trying to get everyone to think they are. We are the junkies that tried to get the uncles and aunts and grandparents to welcome our chikdren and make them feel just as important and as great as the biological chikdren in our extended family. We were all wrong in thinking that. You gave me hope and a new outlook. I can’t make my chikdren be viewed as greater than, but I can make them know they are loved and that life isn’t fair and we make it what we want it to be. So if my kids don’t get the newest gane system or the recognition from the community or our extended family, then that’s perfect. I still don’t want my adoptive or foster chikdren to feel they are that ‘throw-away’ child, but that their lifes’ circumstances are set for reasons that are not in my control. Let Jesus and God lead the way I guess. Phew…. that burden is now off my plate…but, seriously, thank you for enlightening me to what we’ve been trying to be a part of. Now I realize we don’t need to be in that circle of ” my kids are that great “.

        Like

    • jane says:

      Yes, yes, and yes again! Thank you for being brave enough to write this.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Broken & Healed says:

    Thank you for writing this piece as it helps bring conversation and is thought provoking on how we raise our children. A lot of things boil down to parental pride. If our kids don’t make the grade, it’s the teacher’s fault. I’ve noticed this as a trend & have been guilty of the same. Perhaps the story seems unkind but it’s simply an example of how some families operate as well as a real issue at hand. Psychologically speaking, parents & grandparents are the way they are because of the way they grew up or how they were molded by events & lifetimes of choices they made. Maybe it was a ton of fun for those ladies to make shirts and all. Maybe it’s a kind of therapy for them. We should look at ourselves and figure out why we act the way we do. (Personally I can’t wait to spoil my grandchildren!) 🙂 We also don’t always see the whole picture & we jump to judge. (Maybe someone just lost a parent or is fighting a disease, etc.) However, narcissism is real in any part of the world, as we are all fallen sinners. Satan tempts us to think more highly of ourselves & our kids, as a means of distraction from God. May we all be humbled by Chriist to live as He did. I’m pretty sure He loves children & we should celebrate them as the amazing creation they are, as we teach them that they are also nothing without Christ. On the other side of the coin from narcissism, are children of abuse. May we not live at either extreme.

    Liked by 1 person

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  4. kier says:

    thank you. amen and amen.

    Like

  5. Yes, yes, and yes. My boys often struggle with the fact that they don’t live in an indulgent home with parents that think every terrible joke they crack is funny. But I pray that they are realizing that they’re not the center of our or anyone else’s universe. I pray that they are humble, generous, people loving boys. Prayers for you, Mama. Stay in the race, keep speaking truth, and keep raising your babies to know their true worth in Christ.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Angela says:

    THIS WAS ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC!!! THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Paula Powell says:

    Thank you so much for this! I love it!!!

    Like

  8. You know what I don’t get? Kindergarten graduation ceremonies, complete with cap and gown. These kids are still peeing their beds at night but we say “yay, you know your shapes and colors, you graduated the easiest and funnest grade of school you’ll ever have for the rest of your life, ever.” I have four sons by the way, all who finished kindergarten, none who participated in a silly ceremony to do so.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jamiamerine says:

      this made me laugh out loud!

      Like

    • missie says:

      Dude. Yes and amen.

      Like

    • charleaseangel says:

      We don’t have caps & gowns, but we do have a ceremony and as a mom and kindergarten teacher, I find your comment insulting – to me and my students…and to the nature of this article which was far deeper than your comment. We like to celebrate that our students finished the first of what we hope are many years of hard work. We celebrate that many of them come to us without shapes or colors or counting and stand on that stage in May as full-out readers, writers, and mathematicians. We print their high school graduation year on their tee-shirts because we want them to believe that this is the first year of their journey to graduating high school – some will be the first in their families to do so. We hope to give them a taste of what that success will feel like and plant that goal in mind. You are mistaken….they work hard. Yes, they play hard too, but they work very, very hard and we hope to instill in them the idea that after a period of hard work, you should celebrate -yourself and those around you….and then keep working hard…..

      Like

      • Megan Armstrong says:

        I agree 100%.

        Like

      • lawranch says:

        Well, you are way too easily insulted, then. Grow thicker skin. Many schools go so OVER-THE-TOP with the kindergarten graduation, and then parents like me…and apparently the writer of this blog, show up to watch our kid’s program, and are blown away by how rude and out of line other parents are. They stand up the whole time and hold their phone camera right in the way of everyone else behind them. They bring balloons, they bring 5 generations of family so that other PARENTS have to stand in the back…others talk the entire time EXCEPT for when their child is mentioned or walking, then it is insanity of cheering etc. for that child. It is too much for a kindergarten end of year program. Caps and gowns, balloons, graduation parties with bouncy castles…it is crazy. Yes. They work hard in kindergarten and are probably pushed too much over what they can developmentally handle. They probably don’t get enough music time or dancing time or time to be a child and build towers with blocks. I am not sure that we should be celebrating a child that went from not knowing the letters in his name to being able to read on a 1.7 reading level in kindergarten, because really..that means that child lost a lot of play time that he probably needed of developmental social time, and he would have learned to read just fine in first grade. He could learn to read just about any time between the ages of 3-8. I just wonder how this HUGE push to teach reading and multiplication too early is really hurting society more than it is helping the child. Because, according to the crowds at the kindergarten graduation, and at the dance recital, many parents have missed the part of being considerate to others, that we used to work hard at learning in kindergarten. I guess they were too busy learning how to read and be self-centered.

        Like

    • My daughter thought the pre-K ceremony for her daughter was ridiculous but when she asked the school director how much participation there usually was and the answer was 100%, she did not want her child to feel left out. So she went through with it. It is really just another way for the cap and gown companies to make money. Why there are so many graduations today? Each one takes away from the big one when you graduate from high school. They should be stopped.

      Like

  9. Andrea says:

    He has told you, O man (woman, child), what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8

    Liked by 1 person

  10. While so gut bustlingly funny! Also so spot on true!

    Like

  11. To every word you wrote… yes, yes, yes, and amen!

    Like

  12. I wholeheartedly agree with everything you said! I so often feel I’m the only “nice” mom who gives honest feedback to her kids. If you’re not telling your kids that every picture they draw, every song they sing is amazing, you’re not “supportive.” Thanks for keeping it real!

    Like

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  14. Ruth Ratz says:

    Excellent. We’ve raised a generation of self-centered, self indulgent young people, in the main. Thank goodness for many sensible parents of sensitive kids. “Have a sane estimation of yourself” – from God’s word, God’s wisdom.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Niki says:

    Amen and amen, sister! The whole thing about following the rules spoke to me loudest, although the whole thing screamed, “You would have thought the exact same things!”. What parent doesn’t fuss at a child for not following the rules and yet so many don’t do so themselves. We all fall short but let’s at least take better aim, right? Bless you, momma.

    Like

  16. Barb Haller says:

    Just came across your blog and mama, you nailed this one! I like your passion and your writing style. Whenever I’d get a little self-righteous, tempted to brag about our kids, my husband would bring me down and say “jury’s not out yet.” Well now it is. They’re in their 20’s and 30’s and they really are amazing and law-abiding and love the Lord. I’m 60 and IMO, unless your kids are grown you can’t really bash this post. And even then you shouldn’t.
    You’re right, Jami, children really can’t become compassionate, passionate Christ-followers if Mommy is puffing them up at every turn. Be humble. Love the unlovable. Admit your mistakes. Apologize. Obey the rules. Obey your mom and dad and teacher. And for Pete’s sake, take off your ball cap and don’t whistle at school orchestra concerts! (Pet peeve.)
    Thank you, Jami. Don’t worry about the haters. Keep writing. (It’s funny, people treat blogs like the op-ed page — spouting opinions left and right. It’s a BLOG, people. WEB-LOG. Opinions not needed, though I gave mine.)
    God bless.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. well written and to the point. Care for that younglin and teach her service is a good thing. 🙂

    Like

  18. Lorna Orick says:

    I’ve never gotten a pencil with my name on it either! Which is why I named my little girl, Rebecca, spelled the way the museum gift shops spell it. 😉

    Great post and so very true!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Teri Bench says:

    Can I be your best friend? I think we must have been separated at birth…except I could probably be your mom, but you’re awesome!

    Like

  20. Amy McMenamin says:

    The BEST article I have ever read on parenting! ” I can remember saying to our children, It’s not about you!” I couldn’t feel more unified with you on this one! Thank You for posting, Thank you for showing the reality in Christ, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you! Amy McMenamin

    Liked by 1 person

  21. charleaseangel says:

    I don’t know that I could add to anyone’s comments praising this – it is spot on….just spot on! I will be sharing! Thank you!

    Like

  22. TONI HARRISON says:

    Those are such lovely and touching words. I am a social work major and my field placement is at a TFC agency. Treatment Foster care is an eye opener. I’ve also been a volunteer with an awesome organization called CASA. These experiences have only highlighted what me and my husband would,teach our children who are now amazing adults. I would get aweful stares from extended family and hear obnoxious comments from strangers when I would say to my children……it’s not about you, it’s about others. I never strayed from that line or our teachings because our children would always and still do smile whenever I say that. They know and understand the joys and,purpose of being the best and giving the best on a daily basis. I am honored to know that my children hold onto those teachings.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Sylvia says:

    I totally agree with you. We are creating a society of children that think they are up there with God. We all love our kids and think they are great but to inflate their egos from the time they are old enough to comprehend what we are saying only gives them a wrong sense of who they are and who they are supposed to be in relation to God and their fellow man. It goes along with having all kids win at contests and sporting events because heaven forbid we hurt their self esteem. What will happen to these kids when they get out into the real world. . . they won’t be able to survive in the work world because they will feel that if they aren’t always applauded for every little thing they do, or if they aren’t the one to always be noticed and praised that life just isn’t fair. I believe those adults will end up going from job to job because obviously people at the previous job didn’t appreciate them and they will be on a pursuit to find the praise they so rightly deserved because that is what they have come to expect. After all, how could the world get along without their brilliance. I do believe that we are all here on this earth because God put us here and we all have a purpose but God wants us to all have humility and not put ourselves above our fellow man. You have posted quite an excellent piece and I am going to share it with my four daughters. I wish I would have posted such a heartfelt piece but I would have never done it so eloquently. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. gene says:

    Too true. Charlesangel is out of step of what is good for society, everyone is a winner just for being there, everyone gets a prize, a ribbon, an award even when no effort exists or no accomplishment. So children become adults expecting to get everything handed to them, welfare for life.

    Like

  25. Nikki says:

    I run a center for street kids here in The Philippines. And I loved this article with all my tired, weary little missionary heart. We get teams from the “first world”. I have had them reject our food, talk to my EXstreet children using words like “pitiful” and “bless your heart”,etc. But I have also had selfless, servant-heart, puke-cleaning, non-complaining, fish-head-eating American kids here. It can go so wrong or so right. Mom and Dad as well as a RIGHT view of scripture and who we are in Jesus make all the difference. Same culture. Same country. Different children. The peace and joy in those “less than” teens who serve with us just humbles me every time. I have to check my own heart when they are here because I am supposed to be leading by example but they are SLAYING me in the “selflessness” department.
    Anyway, thank you for articulating what I know to be true. 100%.

    Like

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  27. sally says:

    Brilliant article. I came here from England in my early 20’s and in my first year here I had to go to a kindergarten graduation. A WHAT? I had to get a degree to graduate anything in England! The culture of excess. I do love the celebratory spirit in this country but at times it is taken a little too far. ( I say “little” with tongue in cheek!) Keep writing, you are very talented!

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Deb says:

    I don’t believe in building children up so much that they have a hard time fitting their heads through the door. But I can’t help thinking how blessed Kylie is to have a family that loves her so much. I have a similar family. We had the matching t-shirts, the cameras, and the balloon bouquets at the recitals, the shows, and the graduations. We also had the matching t-shirts, the cameras, and the balloon bouquets during the cancer treatment, the funeral, and the anniversary memorials. I have watched many parents who have treated their kids quite the opposite and instill in their children that they aren’t special. The kids then look to fill that emptiness elsewhere. No, don’t build up your children so that they believe that they are impervious to being open to whatever the Lord desires for their lives. But, please, encourage them, make them feel special, surround them with love, and, by all means, feel free to celebrate with matching t-shirts. Kylie is blessed whether she realizes it now or not. She has a close-knit family that celebrates the little things and all 22 are there for the little things. One day Kylie will rest in the assurance that they will be there for the big things. Also, I did name my children wisely. They have very unique names and will never have a personal item from a museum. I tell them that they aren’t cookie-cutter children, and their names have significance rather than popularity.

    Like

    • Meg says:

      I needed to read a comment like this. Kylie is a very lucky girl and so are your kids!

      Like

    • Kellie M says:

      A caring and supportive family is wonderful to have and shouldn’t be mocked, I agree. But let’s remember how the family members of Kylie showed their love and support. They stuck duct tape to the chairs. Hopefully it peeled off easily. Who will stay and clean it if it leaves a sticky residue? They brought in food and drinks for all 22 caring family members plus Kylie. Not just a granola bar for a little energy boost for the dancer, which would have been breaking the rules but on a smaller more concientious scale, but for everyone! They set up their camera and balloon bouquet in the way of others in the audience. Couldn’t the balloons stay in the car or in the back until it’s over and then one of the 22 family members could go fetch it at the appropriate time? T-shirts don’t interfere with the enjoyment of the other audience members and don’t infringe on the rules, so that’s a perfectly acceptable way to show love and support if that’s what the family chooses. But the other factors? Look closely at how the family members carried out their love and support and I think you will see that there is an element of “the rules don’t apply to us- or to our little special Kkyylliiee, we’re too good for ‘those silly rules.’ Slap some more duct tape down on that chair and stick it good. Ok, who wants more soda? Do you want fries with that? Set those balloons up on the chair, we don’t want them to get dirty on the floor. Who cares if they float 3 feet up in the air?” These are the parts that the author is referring to, not the love and support given to the dancer.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Have you ever taken a moment to think how displays such as this might make other children feel?

      Like

  29. Felice Clark says:

    This post has some really great themes that I agree with! Sometimes, I forget to take a step back and analyze how God would want me to love those people, those families that think their child is above others. Someone commented earlier about that we don’t really know where that family was coming from in terms of why they were doting on their child or why they wanted to wear matching t-shirts. It’s easy to judge motives and feel like they have superficial intentions. God has been weighing on my heart to try and see these families as he would. To show humility and love in spite of their attitudes and actions. And to continue to strive to seek God in raising my children and surrendering them before God. I can easily fall into the social norms of wanting my children to be amazing and perfect even when I know that perfection leads to self judgment and lots of other inadequacies. I loved how you said their has to be balance and I know for myself that I found Jesus in the midst of despair, loneliness and when I didn’t think I was amazing. So often, I wonder if our society is trying to fill a void that is meant for Jesus by puffing up their lives and their children. When in reality, behind the scenes, they are truly feeling inadequate and depressed.

    Like

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  31. C baker says:

    So while you were busy writing down everybody’s names and counting up the members of the family, why didn’t you complain to an usher or to the director of the dance school?

    Seems to me like that would have been a lot more loving than holding in your feelings and then venting your spleen online.

    Like

  32. Tammy says:

    I thought I was the only one out there thinking this!

    Like

  33. @ C baker: Oh right, like you would confront a group of nutbags who think the rules don’t apply to them at a kid’s recital, one lady against a family of 22 who would in all probability be very willing to get into a shouting match in defense of their perfect kkyylliiee. Unless you have the bravery of John Wayne, you would’ve done the same thing – sat there, watched in disbelief, and don’t make waves, for the kid’s sake’s if nothing else. It’s easy to be an armchair quarterback and criticize from the safety of an anonymous keyboard. @Jami – I have a disabled kid and I’m guilty of overly praising his mediocre art, and his teacher’s very generous C’s and C- grades, but my excuse is this: when he grows up to the harsh reality of adult life, and how tough it is in this world even if you’re not disabled, and everybody will be very willing to tell him how bad he does a job, or how stupid he is and girls will go “ewwww” when he gets up the nerve to ask one out, at least he will remember that his dad loved him as much as God loves me, and I hope that is some solace to him on his bad days, which I’m sure there are going to be plenty of. Because he IS cool, and brave and wonderful and kind, and I love him so much it kills me to think how hard and cruel it’s going to be for him when he finds out one day that people in general don’t like being around people like him. He’ll always be able to look back fondly on his childhood, and remember the love his dad and mom gave to him every day. If you are interested here’s his story – I need to update the page, but life is relentless lol: b6kid.com

    Like

  34. Lauren says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever read an article that has so accurately articulated the entitlement mindset of today’s society. This gave me goosebumps. You’re my hero!

    Liked by 1 person

  35. Awesome! My first time to read your blog. I’m a mom of two girls, both of whom grew up to be awesome, sweet followers of Christ. I couldn’t ask for more. They did lots of other things I could brag about, but nothing else that really matters. Yes, yes, yes… I agree with you. Keep it up. You’re on the right track. (Oh, and my mom left an “m” out of my name, so I never got the personalized coffee mug until I became, “MOM”. :D)

    Liked by 1 person

  36. Nothing to say that others haven’t articulated better than I could, but thank you for this approach. If only future generations would be made up of individuals raised like your children.

    Liked by 1 person

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