Last month, I delivered many parenting workshops. One of the participants (let’s call her Jane) asked me if I had ever written my “parenting bible”.
At first, I smiled and said, “No, not really”, because I do not believe there is such a thing as a parenting rulebook for everyone. But as we talked more, I realized I actually had. With nearly 800 blog posts over the past 4 years, Family Matters is kind of my parenting bible – my personal rules for parenting.
When I asked Jane, “Why would you like to have my parenting bible?” she said something that surprised me. She said, “After a whole day in a workshop with you, I realized that when you talk about your beliefs, you talk about them with such conviction, no wonder you are happy with your parenting. I learned from you today that I needed to write my own bible and I need some ideas and some help with the format”.
I have to say I was very relieved when Jane said she was going to write her own version. You see, reading about someone else’s rules is not enough to make you adopt them. It is not enough to know the “commandments”, you need to accept or reject them to make them your own. You need to go through the process of adopting them and making them part of your life philosophy and that takes time and effort. A parenting rulebook becomes your bible only after you have convinced yourself that it works for you.
I told Jane she could read all the articles on the site, but as I said that, I realized it might take her a long time, so when I came home, I made the decision to write a “parenting bible” – things that I believe make my parenting a happy experience for me and my children.
Starting today, I am writing my rules of parenting, including “do” and “don’t”, but I really believe it is important for each parent to make their own choices, because there is no one-size-fits-all. In fact, I think that the using my “bible” to design your own is a great idea.
- Parents are sales people – they sell their parenting philosophy every day. Accept this as part of the job description. Learn your craft well. Kids who are very happy and have good relationships with their parents have “bought” your “product”.
- You are the captain of your family ship, with all the privileges and responsibilities, so act like one! It is not always easy to be in charge, but the easy things are not necessarily the best for you. Make the tough calls when you have to.
- Do not bargain with your kids on how to parent them. It may get you into a war with them and cause them to do only things that bring immediate rewards. You are not equal to your kids. You are the adult and they are the children. Make sure you remember that and the will too.
- When your kids bargain with you about rules and boundaries and you feel like you are in the market, bargaining on fruits or vegetables, be very happy and proud of them. Most of their life, they are going to bargain for their rights and it is just fair that they use you to practice their bargaining skills.
- Parenting is a manipulating act – As part of your job description, you need to manipulate them to think and believe that they are beautiful, talented, smart, friendly, flexible, sensitive and generally fabulous. If you do not like the idea of manipulating your kids, tough! You took on that job and you cannot quit! Their happiness depends on how well you have convinced them they are happy.
- When communicating to your kids, tell them what you want, instead of what you do not want. Try eliminating the words “don’t”, “no” and “stop” from your vocabulary as much as you can, because this sends a very unclear message as to their options (see Beware of Pink Elephants).
- Be involved in your kids’ education – get to know their teachers, follow up on their assignments and help them develop good learning habits. Never leave the responsibility for your kids’ education in the hands of their teachers. Consistency is king in education and unlike having 100 different teachers during 12 or 13 years of schooling, you are the most consistent thing in your children’s life. Be responsible for educating your kids!
- Encourage your kids to play a musical instrument – research shows that kids who play music from primary school are over 30% better in their academic endeavors by the end of high school. It is a better investment than sending them to a private school and it enriches their life and expands their horizons.
- Play with your kids as much as you can – playing is quality time for kids and they will cherish it for many years to come. But playing will also keep you young and help you keep up with the changes in the world.
- Love cooking and make it a fun activity – teach your kids to enjoy a huge part of their life that there is no way to avoid. Bring them to the kitchen with you when they are babies, have fun, sing songs, explain to them what you do, let them experiment and give them responsibilities in the kitchen. Kids are not there to clean after you in the kitchen, they are there to learn valuable skills, discover the joy of cooking and develop a love for the kitchen.
If you would like to share with us some of your parenting “commandments”, please use the comment box below.
Join me next week for my 10 more good parenting rules.
This post is part of the series Ronit's Parenting Bible:
- Ronit’s Parenting Bible: Who’s in Charge?
- Ronit’s Parenting Bible: Love
- Ronit’s Parenting Bible: Food
- Ronit’s Parenting Bible: Babies
- Ronit’s Parenting Bible: Change
- Ronit’s Parenting Bible: Role Model
- Ronit’s Parenting Bible: Manners
- Ronit’s Parenting Bible: Gender
- Ronit’s Parenting Bible: School
- Ronit’s Parenting Bible: Money