By Heath Kull
Most of us are familiar with the 10 commandments and are at least aware that they form the basis for both Judeo-Christian ethics and our legal system. And technically, they represent the first download from the cloud to a tablet. While they may seem old-fashioned to the younger generations, they are 10 rules that, along with the golden rule, have raised and sustained many of us throughout our lives. I try to follow them and also treat others as I want to be treated. For reference:
You shall have no other gods before me.
You shall not make idols.
You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
Honor your father and your mother.
You shall not murder.
You shall not commit adultery.
You shall not steal.
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
You shall not covet.
While I am neither as wise nor as succinct as the Lord Almighty, I also have a 10 commandments…for parenting.
- I will make my children a priority and will work to never be “too busy” or “too tired” or “too anything else” to spend the time with my children that they need. As parents, we have to work to ensure that our actions and our priorities match.
- I will not model behavior for my children that I then punish them for. It can be easy to allow ourselves to act in a way that we feel that we deserve to act due to our age and accomplishments, but to our children, we are role models and they are always watching and even copying us. For them, it is confusing to get punished for acting like their parents.
- I will not express frustrations about my children to others as I will commit to expressing my frustrations directly to them. We don’t appreciate it when people speak behind our back and damage our reputations to others. Why would our kids be any different?
- I will set aside time in my schedule, no matter how busy I get, that is sacred and belongs to my children. It is easy to get busy, but kids need time with their parents that they don’t have to fight for, ask for or behave badly to get. This can be dinners or Sunday afternoons or whenever you can carve out the time. It just needs to be sacred to you and for them.
- I will teach my children to honor and respect me by honoring and respecting them. While demanding respect sounds like a good strategy, it usually doesn’t work…unless you’re willing to physically scare them. And is that really respect, or just fear?
- I will not kill my kids, or hit them in anger, or say things just to hurt them, or be a bad example of a human being for them. This one can be a challenge but shouldn’t be. If we treat our children the way that we want them to treat us, parenting gets a whole lot easier.
- I will not invest more time and energy in other people’s children than my own. Working at The Ranches can make this a challenge, but I am particularly committed to this one based on how I grew up. You can never teach your kids that you love them by prioritizing someone else’s child.
- I will always reward the efforts and accomplishments of my children. When our children were particularly young, my wife and I tended to “reward the slightest try.” As our children got a little older, we continued to acknowledge the effort and started to then celebrate the successes and the accomplishments.
- I will always be honest with my kids and teach them to be honest with me. Most people today tend to believe lies are OK if they’re in a situation where they fear a negative reaction from others or if the lie won’t really hurt anyone. I don’t accept this and have always strived for honesty in all situations – especially when it’s difficult. It’s one of the original 10 after all.
- I will not compete with or be jealous of my children’s accomplishments. Sadly, it is all to common today to see adults reliving their younger years through their children and competing with their kids in unhealthy and unfair ways. Just don’t.
These are my commandments and I don’t expect everyone to follow them, but I do know that parenting gets a lot easier when you know what your rules are, what your priorities look like and what you are looking to accomplish. Just my two cents.