The Ten Commitments of Great Parents
There are ten commitments that remind us of the most important sacrifices parents can make to raise highly healthy children. These commitments (with perhaps the exception of number 7) are choices each of us can make, regardless of our personal life circumstances. The following are an adaptation of the ten commitments of great parents developed by psychologist Todd E. Linaman.
1. Provide for physical needs. Growing children need healthy diets, adequate clothing, quality health care, and protection from harm.
2. Be there for them. When your children talk to you, turn off the television, face them, and really listen. As much as possible, attend Little League games, school conferences, and band concerts. Your presence, attention, and availability will make a significant difference in the lives of your children.
3. Give them “roots and wings.” Children need to try new things. They need the opportunity to try and to learn from the experience. Supportive family “roots” will soften any falls and give them a stable place to land.
4. Balance individuality with absolutes. Each child is unique. Celebrate individual strengths and try to see life from your child’s perspective. Show respect for personal preferences and fears. At the same time, operate from the strength of your convictions. Children need the security of unmovable boundaries and guidelines for behavior.
5. Hold them accountable. Children want to do what’s right, and they want to be accepted. If they’ve done wrong, encourage them to make amends. Doing so restores their self-respect and lets them know that their behaviors have consequences.
6. Admit when you’re wrong. As parents we make mistakes, and our children can see it–whether we admit it or not. If we’re willing to say, “I blew it; I’m sorry,” our children learn that our relationship with them is more important than maintaining the upper hand. It gives them the freedom to admit their mistakes as well. Facing the truth is a key to good emotional health.
7. Love your spouse. Your children need the security and example of your love for one another.
8. Practice what you preach . Actions speak louder than words. If you tell your children to respect their teachers while you bad-mouth your boss, don’t expect good behavior reports at school conference time! Fight the temptation to just drop them off at church–go with them!
9. Demonstrate a love of learning. If you read for enjoyment and self-improvement, your children are more likely to enjoy learning. Read with them and discuss new ideas to stimulate their thinking. Help your children reach conclusions for themselves. Also, expose your children to new opportunities for learning, such as going to the library, surfing the Internet with them, and taking them to museums.
10. Never give up on them! As our children grow up, some of them will make us think we have done a good job; others may make us wonder if we did anything right at all The time comes when we have to back off and let our children make their own decisions and mistakes. But we must never stop loving them or encouraging them to be the best they can be.
Walt Larimore, M.D. has been called “one of America’s best known family physicians.” He is a nationally-known and nationally sought after speaker and health expert.