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Things We Learned from Our Children Raising Us

April 15, 2011

As a parent of six, soon to be seven, I’ve always believed that parents were the first teachers of their children. And while there is truth to this, it can also be said that children are the first teachers of their parents on parenting. I’ve gotten all kinds of advice from my parents and little old ladies who pass me in the shopping mall and feel the uncontrollable urge to instruct me on how to “handle that big horde of hooligans”; however my greatest lessons have come from my own children.

I have discovered that if I’m not on the same page as my wife at any point in parenting, anything my kids do wrong could turn out to be a fight between us. So my first rule of parenting is:  Keep in good standing with my spouse. If I don’t, the little ones see the cracks and they will head right for them. My seven-year-old daughter Emily spends most of her life in those cracks and is always trying to widen them. She hits me often with statements like “when Mom’s home she lets me ride the in the street” or “but Mom always lets me watch TV at 11 o’clock at night!” Good thing I’m not that stupid. I know that there’s nothing worth watching at that time…or something like that.

My second rule of parenting is: Rules are not only vital but also need to be consistently monitored and enforced. Inconsistency is a recipe for children to beg and badger because they know they will eventually wear you down. Stick to what you’ve set and make sure they know that if they go to your spouse to bypass what you say, they could find themselves copying the dictionary or running numerous laps around the backyard. It is also important for you and your spouse to always evaluate your rules to see if they need tweaking or changing. Sticking to a bad rule just to save face can come back to bite you.

My third rule of parenting: There is a difference between a right and a privilege (Dessert is not a right!). Also, trying to explain to them the meaning of fair is always quite the challenge. They use that word often when referring to something their sibling received that they didn’t. I always resort to having them define fair and how their statement fits that particular situation. For the most part it shuts them down.

As my wife and I have worked with our children (or they have worked with us) over the years, we have established quite the list of rules. Here are just a few more of our favorites.

Parenting Rules

  • No cryin’ unless you’re dying or blood is flyin’.
  • No sneezing or coughing on the main dish at dinner.
  • If you don’t believe in wiping, you’re on stain-stick duty for the week.
  • Trash doesn’t just go out BY the big trash can, it goes IN it.
  • There needs to be a long discussion if you only have one pair of underwear in the wash for the week.
  • Once food goes in your mouth, it shouldn’t come back out.
  • Shirts are not napkins or tissues, nor is our new couch.
  • Singing is okay, babbling is prohibited.
  • Don’t ask Mom questions while she’s on the phone.
  • Shouting questions to Mom under the bathroom door is also prohibited.
  • Liking it is optional, doing it is not.
  • If your stomach is hurting in the middle of the night, don’t lean over us in bed to tell us. Go straight to the bathroom.
  • If it hurts when you poke it with your finger, stop poking it with your finger!



One Comment leave one →
  1. marisa perez permalink
    May 3, 2011 2:23 pm

    i agree with this completely. My parents can’t say enougn how much we have taught them. Not only that, but I have a younger brother with a difference of 10 years. I can’t even begin to explain how much he has taught me personally. It must be the simple mentality of a child!

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