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Rules for Successful Parenting

April 20, 2011

Children change a marriage completely and permanently. They change who we are as individuals and as a couple. They change the way we think and act and relate to each other. They are both an incredible joy and a total distraction as they cause us to redefine ourselves and our relationship. Children throw a marriage out of whack.”(Drs. David and Jan Stoop, The Complete Marriage Book)

Terri confirmed this important truth when she blogged that learning to parent together “changed us and it changed our marriage. Neither of us instinctively knew what to do and we all know that children don’t come with instruction manuals.”  Happily navigating this change from being a couple to being a couple with children requires new wisdom and skills.  Greg blogged that he received instructions from sources ranging from his parents to little old ladies in the mall.  Such counsel may be useful but we should also be intentional in learning to implement skills such as the ones we teach in our Marriage Works! OH relationship education programs and have discussed in previous blog summaries.  These skills include understanding the importance of our personal role definition and role expectation, practicing good communication and problem solving skills, valuing our differences and daily performing the Golden Rule for Marriage. Success also includes developing a solid framework of mutually agreed upon rules to govern the task.

Both Terri and Greg gave us a list of very humorous rules they have learned as parents.  In his book The Five Love Languages of Children, Dr. Gary Chapman gives us another set of rules to consider.  These rules are based on the precept of unconditional love as the guiding light, which enables us as parents to know who we are and what we need to do as we raise our children. None of us is perfect and we can’t expect to love our children or our spouse unconditionally all the time, but as we move toward that goal here is his list of parenting rules to consider:

  1. They are children.
  2. They will tend to act like children.
  3. Much childish behavior is unpleasant.
  4. If I do my part as a parent and love them, despite their childish behavior, they will mature and give up their childish ways.
  5. If I love them only when they please me (conditional love) and if I express my love to them only at those times, they will not feel genuinely loved.  This will damage their self-image, make them insecure and actually prevent them from moving into better self-control and more mature behavior.  Therefore, their development and behavior is as much my responsibility as theirs.
  6. If I love them only when they meet my requirements or expectations, they will feel incompetent and will believe it is pointless to do their best, since it is never enough.  They will always be plagued by insecurity, anxiety, low self-esteem and anger.  To guard against this, I need to often remind myself of my responsibility for their total growth.
  7. If I love them unconditionally, they will feel comfortable about themselves and will be able to control their anxiety and their behavior as they grow to adulthood.

To learn more about how to support your marriage and family and build healthy relationships, please join us on May 21 at the Schuster Center for Performing Arts in Dayton for our 5th Annual Celebration of Love featuring Dr. Gary Chapman.


For more information and to purchase tickets please visit:

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