The 10 parenting commandments

Jan 8, 2014, 11:12 PM | Updated: May 7, 2014, 6:23 pm

Kids come pre-programmed with a lot of personality types. No two kids will ever be the same, even within the same family. As parents, it would be lovely to find a book, method, or course that could tell us everything we need to know about being a good parent, but there is no such thing as one-size-fits-all parenting advice, just as there are no one-size-fits-all kids.

However, there are some universal truths when it comes to parenting. The best parenting advice is adaptable to all types of kids living in all types of families. Here is a round-up of the 10 universal parenting commandments that every family can consider.

1. Thou shalt be available. Proximity matters in parenting. Kids need face time with their parents. And no amount of stuff, extracurricular activities, or parent-like substitutes can ever compensate for lack of parental involvement. Take time each day to spend with your children, and don't feel guilty if you can only manage 15 to 30 minutes each day. Consistency and focused attention matter more than anything else.

2. Thou shalt be affectionate. Want to raise secure, well-adjusted kids? Make your kids feel how much you love them. Give him a hug, even when he tries to squirm away, and tell her that you love her every time she walks out the door.

3. Thou shalt be a parent. We all want great relationships with our kids, but we can't confuse positive parenting with being our kids' friend. Our kids look to us as role models, and they need an authority figure in their lives.

4. Thou shalt forgive. Everyone, parents and kids alike, make mistakes. Your kid needs your sincere forgiveness, and he also needs to hear you apologize when you make a mistake. Build a family legacy of mercy and acceptance.

5. Thou shalt build up, not break down. Compliment, compliment, compliment. Compliment his effort at school. Compliment her choice of friends. Let your kids know daily that you appreciate the good they bring to your home.

6. Thou shalt keep your priorities straight. It would be nice to go out with friends all night and buy yourself expensive clothes and toys, but your priorities change as a parent. Babies come to this world completely helpless and completely dependent on parents. Most of the time, the kids have to come first.

7. Thou shalt support a sense of self. Even though the kids' needs come first, don't lose your sense of self. Kids deserve interesting parents, and they deserve parents who take care of their own mental health and well-being. Take appropriate time for yourself and foster your interests.

8. Thou shalt embrace you child's sense of self. Parenting would be so much easier if kids acted and thought like their parents, but they don't. Learn to accept your child's unique personality and strengths, even when they vary from your own.

9. Thou shalt create boundaries. Rules are an important part of raising secure children. Find a set of expectations that match your family's morals and find a way to consistently reinforce those rules.

10. Thou shalt trust thyself. Seeking out parenting advice is good, up to a certain point. You are uniquely equipped to raise your own children, and don't let anyone else's opinion supplant your own intuition. Trust yourself, and your parenting style.

Find joy in parenting. Our kids are our greatest blessing, and often our greatest challenge. Relying on good advice and your own common sense will strengthen your family, and increase your confidence as a parent. Hug your kids today and commit to being an even better parent in the days to come.

Heather Hale is a fourth-generation Montanan, mom to two crazy boys, and wife to one amazing husband. You can learn more about her eco-conscious lifestyle at moderatelycrunchy.com.

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The 10 parenting commandments