As we head into Father’s Day weekend, I want to pass along to you some of the basic rules of parenting that I use to raise my son. Tools that I learned from my wonderful father.
My dad was simply awesome. No two ways about it. He was my best friend, my teacher, coach, buddy, helper, supporter, and he was even the best man at my wedding (he deserved that role as he was the best man I ever knew – and still is). He gave me all the tools that I needed not only to be a good person and a good man but also, eventually, be a good father.
I am lucky to have a great son and that is not just me talking! I hear that from his teachers, other parents, and other adults. But many people are surprised to learn just how laid back I am with him. He has never had a bed time or had to eat dinner at a certain time or clean his plate or mop up every vegetable. He has never had to follow any strict policies regarding television or homework or video games or chores or any of the other daily routines that most parents think are essential to successful parenting. Even though I am always there to guide him, he gets to make many important decisions on his own – and he always has.
However, with all of that said and with not too many tradition “rules,” my son is still an amazing young man who is wonderfully behaved and does all of the things that he is supposed to do – and most of the time without me asking. He is kind, he is caring, he is smart, he is funny, he does the right thing, says the right thing, and knows what the right thing is in almost any situation.
My parenting style comes from the basic style that my dad gave me. It breaks down to this. My son has three main rules. Three rules which pretty much encompass everything in life. Here they are and maybe they will help out a few of you fathers (and mothers) along your parenting journey.
Pretty simple really. Being a punk covers being rude, not doing what you’re told to do, and not treating other people well. Overall, not being engaged or in touch with the world around you and always thinking of yourself first. Not a good thing, no matter what the situation might be.
This is pretty much self-explanatory. Of course not being a bully with your words or your actions. But also not being a bully in thought. Meaning – be polite and to be kind. Take the high road, care about other people and other children, as well as caring about the planet, the environment, and the well being of the human race.
Being vulnerable and having a soft side does not equal being weak. That is major misconception that many men have and unfortunately, they pass it down to their sons. My father was a strong, no nonsense, farm raised, country boy – but he also never missed an opportunity to be kind to me and to the people he knew. He never missed an opportunity to tell me he loved me, or to hug me, or to kiss me. Even when we were both adults my father always showed me affection and love. I miss that affection immensely now that he is gone.
Again, pretty much self-explanatory. This of course covers everyday basic manners – things like saying please and thank you. But it also covers just treating people well and doing the right thing. Having respect for your fellow man. Respect for other cultures, other religions, other ways of life, other belief systems, and in general, respect for people (children and adults) who may be different than yourself.
Ta-da! There you go! That is it… the three rules of parenting.
Yes, I know that it all sounds really basic and simple but, I promise you that if you use this approach, everything else will start to fall into place. All the big stuff will turn out ok if you first take care of the little details. Sort of like building a house. If you don’t have a solid foundation, everything else won’t be right either. Worry less about the vegetables and the video time and worry more about teaching respect, decency, and kindness.
And the one main thing to remember, the most important thing for these three rules to work, is that you as a father and a parent must also follow rule number three. You must treat your child with respect. Respect them and they will respect you – and everyone else.
There is a time to be a parent and there is a time to be a friend. You need a healthy balance of both. Happy Fathers Day!
What do you think are the most important rules of parenting?
Rob Youngblood is an Emmy Winning TV Host, Men’s Life and Style Expert, Communications Coach, Brand Consultant, and Single Dad. You can follow him on Twitter.