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The 10 commandments of parenting

I have given this blog the most unoriginal title. Go on, Google it. You will find a billion results with everyone’s take on the list. Of course, being the reference itself comes from religious dogma, invariably there are blogs, articles and general information websites produced by those of Christian faith, but in the absence of religion in one’s life, how do they find out the fundamentals of being the perfect/great/good/adequate parent they should be?

Following the public outrage over Kiesha Weippeart being murdered by her mother Kristi Abrahams I've been wondering: who was looking out for the mother to teach her how to be an adequate enough mother to HER child? Who was there to teach her not to bite her daughter when she was 15 months old, or not to intentionally burn her with a cigarette when she was three, or not to beat the girl so senseless that it causes her death at the young age of only six years old? And now at this point I know you've most probable gone back to read what I wrote just one sentence prior;

“who was looking out for the mother….?”

Why would we care about the mother? Part of her defence was that she herself was abused as a child at the hands of her father. I have seen it been referenced in the media as a “cycle of abuse,” a never ending series of abuse by a parent towards their child. And I also wondered, though I don’t want this to sound like Kiesha’s silver lining, nor speak ill of the dead, but had she not have died at the hands of her mother, had she have lived long enough to be the age where she could have her own child, would the cycle of abuse have continued with her?

Here are my Ten Commandments of Parenting

1. Before the conception, during the pregnancy and after the birth make sure you are bringing the child into a loving household.
Whether it’s a “traditional” mum and dad family, a same sex parenting family, or whatever your situation may be, make sure you provide the child with a place where they feel loved.

2. Provide a safe haven for your child.

Your home and all your surrounds need to be a place where your child not only feels safe, but is safe.

3. When times are tough, always seek external advice.

It takes a village to raise a child. It doesn’t matter whether that is an old African proverb, or one that an American writer attributed to the African culture to make it sound more significant, but it truly does take this global village of ours to help modern parents raise their kids.

4. Whatever you expected in your own childhood, simply multiply that by a million and provide that for your child even if your own expectations weren’t met.

Every parent should always want the best for their child and never be jealous of the child if they are provided with more than what you got as a child. This doesn’t mean spoil the child rotten, it means do not hold the child back because of some preconceived idea you have that your child doesn’t deserve to have a better life than you had.

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5. If you were abused as a child, stop the cycle of abuse now.

This is a carry-over from Commandment #4. I am sure that if you were abused as a child your expectations were that the abuse would stop.

6. Do not pass on prejudices that you have to your child.

Just because you don’t like sport doesn’t mean you should stop you child from liking it. Just because you don’t like R’n’B, pop music, country or heavy metal doesn’t mean you should stop your child from liking it. And sure your child can get injured playing many sports or become a self-obsessed, steroid taking gym junkie, sure your child can become self-loathing and depressed if they don’t live up to the “accepted stereo types” when listening to R’n’B, sure they can become a racist redneck listening to country or a suicidal mass murderer if they listen to heavy metal (so the media will tell you), go back to Commandment #2 and know that if you provide a safe haven for your child, they can enjoy these experiences without them making these choices the thing that defines them and that makes them lifestyle choices.

7. Spend as much time as you can with your children.

The question always has to be asked; why have children only to dump them at their grandparent’s house so you can continue with your social life?

8. Put your child’s interests before you own.

You may prefer to watch the football, read a novel, get drunk or go for a long run by yourself, but there is nothing better than watching your child develop and discover the thing that they might like as a hobby when they’re older.

9. Educate your child.

And if you feel you can’t do a good enough job, get someone else to help you with it. At the very least, stick them in front of educational television shows aimed at their age group.

10. Never put your child down.

There’s a fine line between praising your child when praise isn’t due and encouraging your child through positive reinforcement, but either is better than berating your child. Making them feel guilty or shameful is not a way of toughening them up so that they perform better.

When you are writing a "top ten" or "ten things that" list you inevitably miss out on one or more items you could have added to the list. What would you add to this list if you were writing a list of parenting commandments?

Darrell Milton blogs at Modern Father Online.  He has a wife and two boys, but that could change if his wife gets her way… When he's not writing or spending time with his family he works full-time selling industrial pumps.

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