*This is a re-post from May 25, 2011*
At first blush, this may seem an aberrant post to this blog, but it is not. Parenting requires constant and sometimes excruciatingly difficult decision-making. A parent can ease this burden by adopting a set of simple, resolute core beliefs.
This decision-making strategy is common in business. A set of “core beliefs” acts as a super-set of criteria used to test any corporate decision, from the simplest to the most complex.
Amazon, for example, has the Amazon Way, fourteen leadership principals that “Amazonians use … every day, whether they’re discussing ideas for new projects, deciding on the best solution for a customer’s problem, or interviewing candidates.”
Below, I offer one such set of beliefs for parental decision-making. It is not offered as the model but as a model for such beliefs. (Believe me, I have a long list of regrets as a parent decision-maker!)
Top ten rules for raising kids
- Love them to death but never, ever indulge them.
- From the youngest age, help them to master something productive because if you don’t, they are sure to master something unproductive (i.e., all children distinguish themselves in some way!)
- Read to them constantly and have a home full of good books, journals and magazines.
- Invest regularly in your marriage because a healthy marriage will make you a better parent.
- Teach them to love, respect and revere their grandparents.
- Model deferred gratification, flexibility and creativity.
- Never capitulate to aspects of the culture you do not believe are healthy, regardless of the effort required.
- Expect good behavior from your children, and behave well yourself.
- Admit when you’ve made mistakes and accept feedback from your kids.
- Realize that child rearing is a life-long learning opportunity…for you, the parent!
Simplifying parental decisions
Consider just a few examples of how such a set of beliefs can simplify decision-making.
You are at the store shopping for a birthday and you are wondering if you have purchased enough. Yes, more than likely you have, and you can checkout without further guilt because you believe that you should love them to death but never, ever indulge them.
You and your spouse are wondering whether to get a babysitter and go out for a quiet dinner and a movie and you decide — Yes! — because you know you should invest regularly in your marriage because a healthy marriage will make you a better parent.
Your pre-teens are exhorting you to let them watch an R-rated movie. Hey, all our friends have seen it! they say. You easily remain resolute and deny their request — despite the consequences — because you know that you will never capitulate to aspects of the culture you do not believe are healthy, regardless of the effort required.
In summary, if you and your spouse decide upon a set of core beliefs, you will ease your future decision-making. Your resolute adherence to your belief system will render most of your parental decisions automatic.