What’s the Golden Rule of Parenting?

emerson

My first grade class. I’m in the bottom row.

When I was a first grader at Emerson Elementary in Snohomish, WA, our teacher said, “Please, raise your hand if you know the Golden Rule.”

I wasn’t sure what she meant by the “Golden Rule.” She pronounced each word with such emphasis and finality it made me wiggle in my seat because I wasn’t sure what it was — and it sure must be important. I looked around me and everyone’s hand had shot straight up. So, I shyly raised my hand, too. I thought hard and hoped she wouldn’t call on me. My mind raced through all the Bible versus our Mom spouted off at a fast clip each morning. The best I could come up with was from Matthew 5:39, “If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.”

After a sigh of relief when the teacher called on someone else, I learned that The Golden Rule was to “treat others how you wished to be treated yourself.” After that revelation, the teacher pulled down the white screen over the green chalkboard, turned off the lights and started up the projector to show us a black and white, approved for school circa 1950s, short film on “The Golden Rule.”

This memory came back to me after reading an article in Psychology Today by Suzanne Gelb Ph.D., J.D. called Good Parenting—It’s Not Complicated: Learning to be the type of parent that your child deserves.

It seems her parenting advice is kind of a Golden Rule itself. Be the parent you would want to have as a parent Here’s an excerpt, but be sure to click on the link above to read it in full detail. It’s worth it and it’s not that long. She gives a list of things we can do to improve.

I just searched for the term “Parenting” in the Books section on a major online platform.

Do you know what I found?

Over 50,000 titles!

This makes me happy… and frustrated. 

Happy, because if you’ve got valuable insights to share—on any topic—writing a book is a beautiful way to do it. (I’ve written 15 books

, myself.)

Frustrated, because… hmm. How do I put this elegantly? 

Let’s try this:

Good parenting is not rocket science—and it shouldn’t require 50,000 books to help parents understand what is required. 

As a parent, your job can be quite simple. 

To care for your child, as you would care for yourself.

The problem is that many grown-ups don’t actually care for themselves in all of the ways that matter. They know how to care for themselves in the basic and fundamental ways—like brushing teeth, washing hair—but not always in the deeper ways, like maintaining emotional health or prioritizing self-respect and self-worth (which invariably translates into making positive choices.) Yes, making positive choices is a form of self-care.

The problem is that many grown-ups never learned how to truly be well-adjusted grown-ups, in large part because their parents or caregivers weren’t equipped to teach them everything they needed to know. So they tend to pass along that “shakiness” to their children, perpetuating the cycle of inadequate parenting and shaky life skills. 

It is heartbreaking, but true. 

This is a problem that 50,000 books are trying to help resolve. 

This is a problem that I have devoted much of my 30-plus-year career in the counseling field to solving, too.

A lot of my early classroom memories are of teachers reading to us after recess, putting our heads down on desks to play a game called “Seven Up” — at  least that is what I think it was called. And those black and white films the school would order. I’d love to see them now. I bet they’d make me laugh with how corny and contrived they were. They did then.

randk 8

High school friends.We were all in the Yearbook staff together.

What do you think about the golden rule suggestion in parenting? Do you use it and try to parent differently than your mom and dad?

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