What’s the Golden Rule of Parenting?

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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.

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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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When parents are outraged over rain

b24f893efc1d9a60a00927af88b8d070--rubber-rain-boots-vintage-bootsI saw a story that I found interesting about parents being outraged because their kids were forced to play outside in the rain at school. I remember playing outside in the rain a lot growing up in a small town in Washington. Rain was part of our daily life. I now live where the sun shines on a daily basis and we look forward to rain like it’s a special treat.

In “Parents’ fury as primary school toughens up pupils with play in the rain” Camilla Turner, education editor for The Telegraph, a UK publication, says this:

“A school’s attempt to toughen up the ‘snowflake’ generation by forcing them to play outside in the rain has met with a backlash from furious parents.

“The head of Piper’s Vale Primary Academy in Ipswich has insisted that playing in the rain is a ‘normal’ part of children’s development but parents said they are ‘disgusted’ by the new policy.

“Ben Carter, the school’s executive principal, apologised to parents for not communicating the change in policy to them but urged them to send their children to school with “suitable footwear and a winter coat or jacket.”

“He defended the ‘wet play’ approach, saying: “Compared with previous generations, children today spend a lot of their time looking at screens and staying indoors. Many have relatively sedentary lifestyles.

“Paradigm Trust academies place great value on outdoor play and exercise as part of children’s education and wellbeing. This is why we encourage our pupils to make the most of their time outside during lunch and breaks, even in damp conditions. 

“This type of wet play is part of children’s normal development. However, in adverse conditions, we will, of course, provide options for pupils to play and be supervised indoors.”

I agree with the school that playing outside is healthy and rain won’t hurt children. I also believe there was a lack of communication and if the parents didn’t know about the new policy, their kids might not have had the right shoes or coats and could have gotten drenched.

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I had a yellow rubber raincoat that I hated.

 

When I was growing up, we had these clumsy rubber boots that went over our shoes. Also, ugly yellow rubber coats that I couldn’t stand. I hated to wear those things, but my mom made me. At Emerson Elementary School, we had space to hang up all our wet rain gear and remove our boots. I was jealous of my best friend’s “bubble umbrella” that was clear plastic. Mine was a normal shape and you couldn’t see through it.

There were plenty of days where we were forced to play inside. When I was in first and second grades, we played on a cement floor in a huge room with a tin roof, in a building that was nothing more than a big garage. I loved the sound of rain on the tin roof when we could hear it above the noise of the kids playing. It’s where we lined up after school to leave the school. The games we played were square ball and keep away.

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My best friend had a cool bubble umbrella like this.

Once I reached the third grade, we got to play in the gym/cafeteria where we hot lunch were served on sectioned plastic trays. After we finished our lunches, which we ate in our classrooms, we lined up and walked single file into the gym without saying a peep. Once in the gym, we rolled around on little square scooters, a few inches off the floor or played a rough game of dodgeball. I don’t envy whoever was assigned lunch recess duty on the inside rainy days!

When I was in college at the University of Washington in Seattle, I don’t remember rain ever slowing us down. My best friend and I would ride bikes or run around Green Lake rain or shine. I do remember hating walking across campus when the rain was coming down sideways and my jeans would get soaked.

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A view of the Cascade Mountains from my little town.

 

Do you think schools should make kids play outside in the rain or in bad weather? What do your kids do when it’s raining outside? When you were growing up what memories do you have of playing in the rain?