Parenting Advice from Ann Landers
I ran across this short letter from Ann Landers on parenting. I decided to just copy it in its entirety. A lot of wisdom for parents in these “12 Golden Rules!”
Dear Ann Landers: Several years ago, you printed Twelve Rules for Raising Children. I carried the column in my wallet until it became so dog-eared and yellowed with age that it is no longer legible. Please print it again, Ann. It’s worth a repeat. – A San Antonio Mother
Dear Mother: Here it is. Thanks for asking.
- Remember that a child is a gift from God, the richest of all blessings. Do not attempt to mold him in the image of yourself, your father, your brother or your neighbor. Each child is an individual and should be permitted to be himself.
- Don’t crush a child’s spirit when he fails. And never compare him with others who have outshone him.
- Remember that anger and hostility are natural emotions. Help your child to find socially acceptable outlets for these normal feelings or they may be turned inward and erupt in the form of physical or mental illness.
- Discipline your child with firmness and reason. Don’t let your anger throw you off balance. If he knows you are fair, you will not lose his respect or his love. And make sure the punishment fits the crime. Even the youngest child has a keen sense of justice.
- Remember that each child needs two parents. Present a united front. Never join with your child against your mate. This can create in your child (as well as in yourself) emotional conflicts. It can also create feelings of guilt, confusion and insecurity.
- Do not hand your child everything his little heart desires. Permit him to know the thrill of earning and the joy of achieving. Grant him the greatest of all satisfactions, the pleasure that comes with personal accomplishment.
- Do not set yourself up as the epitome of perfection. This is a difficult role to play 24 hours a day. You will find it easier to communicate with your child if you let him know that Mom and Dad can err too.
- Don’t make threats in anger or impossible promises when you are in a generous mood. Threaten or promise only that which you can live up to. To a child, a parent’s word means everything. The child who has lost faith in his parents has difficulty believing in anything.
- Do not smother your child with superficial manifestations of “love.” The purest and healthiest love expresses itself in day-in, day-out training, which breeds self-confidence and independence.
- Teach your child there is dignity in hard work, whether it is performed with callused hands that shovel coal or skilled fingers that manipulate surgical instruments. Let him know a useful life is a blessed one and a life of ease and pleasure-seeking is empty and meaningless.
- Do not try to protect your child against every small blow and disappointment. Adversity strengthens character and makes us compassionate. Trouble is the great equalizer. Let him learn it.
- Teach your child to love God and to love his fellow men. Don’t send your child to a place of worship, take him there. Children learn from example. Telling him something is not teaching him. If you give your child a deep and abiding faith in God, it can be his strength and his light when all else fails.
Excerpted from Ann Landers’ new book “Wake Up and Smell the Coffee,” published by Villard and available in bookstores everywhere. Copied from the Chicago Tribune, 8/28/96.