The Golden Rule reads as “do unto others as you would have the do to you.” A recent article noted that only 14% of parents use the Golden Rule phrase in their parenting. More concerning, 28% stated they “are unfamiliar with the meaning of the Golden Rule.” In an attempt to understand why this may be true, the authors’ first thought was “the Golden Rule is an arcane, ‘old-timey’ term.” Other possible reasons the author gave included: “We live in a ‘me-first’ society,” “The taproots of ‘community’ are disappearing,” and “The problem is ‘other people’s children.'” The authors also voiced a concern that all this may reflect “an erosion of the civic bonds that have held our communities together.”
That is disconcerting for our communities and our families. In fact, we need to put the Golden Rule back where it belongs—in our families. The best place to start putting the Golden Rule Back into our families is by practicing it in our daily lives as parents. After all, our children often imitate what they see in us. Begin to practice the Golden Rule by treating your child’s other parent as you would have them treat you.
- When you talk about your child’s other parent, talk about them the way you’d want them to talk about you. Compliment them. Encourage them. Express appropriate affection for them. Tell others about their strengths and abilities. If you have something negative to say, talk to them in person, not to someone else. Yes, talk about your child’s other parent they way you’d like them to talk about you.
- Treat your child’s other parent the way you’d like them to treat you. Offer to help around the house. Show them kindness. Share appropriate shows of affection like a hug or kiss. Help with preparing meals. Show them respect. Serve them. Spend time with them. Listen intently to them. Laugh with them. Treat your child’s other parent the way you want them to treat you.
Second, treat other people you meet and know the way you’d like them to treat you. Our children are watching us interact with the world around us. They will learn from our example. Make it a good example, an example that shows how to “treat others as you want them to treat you.”
- When you sit in traffic behind that slow driver, talk about them and treat them the way you’d like them to treat you.
- When you check out at the store, treat the checkout clerk with the same respect you’d like them to give to you.
- When you talk to your child’s friends, treat them the way you want them to treat you. This will include politeness and respect.
- When you interact with your children’s teachers, treat them the way you want them to treat you.
Third, treat your children the way you want them to treat you.
- Give your children the same respect you want them to show you.
- Listen to your children the way you want your children to listen to you.
- Enjoy time with your children, just like you want them to enjoy time with you.
- Be polite with your children, just as you want them to be polite with you.
- Be curious about your children’s lives, just as you’d like them to be curious about your life.
Finally, speak the words out loud in your home: “Do unto others as you would have them do to you.” It may sound like some “old-fashioned” words, but wouldn’t our world be a whole lot better if we actually did it? So say the words out loud. Let them be a guiding principle in your home, one that is spoken often. Your family could become a beacon of the Golden Rule…which, by the way, would make for a family filled with honor, grace, and celebration that may overflow into your community.