The prompt for the second Letters to my Daughters Group Writing Project is “ten rules to live by.”
Now, obviously, there are already ten rules to live by (you might recall the ‘thou shalt not’ language, yes?). But here are a few things that I’ve picked up in my rather short life. Following them, like following the commandments, has definitely made my life easier!
1. Believe. Believe something. Believe in God. Believe in yourself.
2. Be honest. Be honest with yourself. Be honest with your spouse. Be honest in your dealings with your fellow man. At the very least, it’s a lot easier to keep your story straight. Plus, when your kids lie to you, you can point to your honest example to show them that it’s wrong.
3. Don’t sweat the small stuff. I’m terrible at this. But when I remember this rule, I don’t yell at Hayden for throwing bubbles on the floor. It’s really not that important.
4. Love. Love everything and everybody in the whole world, only he never let on so . . . oh, sorry, that’s Oklahoma. Love is really a key to happiness. Love God, love your family and love what you do for a living. What else could it take to make someone happy?
5. Let go. This is hard, but it’s definitely the most healthy.
6. Talk things out/Fight fair. The best way to do this is not to get upset and yell, but even if you can’t do that (I often can’t keep myself from at least getting upset), don’t bring up settled (or unsettled) issues from the past in an argument. If something is bothering you, gently and in a non-accusatory way, bring it up with the person who upset you.
7. Think ahead. The time to tell your children the rules (and impose their consequences) is not after they break them. Decide with your spouse what the rules are, tell them to your children. (In the rule of law, this is called publicity—telling people about the laws. It also has to do with prospectivity—you can’t punish people for actions they made before a law was passed.)
8. Make your expectations reasonable and clear. Not just for your children, either. This was the first piece of advice I gave one of my college roommates when she got married. Tell your husband what you expect of him and odds are a lot lower that he’ll disappoint you.
9. Impose (and accept) consequences. Be consistent in discipline, whatever style of discipline you use. And when you get a speeding ticket, accept the consequences. Call speeding civil disobedience if you want, but an important part of that is willingly accepting the consequences.
10. Spend time together. Spend time with your family and your friends. Eat dinner together as a family as often as you can.
What rules do you live by? (And hurry if you want to participate in the GWP; the deadline is tomorrow!)