DEAR ABBY: Over the years, you have advised many people -– mothers-in-law and so on. But I have never seen advice for parents. I am a 13-year-old reader who has decided to write my own set of "guidelines" for moms and dads. Here goes:
(1) Don't expect your kids to like the same things you do.
(2) Tell your kids you love them every day.
(3) When your kids do something wrong, don't keep reminding them. Chances are they feel bad enough already.
(4) Remember, you weren't perfect when you were growing up. Don't expect your kids to be.
(5) If you have more than one kid, don't compare them. They are completely different people.
(6) Be patient with your kids. They're just learning.
(7) If something goes wrong, don't blame it on them. It isn't always their fault.
(8) Surprise your kids sometimes -– even if it's something little.
(9) Accept that your kids are getting older. They can't always be 5 years old.
(10) Don't fight in front of your kids. (That should be a no-brainer.)
(11) Don't assume that you know what your kids are thinking.
Thanks for letting me contribute to the column, Abby. -– 13-YEAR-OLD
DEAR 13-YEAR-OLD: You're welcome. If you were older, you would have seen the following "commandments" that first appeared in my column in 1981 (!). They clearly address the subject of parenting:
A CHILD'S TEN COMMANDMENTS FOR PARENTS
by Dr. Kevin Leman
(1) My hands are small; please don't expect perfection whenever I make a bed, draw a picture or throw a ball. My legs are short; please slow down so that I can keep up with you.
(2) My eyes have not seen the world as yours have; please let me explore safely. Don't restrict me unnecessarily.
(3) Housework will always be there. I'm little for only a short time -– please take time to explain things to me about this wonderful world, and do so willingly.
(4) My feelings are tender; please be sensitive to my needs. Don't nag me all day long. (You wouldn't want to be nagged for your inquisitiveness.) Treat me as you would like to be treated.
(5) I am a special gift from God; please treasure me as God intended you to do, holding me accountable for my actions, giving me guidelines to live by and disciplining me in a loving manner.
(6) I need your encouragement to grow. Please go easy on the criticism; remember, you can criticize the things I do without criticizing me.
(7) Please give me the freedom to make decisions concerning myself. Permit me to fail so that I can learn from my mistakes. Then someday I'll be prepared to make the kind of decisions life requires of me.
(8) Please don't do things over for me. Somehow that makes me feel that my efforts didn't quite measure up to your expectations. I know it's hard, but please don't try to compare me with my brother or sister.
(9) Please don't be afraid to leave for a weekend together. Kids need vacations from parents, just as parents need vacations from kids. Besides, it's a great way to show us kids that your marriage is very special.
(10) Please take me to Sunday school and church regularly, setting a good example for me to follow. I enjoy learning more about God.