10 Parenting Commandments to Live By (for Over-Achievers!)

Momtrepreneur Rosie Pope is back with her top 10 pieces of advice for parents everywhere.

From Rosie:
Parenting is tricky if I was to put it politely. Give me a few glasses of champagne and it becomes a much more complex conversation. The thing is, if you are used to working hard for—and achieving—your goals, checking off your accomplishments with pride, and adding to your ever-impressive resume, than you are used to getting regular confirmations of your amazingness. You know the joy and sense of security that confidence in your own success can bring. The thing with parenting, however, is there isn’t really a review, grade or promotion to assert just how brilliant you are. I mean, when can you really sit back and say, “Job well done”? Parenting is literally a life-long endeavor, maybe even longer. This is both one of the most beautiful gifts life can bring and one of the hardest to deal with—especially when you really want to get it right, more than anything else and any other job you’ve ever done, and you’d really like to know just how you’re doing, particularly in those moments of self-doubt! In my search for parenting greatness, I, like many, have done some ridiculous things.

My personal list includes trying to make homemade sprinkles (yep, bizarrely, it is possible), searching “How long will it take me to re-lactate” when stricken with fear on a turbulent flight and banging my own head against a hard floor so I could see just how much pain my baby was in following a fall. The list goes on, but I fear you might lose faith in me as an expert, so I will stop there! What I have learned, now, as the proud mother of four, is that these huge feats of Supermom-dom are not what defines you as a great parent and they’re not what defines the future health and happiness of your child. It is all the moments in between: the drying of tears, the teaching of lessons and the endless love and warmth we have for our children and the day-to-day values by which we parent, that tell us whether we’re doing a good job or not. While parenting needs to be flexible as each child is different, I have discovered 10 rules that if I follow in truth, I know at my core that I’m doing a good job. Actually a brilliant job. If you need to do a little self-parenting evaluation, if you need a checklist to help guide you, then stick to my 10 parenting commandments, even when they’re not easy, and I have confidence that parenting can be your greatest accomplishment and privilege yet.

1. Admit when you make a mistake

Thinking that parents are perfect is no help at all, but knowing you can be wrong and recover from it with honesty and strength is one of the greatest lessons we can teach our children. 

2. Shower them with love and affection

We know skin-on-skin contact in the early days can actually encourage neurons to grow, and instinctively, we also know that love and affection is really how humans thrive. As parents, giving an endless amount of both to your children will help them achieve and cope with almost anything.  

3. Provide structure

It feels good to know what is coming next. To know when you’ll be eating, sleeping, who is caring for you or picking you up from school and the comforts of rituals, like bedtime stories. Lack of structure is not a carefree or joyous place, it is scary for children and very quickly feels out of control.  

4. Believe in boundaries

Children learn by pushing boundaries to see what is acceptable and what is not. If we don’t provide boundaries, a sense of right and wrong, too much or too little, they will grow up with an inability to self-regulate or an inadequate understanding of good versus bad choices. There is safety and comfort in boundaries. For example, no set bedtime, night after night, ultimately feels like neglect rather than a special treat.  

5. Treat them as individuals 

They truly are. Every child is unique and deserves a dynamic and unique set of parenting skills to bring out the best in them. You won’t know what to do right away, but if you are willing to adapt, you will get to a balanced place that works for both of you.  

6. Don't listen to judgmental people

They are just not helpful. Your own instinct is the best map to follow.  

7. Don't be afraid to ask for help

You are not supposed to be able to do everything all the time. Part of parenting is knowing when you don’t know or when you need help. There is no shame in Team, Tribe or Community and it will benefit your children to be surrounded by them—by role models other than their parents.  

8. You can never say "I love you" too many times

Only good can come from truly knowing you are loved. Don’t forget to say it—and also show it—in all that you do.  

9. Have confidence in your choices

What is best for one family is not necessarily best for your family. It doesn’t make one better than the other. If you don’t feel confident in your choices, perhaps they weren’t the right ones for you after all.  

10. Love with confidence

I feel so passionately about this last point—I actually made it the trademark of my brand. Listen carefully: insecurity will distract you and devour you. When you are sure about what you are doing, when you are comfortable in yourself, you can be in the moment with your children and give them the attention they deserve. You are, after all, only as good as you are comfortable with yourself. This doesn’t mean you have to be perfect but you must be comfortable enough with all of your pieces (the good, the bad and the ones you are working on), so that you don’t have to hide them from your children. Believe me, when you hide things, children always think something is their fault. They can take imperfection but they cannot take fake. Confidence in yourself will allow you to Love With Confidence. For me, and for many, this is the hardest parenting commandment of all. Use these 10 principles to guide you and make sure to step back each day and look at your children. Are they safe and joyful in the moment, are they happy going off to sleep at night, do they know how much they are loved? Ultimately, that’s all the confirmation you really need.

For more expert advice from Rosie Pope, check back for her monthly columns on the site and visit her online at RosiePope.com and @RosiePope on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.