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7 Essential Rules to a Happy Family Life

Here are some basic Rules to help you love your family easier, whether you already have a close-knit family or whether it is full of tricky relationships and resentments.

(Excerpted from "The Rules of Love" by Richard Templar)

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Your Children Come Before You


There's a disturbing trend I've noticed over recent years of parents putting their own well-being before their children's. I'm talking here about children who are still under 18 and living at home. This trend is coupled with a horrid expression: "me time." Don't ever let me catch you using this phrase.

The fact is that when you decide to have children (whether it's a conscious choice or an accidental one), part of the commitment is to put your children before yourself. You've only got to stick it out until the youngest is 18, but until then your hobbies, career, free time, and all the rest takes second place.

Here's a case in point, and one of my particular complaints. Children really look forward to spending time on vacations with their parents. With school, work, and all the rest of it, it's often the best time for getting their parents' undivided attention. What do some parents do? They stay in hotels that will look after the kids for them all week so they can do their own thing. Now one morning is fine, if the kids are happy with it, but not a large proportion of the entire vacation. I know being a parent is exhausting, but that's the nature of the job. That's what you take on when you become a parent.

I'm not saying you can't ever go out for the evening, of course you can. I'm not saying you should only be about your kids. That wouldn't be good for them or you. They need to learn consideration. However, they also need to know that they are the top priority in your life. While you may want or need to work, which is fine, at least one parent needs a job that broadly fits round the kids, rather than jetting off on some fabulous career that takes you away from them for long periods.

If you put yourself before the children, not only are you not giving them the love they deserve, you're also telling them that all through life, looking after number one is more important than anything else. Believe me, that's a philosophy that won't make them happy.

Next: Nothing Is Worth Falling Out Over

More on: Instilling Values

From The Rules of Love Copyright © 2009, FT Press. Used by permission of FT Press, and Pearson Education. All rights reserved.

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