Rule 5 / Do not let your children do anything that makes you dislike them

In this chapter, Peterson addresses child-rearing. Babies come into the world completely helpless, unlike many animals that can walk soon after birth. Peterson believes that children must be trained, shaped and informed or they can not thrive in the world. However, raising children is exhausting and demanding and many parents choose to abdicate their responsibility to others who don’t have the same level of love for the child as the parent. If children aren’t properly trained, they will be poorly socialized and have terrible lives. Peterson writes, “clear rules make for secure children and calm, rational parents.” Peterson acknowledges the many difficulties associated with child-raising, particularly the vastly different temperaments of children. Some are very complaint while others are stubborn and strong-willed which is very challenging for parents. One piece of advice on perseverance and patience, I hadn’t thought about before was to remember that “half an hour for me was a week for my 2-year-old son.”

Peterson believes in purposeful child-rearing but where do parents find the support and strength to be the parents their children need them to be?

God also wants parents to be responsible for the discipline of their children and throughout the Bible, there is much good advice (eg Ephesians 6:4). God also teaches us through the bad examples of many parents through the Old Testament. Even David, a man after God’s own heart, failed to discipline his children (1 Kings 1:6). God promises wisdom to those who ask (James 1:5) and provides the enabling and strengthening we need to be good parents (Philippians 4:13).

On page 137, Peterson writes this interesting paragraph about limiting rules for children to the following:  

“Do not bite, kick or hit, except in self-defence. Do not torture and bully other children. Eat in a civilized and thankful manner, so that people are happy to have you at their house, and pleased to feed you. Learn to share, so other kids will play with you. Pay attention when spoken to by adults, so they don’t hate you. Go to sleep properly, and peaceably, so that your parents can have a private life and not resent your existence. Take care of your belongings because you’re lucky to have them. Be good company when something fun is happening, so that you’re invited for the fun. Act so that other people are happy you’re around, so that people will want you around. A child who knows these rules will be welcome everywhere.”

Click for: Peterson’s 4th Rule for Life