Marion Schneider

The 10 commandments of parenthood

In our western culture, there are no longer any ceremonies which help mothers in particular to let go of their children. Many mothers believe that it is an expression of their love to have and maintain a close bond with their children. In reality, children undergo a process of gradual emancipation which is necessary for them to become fully-rounded, independent individuals. What can mothers do to assist in this process?

  1. Mothers should not try to make allies out of their children. When parents experience problems, they should try to resolve them by speaking with other adults and avoid drawing their children into their own problems. Children need the strength to master their own lives; likewise, children should not have to take sides, especially in the case of conflicts between the parents.
  2. Mothers should free themselves from the desire to know everything about their children. The private spheres of children should be respected in order to establish a relationship on an equal footing in which the child can entrust the mother in accordance with its own wishes. Trust must be earned, not brought about by force.
  3. The role of the mother as a protector and leader should gradually recede into the background, making space for a climate of equality, respect, and trust between mother and child.
  4. The sexuality and erotic life of the child should be acknowledged by respecting his or her private sphere. The mother should not transgress its bounds without invitation, and should leave it again after the reason for the invitation has been clarified. Children should be allowed to grow on their own terms.
  5. A son should be perceived by his mother as a man and future father, a daughter as a woman and future mother, and both as future adults who will be able to support themselves. Mothers should always respect their children’s future tasks.
  6. Mothers should show that they will be able to continue their lives effortlessly without their children, and that they want their children to go out into the world. The children’s wishes for independence should be respected and supported.
  7. If a mother does not personally like the friends or partners of her child, she only has a right to criticise them when they obviously affect her own well-being or that of the child. Otherwise, mothers should allow their children to make their own experiences and should give advice only when the child explicitly asks for it. This, too, is a sign of respect.
  8. Mothers are advised to treat their children’s friends with respect—optimally, as if they were her own, in order to provide the best possible security and feelings of well-being for all. For instance, fairness when providing meals, drinks or invitations to the cinema etc., when undertaken together. Mothers should also grant equal attention to their children’s new friends.
  9. Mothers should also respect their children’s private sphere by not talking about her child’s problems, friends or personal development with others except when seeking advice to clarify their own problems with them. In such cases, confidentiality is also important. She does not have the right to discuss intimate aspects of her child’s life with others without the child’s consent.
  10. Mothers should prepare themselves, for instance through meditation, for the independence of their children and a possible partner, so that this thought becomes increasingly joyous.

The duties of the father in raising his children

  1. Fathers must always be fair and just with the children. They should not favour one child over the other and should fulfil the children’s basic needs regardless of their gender.
  2. Fathers should be aware that they set an example and they should endeavour to provide a positive example for their children in all that they do.
  3. Fathers should actively support their child’s development as far as is possible and provide them with all the resources they have at their disposal.
  4. Fathers should actively and continuously support the growth and development of their child.
  5. Fathers should treat their children’s friends fairly and with restraint. They should always give a fair and positive opinion of their children’s friends and only when asked or when necessary.
  6. For their own self-respect and self-esteem, and in order to develop love and respect towards others, children must be able to rely on the love and respect of their father. This should not be called into question, even in times of crisis.
  7. The father should regularly accompany and actively support his children in their undertakings, praising them for their successes and developmental achievements and helping them or organising appropriate help where there are deficits.
  8. The father is responsible for making it possible for his child to complete his or her education.
  9. The father should support the mother in the execution of her duties, where necessary critically, even when the parents no longer live together.
  10. The father, together with the mother, should fulfil their roles and responsibilities as parents in public, where necessary also together.