Growing up, whenever my brother or I would get in trouble (usually him), Daddy would sit us down and go over his 3 rules. I always remembered 2 of the 3; that third rule would elude me every time, which just irritated my dad. The three rules were simple:
- Don’t lie to me.
- Don’t play games.
- Be responsible
That “Be responsible” rule and I just didn’t like each other. I couldn’t remember it at all, and never really got the whole thing. At least, not until I got older. Now, as an adult, I find myself reciting Daddy’s 3 rules. Funny thing is, I don’t recite them to my children very often. I recite them at work. They’re pretty basic guidelines for any interaction. “Don’t lie to me.” It shows a lack of integrity and character, and tells me that you can’t be trusted. “Don’t play games.” Nobody has time for foolishness. Be straight with me, and I’ll be straight with you. In my opinion, playing games puts you on the borderline of lying to me, and puts you in the category of someone I have to watch, because playing games puts you too close to lying. “Be responsible.” Do what you say you’re going to do. If you can’t, acknowledge it, own up to your mistakes. Man (or woman) up.
I’m sure there were points in my childhood that my dad wondered if I understood the three rules. I mean, outside of the times in trouble and the subsequent lectures and spankings, I don’t remember hearing the rules all of the time. And considering I had a hard time remembering “Be responsible,” I wouldn’t blame him for wondering if I was “getting it.” Yet, here I am, at 33, not only remembering the 3 rules, but reciting them and applying them in my own life.
“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6. Whether you are a Christian or not, Bible reader or not, you’ve heard this scripture. Our job as parents is to teach and train our children. Sometimes, we question whether they get it. And yet, you have to trust that they do, either then or later on. And at some point in the future, be it tomorrow, next week, next month or next decade, they will go right back to the foundation that we give them. The question is, “WHAT are you training your child?” Are you training them to be responsible adults contributing to the world around them, or are you training them to be manipulative? Are you teaching them according to the Word of God, or are you teaching them to rebel against the Word? What you teach them today will be seen again in the future. let’s make sure they can return to those teachings and use them to make themselves and those around them better.
My dad taught me the 3 rules, among many other things. They remind me to walk with integrity, to have good character, and give me a baseline with which to interact with others. I share them with friends, with co-workers, and even my direct reports, so they understand my basic needs and expectations. The 3 rules, which I learned 20+ years ago, continue to carry me, and I am thankful for the foundation my Daddy gave me, as it has helped me grow into a woman of integrity and character. I pray that, as we continue to instill lessons into our girls, my husband and I pay it forward to them.