8 Timeless Rules For My 8-Year Old Daughter

Scroll down ↓

8 Timeless Rules For My 8-Year Old Daughter


[Expanded & updated from the original post that appeared on this day 2 years ago today]

Driving home with my organic, soy chai latte in hand, today, I began to wonder what the critical lessons I should be teaching my daughter were.

She’s only 8, but I wanted to make sure I got my most treasured thoughts down, to capture my deepest wisdom.

So, not wanting to be late, lose my thoughts or spill my chai, I whipped out my iPhone, began to type in one hand, while steering with my knees and balancing my chai in the other (Joking, people…I actually steered with my navel, not my knees. Anyways, pretty sure my wife will be teaching my daughter how to drive).

Here’s what I came up with…

1. Never get a tattoo you can’t see.
For years, I taught yoga. And, when I taught, I’d see a lot of ink all over people’s bodies. But, the thing that I really just didn’t get was tattoos in places you’ll never actually be able to see with your own eyes. The back of neck is one example. But, the bigee, the one I’d see on a solid 20% of all women who do yoga in NYC was the lower back tat. Which led me wonder, are they doing yoga to enlighten their bodies, minds and spirits…or do they just hope to get flexible enough to one day see their own ink?!

2. Never get a tattoo you can see. You love pink now. But, hey, by the time you’re really old, like 11 or 12, you might not love it at all. Heck, you might even hate it. If we stay in NYC, there’s even a good chance your favorite color with be gray (like the air and the snow). People change. We evolve. What you are breathless for today may very well leave you flat or, worse, repulsed decades later. So, if you want to pay tribute to something you know deep down in your soul will be everlasting…plant a tree.

3. Think with your brain, act with your heart. There will be a ton of things to think about, to decide as you wander through life. You can’t possibly make good decisions all the time. That’s not the point. The point is, when you reach those moments where the decisions start to really mean something, three-step the solution. Gather information, learn what you can. Step back and let it simmer. Then listen to and act upon what your heart tells you is right. Whether it was the most logical decision in hindsight doesn’t matter. You can always correct course…unless of course, you’re thinking about getting a tattoo. If so, see rules number 1 and 2.

4. Don’t smoke. When I was growing up, smoking was cool, the Marlboro Man hadn’t yet died from lung cancer. Now he has. Now we have more information. Now we know the truth. But, here’s the thing, once you start, it’s really, really hard to stop. I know, because my mom only stopped when she came home to find me and your aunt smoking in the house when we were 12 and 14 years old. We told her we’d keep doing it all the time until she stopped. And, she wasn’t even a real serious smoker. But, that’s what it took. Never start and you’ll never have to worry about quitting. Plus, I won’t have to beat the piss out the idiots who got you started. Daddy wants to stay out of the big-house.

5. Or date smokin’ hot men (or women).
First, you should know, you’re not allowed to date until your married. And, only then, if you’re not still living with your mom and me. But, once you do, steer clear of the ultra-hotties, unless they are those few people who’ve grown up in a place where everyone else is so much hotter, they think they’re ugly. But, honestly, even then, if they’re super-hot and they’re too blind to know it, you’ve gotta wonder what’s going on upstairs.

People who are nice looking, cute, attractive, but not smokin’ hot need to shine by developing into better, more interesting, funnier, more respectful people. Not all do. But, at least you’ve got a better shot at having a great life with a medium hottie than a smokin’ hottie.

PS – This rule does not apply to your mother. Through a freak of genetics and a bizarre 4th grade home-ec accident, she ended up being smokin’ hot and insanely cool. I am sure much the same way you’ll be (sans the home-ec accident). If this is all a bit confusing, it’ll all make sense once you start dating…after your married and moved out of my house.

6. Give a lot, but don’t lose yourself. Maybe the coolest feeling you can get is when you give a lot, help a lot, do a lot for other people, without ever asking for anything in return. It just makes you smile inside. Cooler still is when you figure out ways to give without the other person even knowing it was you who did something nice for them. Do that as much as possible.

But, try not to define who you are by how you satisfy other peoples’ needs. You’ve still gotta be you, have your own personality, opinions, passions, ideas, creations and friendships. Because you’re worth it. So give a ton, but know it’s okay to receive, too.

Unless, of course, you’re receiving something from a boy. Boys are evil. Well, they’re cool, but in an evil kinda way. Until you find the right one…which we’ll both know once I’ve gotten the boy’s file back from uncle Tony in the FBI.

7. Do stuff because it means something. It may take you a while to figure out what doesn’t really change how you feel and what activities and people make you feel deep-down, inside out great. But, when you do, find ways to do those things and be with those people as much as possible. That’s what matters. Not how much you have, but what you do and with whom. Also, try not to use the word “whom.” Ever. It’s proper English, but, seriously, how many people who say whom do you really know…and like?

8. Ask mom for advice. If, after reading the first 7 rules you need to ask why, oy vey, we’ve got a bigger problem than I thought!

Now, here’s the thing, I was going to write down 10 rules, but by the time I hit 8, I realized my hard-fought wisdom might really benefit from the collective wisdom of all you guys…my inspired community.

So, please think for a moment and then share your rules, thoughts and wisdom in the comments below.

If you’ve gotten this far, you’ve probably discovered, Lord knows I need the help!

Together we can grow us a rockstar!

You Don't Need a Bribe To Join This Tribe

Plain and simple. Did you enjoy what you just read? Cool, then get more in your inbox every week. And join this amazing tribe of makers and doers. You know you wanna...

90 responses

90 responses to “8 Timeless Rules For My 8-Year Old Daughter”

  1. Shana Albert says:

    This post was absolutely amazing!! I am a Mommy with a few children. One of these few children just happens to be a 6 year old girl named Hannah. I can relate to this post on a few levels even though it was written by a male. 🙂 It was touching, cute and funny… three of my favorite emotions. Loved it, loved it!!


  2. Jonathan Fields says:

    @ Hey Shana – So glad you enjoyed it, all kidding aside, what an amazing age! We’ll have to get our girls together to hang out one day! Next-gen social -medialites! 🙂

  3. Jarkko says:

    Hey Jonathan! I have to agree with Shana. This post really stopped me to read each word and think about them.

    I think I’ll follow each of your six rules with my son too 🙂

    He’s only nine months old, so I’m not in that much hurry yet – but that also means that I have even less of a clue than you do. But by following your writings, maybe at the time Oiva is six I’ll be a lot wiser than right now.

  4. I’ll add one:

    Do the right thing that your heart tells you to do, no matter how hard that might be.

    This ties in with your number three, because sometimes, the brain and the heart can’t decide. It goes deeper than that, following a gut instinct. Your heart may tell you to stay with the man who hurts you, and your brain knows what the right thing to do is. It’s hard, it’s painful, but do it.

    The same applies to drugs, apologies, and making choices in life that will probably upset me. If you’re following good strong values and the morals I’ve raised you with, then you’ll know the right choice and you’ll make it, no matter what your heart says.

  5. Jonathan Fields says:

    @ Jarkko – Thanks, brother! 9 months, eh, trust me, when they say it goes soooo fast, it really does, so enjoy every giggle!

    @ James – great addition, my friend! Trusting your heart/intuition is so often so hard, but it is also inevitably the most rewarding choice…though, sometimes it takes a while to see that.

  6. Jarkko says:

    @James: I think that’s a great tip. Trusting your heart/intuition is often (or maybe even always?) the best way to go.

    But from a parent’s point of view (this is all still rather theoretical to me as I’m such a newbie in this dad stuff), I’m thinking it will be a hard thing for me to let my kid trust his heart if his heart would say something different than mine…

    Or actually, as a grown up I think that would work OK. I would just think that he needs to decide on his life and leave it at that (yeah, right 😉

    But what about when he’s for example six? If I want to teach him to follow his instincts, I should let him practice that as a kid. But then when he does something that others consider “bad” while following his instincts, how should I react?

    Awww… It’s so complicated 🙂

  7. Nez says:

    I would teach her the value of money, that anything worthwhile takes hard work and good effort.

    I would also instill in her the love of reading, to introduce her to the world of imagination, and to let her experience being in another person’s shoes.

    I’m the father figure to two boys (10 and 6), and finding a balance to “parenting” them and letting them be kids is challenging, to say the least.

  8. Jonathan Fields says:

    @ Jarkko – what a great point. One of the toughest things to do, at least for me, has been to allow my daughter to make decisions that I disagree with and let her mistakes and then learn from them. But, I think this is sooo critical, because, when they do that allows then the sense of self-worth that comes from having grappled with a challenge, making the wrong call, learning from it, making a better call next time and then feeling that sense of pride that underlies confidence and radiance. Of course, this is so much easier said than done, especially, as the decision and the consequences get bigger.

    @ Nez – great advice about the value of money. Working on that too, especially in the context of how fortunate we are, compared to so many others i the world. Wow, two boys, that must be a fun household!

  9. 7. At 15 you will assume you know it all. Especially what’s “in and what’s out”

    8. At 21, you will find out it probably didn’t matter.

    9. You will probably not have the best friend you have in high school later. Even if you have been joined at the hip and text each other all day.

    10. If a guy acts, or especially if he tells you he is not interested and you are just a friend, BELIEVE HIM and look elsewhere.

    11. Your Dad will actually let you out of the house before you are married. Don’t worry.

    12. You will be ashamed of all tattoos by the time you are thirty. Don’t do it or get the removable kind.

    13. Listen to your mother. Your father is a nut case.

  10. Darcy says:

    One of the things my husband said to me when we first had a real conversation (which made me fall in love with him) will be with me for the rest of my life and I will definitely teach it to my children:

    “The person you will become in 5 years is largely dictated by the books that you read and the people you spend your time with.”

    The same is true of tv and movies. Be careful about what you do with your valuable time!

  11. Kristen says:

    That is wonderful. I have a 5 year old daughter and it seems that your list of things to tell your 6 year old may just be what my hubby needs. Especially the part about asking “mom” for advice.
    I would add one more thing-
    Don’t wear make-up till absolutely necessary and even then, wear it only to enhance what you have not cover up what you have.

  12. Your comments are scrambled. Can you fix it or should we start over?

    Love the topic!

  13. Aryn says:

    I’m a 26 yr old single mother of a 5 yr old boy. If there is one thing I hope he retains from me aside from all the love & support I could possibly give him, I hope it is this;

    Learn from your mistakes.

    You can’t very well have regrets if you’ve learned from every experience you’ve ever been through, good or bad. I have learned so much about myself through this way of thinking, I hope I can instill that in him & that he does too.


  14. Cool, I’m game. When it comes to tattoos and horrible warnings, I will let my own experience speak for itself. (Warning: topless pics in link.)

    Other than that, I’ll quote myself (’cause that’s the kind of sicko I am) from a question at Work It, Mom!, “If you could only teach your child one thing, what would it be?”

    Learn to sell.

    “Certain things — compassion, empathy, respect — are essentially inate in children raised in a loving environment where these personality traits are both present and admired. I feel it is our job as parents to teach our children how to be effective adults, and one skill I notice is sadly lacking in both children and adults is how to do a good sales job.

    When I want sushi and my husband wants Indian, the winner is the one who does a better sales job. When I want a raise, my chances of success are determined by my ability to sell. If my kid wants to go to the dance or the mall or the hockey game, they`re not going to get anywhere with whining or complaining or begging — they are going to succeed by selling me on it.

    When my kids grow up, I want them to be able to have anything they want. Whether they want to be the president of a bank or secure millions for their charity or draw caricatures at state fairs or get the funniest girl in school to go out with them, they`re going to get it by sales.”

    To JF’s daughter: If you learn to sell you can sell your dad on letting you get your way. That can include tattoos and moving out before you’re married.

  15. Lynn Truong says:

    One (of the many) things I would like to teach my children is that change is inevitable. No matter how much you love something (pink tattoo) or hate (broccoli) today, no matter how sad or happy you are today, tomorrow brings an opportunity for something to new and different to happen. So enjoy the things you love today, dismiss the things you hate today, relish the happy moments when they happen, and grit your teeth and breathe through those tough times. But know that it changes. Sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. Either way, we grow and move on.

    Really great and touching post, Jonathan!

  16. Jonathan Fields says:

    @ Corinne – Love the additions! Are you calling me a nut case? hehehehe! Still considering the notion of letting my daughter out of the house before she’s 21, hmmm, will have to revisit that in a few more years! 😉

    @ Darcy – I so agree, in fact there is some pretty compelling research about the formative impact of both the people you hang out with and the media you take in.

    @ Kristen – interesting tip about the makeup, see, this is why I need you guys, dad just don’t think about stuff like that!

    @ Love the notion of learning from mistakes. I have a saying…learn from the past, but live in the moment.

    @ Great advice about selling. Unfortunately, I can’t pass that one on to my daughter, because she already wins half the negotiations and, frankly, I just aint ready to give her the skills to win them all! 🙂

    @ Lynn – totally agree, change is good!

  17. merlotmom says:

    Love this blog. And love Lynn’s comment. I, too, have written about how change is good. How we must learn to go with the flow and embrace change – see it as an opportunity. It’s coming whether we like it or not so we need to make the best of it. I manage change by going with my gut. Finding a quiet place to let it speak where I can actually hear it. It has not steered me wrong yet. Thanks for a great blog.

  18. Nez says:

    Hi Jonathan,

    Yes, let’s just say raising two boys is a…challenge.

    Oh, and you touched on another important subject in your response to Jarko, but I’m also trying often to teach how an action has consequences (good, bad, or neutral), especially to the older one.

    I’ve been using dominoes as an analogy, how one action leads to subsequent actions, so if you don’t want this result, then work backwards from there and realize you shouldn’t have done that earlier, etc. A more concrete example: If you want more time on the video game, then doesn’t it make sense to focus on your homework and finish it in 45 minutes, instead of 1.5 – 2 hours?

    I also find I need to repeat core concepts on an almost daily basis to make them into habits for them.

    @ Aryn: So true about learning from mistakes. One thing I make sure to do in front of them is admit it when I make a mistake, and apologize to them even. The older one is still in the habit of making excuses instead of taking responsibility, but we’re working on it…

  19. Jon says:

    One of the few rules we had for the twins was that they had to correct daddy(me) if I was wrong about anything. They would never get into trouble for it as long as they were right and I was wrong.
    They loved it. It made them think, and kept me on my toes.

  20. shelley says:

    dear daughters,

    allow yourself to cry.
    also, feel and exhibit ANY emotion that you have; well maybe not S&M or mascot fetishes, you are still young , but please please please try to be yourself at all times. it may feel wierd, or you might get scared, and other times you will feel like a giant with the secrets of the gods!!… one thing i know for sure; it is amazing to let go and be- if you bottle things up, you will explode.

    be blessed

  21. Julie says:

    I don’t have kids yet, but I’ve been mulling this one over and I came up with one or two more:

    – When you love someone, make sure you tell them. A lot.

    – If you’re having a fight, take a minute to try to see why *they’re* unhappy. Then apologize for it. It’s both the right thing to do, and it makes them more receptive to hearing why *you’re* unhappy.

    – Everyone has a bad day sometimes. Find someone to talk to, get it out of your system, and move on. If you can’t find someone, plants sometimes work too.

  22. Jarkko says:

    @Jon – Great advice! I try to take that one into practice once Oiva is old enough to talk and think by himself (more than a year old, at least 😉

    And everyone, at what age did you start parenting instead of just taking care of your children?

    How do you say no? How often?

    • Rochelle says:

      I say no to my 8 year old every time she wants something I can’t give her or isn’t good for her with an explanation directly after. For example:
      Her: Mom can I color my hair pink?
      Me: No, hair color has chemicals in it that can burn your skin and hurt your liver.

      When she was a toddler I almost never said no I just explained and stopped her from doing what she was doing. For example:

      She is trying to help me plug in the iron.
      I say, that’s hot your gonna get hurt! (more like yelling in this case) Then I give her something she can play with.

  23. Are you kidding me, Jarkko? I have a three-year-old. A very creative, curious, intelligent, bright, crafty, sneaky little three-year-old. I also have a 14-year-old teen who looks like a Revlon model and who cajoles, begs, cries, pleads, slams doors, doesn’t do chores, wants full freedom, and is developing an interest in boys.

    The word no comes out of my mouth at least 158 times every hours.

    I think the day a child is born, you start parenting. Then you learn that children won’t break, they won’t listen, and they will drive you to frustration. That’s when you start taking care of them, because parents just can’t win.

    • Great advice James…

      And maybe, I add, parents win by not winning…

      Maybe not…

      Of course, then you’d have to define “the win.” Oops…


  24. bob says:

    IT’s been a long time since I had 6 yr olds but as I recall, they are full of curiosity and wonder…

    I think it’s more important how you present the rules/advice than the advice it’self… you tell a kid not to do “anything” even with a good explenation beforehand and eventually, they want to do it…

    So, i’d think at that age, instead of giving them this information in “list form” it might be wiser to present this information as a guide when they find themselves in a particular situation…

    for example, instead of saying “don’t smoke”, you might wait for the time your daughter sees some poor schlep who is struggling to breath or smoking out of their trach to ask you “why this is”… than, you can casually say… “smoking” (assuming the cause is indeed smoking and not breathing gray ny air)

    Let them experience the lessons and hardships you want them to learn in small ways and while they are young… just making rules lol, probably seems good while stuck in traffic eating a veggie doughnut and having some great inspiration to fine a simple way to advise our kids we so want to give but in reality… t doesn’t really work that way.

    you fell off your bike and scraped your knee because “why”??? … oh, maybe not paying attention???… don’t talk on the cell phone when you drive a car… of course, at 6 she can’t relate but, at 6 with tears coming down her cheek and a bloody knee, she will understand “paying attention”.

    All of lifes lessons you have already taught her already… the basics anyway… now, it’s just a matter of applying your widon you wish to pass down to her as a “refresher”

    anyway, kids are a blast and tons of fun! you can’t buy that kind of entertaainment…

    oh, and another thing you can do is instead of trying to give her your wsdom, maybe find the wisdom her (as with all children) have to offer… maybe you will find she has better advice:)?? (i did in som many ways)..

    ok, that’s my 2 cents for the day.

  25. Jonathan Fields says:

    @ merlotmom – definitely agree on the notion of finding a place/way to create a small slice of stillness and let the inner voice come, though I wonder how open kids really are to this.

    @ Jon – interesting thought on keeping you honest by allowing welcoming their effort at proving you wrong. hmmmm….

    @ shelley – emotion yes, SM, um, nooooooo!

    @ Julie – yeah, completely agree with the idea of telling people you love them every day, probably reinforced by having been in NYC during 9-11 and knowing people that were there one minute and gone the next.

    @ Jarkko & James – gotta agree that parenting starts from the get-go, setting boundaries, creating safety and expectations and cultivating confidence, love, compassion, all that good stuff. James, I’ve got a bit until I have the pleasure of seeing my daughter through her teen years, but I just can’t wait! 😉

    @ awesome advice! And, i am definitely amazed at how much i learn just watching her every day, especially about simply being present in what you do. Seems we have soooo much trouble holding onto that as we grow up!

    Love all the additions, guys!

    PS – I know there is a formatting problem with the comments for people using IE 7.0 that happened when we launched the revamped design last week, should be worked out Monday/Tuesday at the latest, thanks for hanging in there.

  26. @ Jonathan – Wait. Seriously. Wait. Lock your girl up. Tell her she can’t become a teen. Bribe her and say that if she skips from 12 to 28, you’ll buy her a pony.

  27. Jonathan Fields says:

    @ James – what, you thought I was kidding when I said she wasn’t allowed to date until she was married?! Pony, eh, I was thinking convent, followed by arranged marraige…though we’d have to convert, first! 😉

  28. @ Jonathan – Convent is a double-edge sword. She’ll be awash with purity and holiness, but she’ll come home every weekend and lecture you on what a sinful person you are. I thought about it and then remembered how often I curse out loud. Bad deal.

  29. Jarkko says:

    @James, @Jonathan: Yeah, I agree you guys – but I guess I’m using wrong words… 🙂

    I mean, naturally I need to set limits making sure my son doesn’t fall and hurt himself, and so on. But really, at this age, he doesn’t yet do things thinking about whether it’s allowed or not, and if I say no, I don’t think it means anything to him. By this I mean, making the limits and stuff is actually about protecting him and making him feel safe, not that much about raising him.

    So, my question more or less is, how does this change when he starts understanding the word no… 🙂 But thinking about your answers, maybe it doesn’t change that much… What do you think?

  30. Katie says:

    Here are some of the gems that either myself or others around our family have passed on to my 8 year old son.

    – ‘Why’ isn’t just the second last letter of the alphabet, it’s the most important question you can ask.

    – Good manners might not get you everywhere, but they sure help.

    – There are times when you have to make your own mistakes and learn from them and there are times when it’s best to learn from the mistakes of others.

    – Tickling your opponent while playing video games isn’t cheating, the first time at least!

    Also, as an aside, one thing I learned as a teenage girl, with teenage friends and now as a friend of parents with teenage girls; all teenage girls will go through a stage where they hate you, claim oppression, scream, cry, slam doors and say no one understands them, however one day they will grow out of it and be grateful to the loving family that put up with it, even if they never admit it.

  31. @ Jarkko – No doesn’t work. No is a clear do-not-go-there that no child can resist. Or at least, my child can’t resist. Firmly saying no is like screaming YES! PLEASE DO IT at the top of my lungs, to her. Here’s how I handle it.

    Potential danger or harm: “If you do that and fall, you’ll hurt yourself. I’m warning you.” I’ve done what I could. If she’s going to be belligerent and stubborn and continues with the action, she must deal with the consequences, usually a fall, a bump, or a pinched finger.

    Serious danger or risk of major bodily injury: “Don’t do that! You could electrocute/cut yourself open/drill a hole through your leg/drown/suffocate and die! And if you died, I’d be so sad!” It’s not a no, and it explains the results and consequences. Granted, she’s pretty sharp at her age, so this may not work with all kids. But it’s not no.

    One-two-three: Better than no. “If you don’t stop/put that down/do this, then I’m going to count to three. At three, you get a time out. OOOOONNNE….TWWWWOOOO….TWO AND A HALF….” She usually grumbles and stops about there.

    Good luck, bro. *pats on back* You’re on your own.

    • Yes, Jarkko, run–don’t walk–out and grab the master series of Love & Logic…

      How to set boundaries… and remain semi-sane.

      And I ask myself why it is I am writing this to James… ha…

      Maybe it’s something to do with the 2 year old screaming “daaaaddddyyy….daaaaaddddeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee…..” at the top of her lungs upstairs for the last hour! Ahhhhh….

      Give it is nearly 2 am perhaps I should be the one screaming!

  32. Jarkko says:

    Thanks, James!

    I’m looking forward to all of that. It’s going to be interesting 😉

  33. Don’t feel bad, Jonathan.

    All fathers of little girls are nut cases.

    They remember well what they got away with when it came to girls.

  34. 7. If you feel like you have to convince people you’re in love or ready for marriage – you aren’t.

  35. sharon says:

    Letting go is hard to do. Even when she is 30, she’ll still be your little girl. I’m not a mother (yet) and I already know that feeling. She’s not getting married until she’s 35. When my nieces want to start dating, they have to go through interviews with the father and mother, background & credit checks and then a sit down talk with aunty sharon (yes, they’re in Malaysia…if the boy is really interested, he’ll have to fly 23 hours to New Jersey for it). They say parents are odd, they don’t know how much their aunts and uncles can be. We planned this the day the first niece was born.

  36. nova says:

    7. Treat your body well: learn the habits necessary to take care of your body and health now, before problems happen. appreciate the good health you have and what it takes to stay there.

    even if your kids aren’t allowed/exposed to junk food, teaching them what the body needs to stay healthy, and what can happen when it doesn’t get what it needs, is important. i know it ties in with the smoking, but the consequences can include why grandma has diabetes, or why mom had to have her gallbladder taken out as examples.

    8. Everything in moderation — my favorite personal motto, applies to everything except love.

    9. Do nice things for other people, just because it makes you feel good.

  37. Jonathan Fields says:

    @ James – hmmm, good point about the convent, gotta still be able to get away with stuff as a dad. and nice follow-up Jarkko, wisdom from someone a few more years down the fatherhood rabbit hole than I!

    @ Jarkko – When it comes down to it, I think we all just do the best we can. Want to set boundaries and avoid pain, but also encourage exploration, growth and confidence. It’s a dynamic tension that changes from day to day!

    @ Katie – love the additional rules! though, I have to confess to leaning strongly toward the one about tickling during video games not being cheating! 🙂

    @ Corinne – no problemo, it’s actually a bit freeing knowing the world thinks most dad are a bit nuts!

    @ Hayden – ahhh, knew we had to get one on love and marriage during Valetine’s Day week!. Thanks!

    @ Sharon – great one about letting go! Hey, if you pay my airfare, I am happy to spend a week in Malaysia interviewing your niece’s fiance then lying on the beach…so you don’t have to suffer the journey!

    @ Nova – I love your #9, to me, that’s realy what this whole thing is all about. Thanks!

  38. Shay says:

    Great blog! It sounds like you’re all doing an awesome job with your children. Kudos to you all!
    My golden rule on child raising is “Do not teach with words, teach by example.” If you want your babies to grow up to be honest, then be honest yourself.
    Don’t hide your emotions from them-let them know that its OK to cry if you are sad.
    Never EVER tell them – or allow anyone else to tell them that they are bad. Let them know they are a good person even if they have done something wrong.
    Always take time to play. Go outside and jump in puddles with them. The laughter will stay with you both for the rest of your lives.
    No matter how angry you are, NEVER send them to bed without a hug and an “I love you” You don’t know if one of you won’t wake up in the morning.
    Take the time to really listen to what they are saying. It might sound like childish prattle to you, but its really important to them.
    Love them and enjoy them – they are irreplaceable.

  39. Jonathan Fields says:

    @ Shay – Thanks so much for your thoughts! Awesome advice about teaching by example, revealing emotions, honesty and love! I especially like the one about not sending them to bed without a hug, though I wonder how hard this can get as they get older. At 6, its a piece of cake, I hope I can keep that going for as long as she’s under my roof…or at least until she starts to date at age 60! heeheehee!

  40. Shareen says:

    1. Equal Rights mean equal opportunity, not equal results, (and who’d want them anyway if it did) Results depend on your ability to learn and willingness to do the work it takes, in alignment with your morals, to get you to where and what you want to be.

    2. Know what you stand for and what is important to you. Then measure every choice against those. Often one option/decision/choice will be in alignment with them and the other may be close but often will be in direct opposition of at least one of your beliefs. Measure what others say and DO against that same yard stick. If you are always going with your true self in that manner, you will sustain happiness.

    3. Be appreciative of this exact moment. Don’t waste your life focused on what you don’t have or what you’d like someday or the perfect future. Look for the perfect in this moment, because parents do outlive their kids, you can die in a freak accident, or your body may not be able to sustain one more breath without warning. Along those lines..

    4. Say I love you, and mean it, as often as you can.

    5. Laugh, laugh, laugh. Spontaneously, joyfully. Act how you want to feel, not the other way around.

    That’s it. I really loved what you had to say and how you say it in ways that make me smile. You captured some really good rules that I am going to add to share with my four boys.

  41. carolyn says:

    – Make decisions based upon “If I woke up tomorrow to read about me doing this on the front page of the paper, would I still do it?”

    – Even on the cruddiest of days, there is something to be grateful for.

    – If it didn’t flat out kill you, you will survive it.

    – Regret is pointless. Learn from it and move on.

    – Do what brings you joy. The rest will follow.

  42. carolyn says:

    Just a quick question for those that have posted here. If you have children in your life, have you actually shared these words of wisdom with them? Do it now, before you can’t. Don’t wait until they are “a little older” or until the “right time comes along”. You never know when you might not have another chance to tell them. They’ll thank you for it. (and tell them you love them. as if it’s the last thing you’ll ever say) http://www.helpfindachild.com

  43. April Ort says:

    If you aren’t a professional writer, you are in the wrong business. As the mother of a six year old daughter, I can relate to you wonderful advice and I admire your sense of humor!

  44. Shay says:

    Hi Jonathan
    In answer to your question on how hard it is to hug your children every night…my youngest is 17 now and she still gets hugged every night. If my two sons were still home, they would be getting hugged too.(They are 19 and 21 and were hugged until they left the nest.) Sometimes she groans at me, but she still enjoys it,and she won’t go to bed without her hug. We shop together and she holds my hand as we walk through the mall. I love the relationship we have.
    Yes Carolyn, I have shared with my children – I believe that is what gives us such a strong bond.

  45. Gofling Girl says:

    Realize that they are ALWAYS paying attention and learning from you. At every opportunity, tell them how and why you’re doing what you’re doing, even if it’s just why you’re adding an ingredient to dinner or how or why you’re balancing a checkbook. I’m amazed at what my 4-year-old retains/notices.

  46. […] Jonathan Fields of Awake At the Wheel provides us with 6 rules for life that he came up with for his daughter. A new father myself of a beautiful baby girl, these are 6 pieces of advice that caused me to laugh out loud and appreciate. Check out his fatherly advice in “Six Timeless Rules for My 6-Year Old Daughter” […]

  47. […] Fields of Awake@theWheel wrote 6 Timeless Rules for My Six Year Old Daughter and rule #5 is definitely my favorite! 5. Don’t…date smokin’ hot men (or women). […]

  48. […] To get this series off and running, Jonathan Fields of Awake At The Wheel has graciously shared his take. Thank you Jonathan for your thoughts. Be sure to jump over and check out all his work as well as one of my favorite posts, Six Timeless Rules For My 6-Year Old Daughter. […]

  49. Jen says:

    As a youngish (that’s a word, right?) woman without tattoos, the first two rules bring a smile to my face. Maybe I’m too forward thinking to ever get a tattoo or maybe too much of a chicken. At any rate, at least I won’t come to regret having one like some of my other friends have.

  50. […] always had this deep desire to show my 7-year old daughter, Jesse, just how interconnected we are to others around the world. Living in NYC has made the task quite a […]

  51. annakat says:

    Imagine this 5’1, 100# Cute Blondie with a rose tattoo 2″ from her belly button. Cute huh! Well let me tell you honey it was. That was 45 years ago. As I grew so did the rose, the darn thing grew to over 300 pounds at one time in my life. I tried to tell my husband it wasn’t me that gained all that weight it was my rose tattoo. You know how tattoo’s are, you can’t trust them. The thing almost cost me my life. Finally I got the thing under control and lost the excess weight and the darn thing got me again, it turned into a giant prune. Here I am over 60 years old with a large prune tattoo.

  52. […] The first time I did this was when I was writing a post that I’d planned to be a set of funny rules for my then 6-year old daughter. My intention was to write 10 rules. But, then Liz’s voice popped into my head and I stopped writing at 6 and turned it over to the community to finish and what unfolded in the comments was amazing. […]

  53. Desiree Fawn says:

    My advice: listen to your parents, even if they seem completely unreasonable — remember that they were your age once too.
    Eventually when you are the same age as mom or dad you will look back & understand why.

  54. […] collection of rules for the author’s 6 year old daughter.  I’d suggest visiting JonathonField’s blog for […]

  55. Victor Paul says:

    Very insightful coming from one of us dads. Amazingly thoughtful “rules” and the feedback you received only added to it. More like this elsewhere in your blog??? let’s go find out…

  56. Diane says:

    I would add these:
    1. Remember that you are a child of the universe; you have value and place in this world.
    2. Leave the world a better place than it was when you got here.
    3. Don’t text, talk on the phone, and drink a latte of any kind while driving
    4. No one will have your best interest in mind as much as you will
    5. Follow your strengths
    6. live with love
    7. Don’t take yourself too seriously
    8. Be kind
    9. The smile you send out returns to you
    10. Live every moment

  57. Mary says:

    Don’t forget, as you get older, to take time to play!

  58. Susan Greene says:

    Great comments all. Can I add a few to the bunch? These are things my husband and I often say to our two children:

    1) It’s nice to be nice.

    2) Wake up with a smile.

    3) Be a good roommate, which we extend to mean be considerate of others with whom you share a common space. (My husband and I met in a college dorm. Can you tell?)

  59. […] The first time I did this was when I was writing a post that I’d planned to be a set of funny rules for my then 6-year old daughter. My intention was to write 10 rules. But, then Liz’s voice popped into my head and I stopped writing at 6 and turned it over to the community to finish and what unfolded in the comments was amazing. […]

  60. […] The first time I did this was when I was writing a post that I’d planned to be a set of funny rules for my then 6-year old daughter. My intention was to write 10 rules. But, then Liz’s voice popped into my head and I stopped writing at 6 and turned it over to the community to finish and what unfolded in the comments was amazing. […]

  61. Lisa Cruz Smith says:

    Hello everyone –

    My name is Lisa C. and I am now 12 yeas old. I thought it would be beneficial for everyone to get my perspective on this smoking issue. First off a really quick history; I had my first cigarette at age of 6, believe it or not. At the time my school was located directly behind my house so each day I would walk to and from school. No more than a few hundred yards. On one particular day, when school let out it was just raining cats- and-dogs. My 3rd grade teacher, Ms Clark (not her real name) motioned me over to her car so I would at least be able to stay dry. As I was sitting in her car, I had noticed a pack of cigarettes in her purse. This was really something thrilling to me, because I did not know or believed teachers smoked. Well as stupid as I was, I ask Ms Clark if I could have one. She hesitated and gave a brief laugh and then to my surprise she said “sounds like a good ideal to me”. She took a cigarette and lit it and then passed the pack to me. I took one out, leaned over a got a light from Ms Clark. While I was extremely nervous, I must admit that this was something I was really enjoying. I finished my cigarette and Ms Clark was still working on hers. It stopped raining, I got down and went home. Not much developed with my smoking for about the next two years. At the beginning of 5th grade, I think I was 8 years old then, I began to smoke quite often – a pack a day regularly. What trigger this was Ms Clark again! But certainly not her fault. My mom and I were in the bowling alley eating and Ms Clark was sitting at a table right by us. After eating my mom left briefly to go do something, make a call or something, I got up and went and sat at Ms Clark’s table. This time I did not have to ask Ms Clark for a cigarette, she offered. I accepted, and while we both were there smoking my mom had come back. She observed what was going on, and to tell you the truth she seemed unmoved by the whole episode. On one had I was surprised that she did not go through the roof, but on the other had I was pleased that she was not going to have a heart attack. I had really never felt the need to hide my smoking from anyone, even my mom and dad who both soon came to just accept the fact that I was a truly adolescent smoker. It is really funny, between the age of 8 and 11 I did not have too hard of a time purchasing cigarettes, but that soon ended and stores began to refuse me. This is when my mom and dad began to give me some help with purchasing my cigarettes. Smoking is a stupid thing to do and I do not advocate it to anyone, especially children as young as I. I do enjoy smoking, but this is a decision I made for myself. I am now 12 years old and I am not overly thrilled about having a smoking habit at such a young age. Be that as it may, and like I said, I do enjoy immensely smoking. My schools in the past, as well as my new school have really been a big help to me in providing for a safe and secure place for me to smoke while I am at school. I am not sure if I really agree with all of my schools supporting me, but I certainly was not going to turn down any of the offers that were made to me. My gosh, my current school has applied less restrictive smoking rules onto me that what they apply to the school staff, including the teachers. To me this is ridiculous, so while I am at school, more times than not, I find myself imposing a limited smoking policy on myself. I try my best to stay on par with what the school staff and teachers have to abide by. I have to run for now, my youth group is meeting soon. I could write more later if anyone has any interest at all in hearing more on my perspective of adolescent smoking, Just let me know. I am not too sure if I am 8 or 9 in this 5th grade picture of me. My mom says I was smoking a pack a day when this picture was taken, but to be truthful I think smoking was still a novel thing to me and I believe I was smoking a bit more than a pack a day. Perhaps a pack and a half would be closer to the truth. Proud? ABSOLUTELY NOT!! Enjoyable? I would have to give a resounding yes to that. Stupid? You bet. If you have questions you may contact me at Lisacruzmith@gmail.com

    Lisa C.

  62. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by twittybean: 8 Timeless Rules For My 8-Year Old Daughter http://bit.ly/9G05Ht

  63. Lindsey says:

    This is so lovely. My father wrote me a letter with his “rules of life” when I went to college. I have a seven year old and am often completely overcome with how grown up she seems, and how aware of things, and how bold and insecure at the same time – strong and fragile; its as though in her big brown eyes I can see, simultaneously, the baby she was and the woman she will be. Eeek. It daunts me, this responsibility. Thank you for inspiring me to write some stuff down!

  64. Paul Bogush says:

    I tell my daughters:
    Always use your words to lift people up, never to put them down.

  65. Gwen McIntyre says:

    I love the list – I have 2 daughters and so much here rings true. I would add 2 things to the list.

    1 – Don’t hold a grudge. You don’t have to forgive and forget but holding a grudge or any type of bad feelings towards another is harder on you than them. Forgiving them will free you.

    2 – You are going to get hurt. There are no ups without the downs. And although something may feel like the worst thing to ever happen to you, life will probably prove you wrong and throw something worse your way in the future. Grieve and make peace with whatever happens and don’t forget to move on with your life.

  66. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jonathan Fields, Liz Strauss, remarkablogger, positivityblog, mariussescu and others. mariussescu said: 8 Timeless Rules For My 8-Year Old Daughter http://ff.im/-fBrQL […]

  67. Learn the joy of work. Not the insanity of a rat race or some puritanical approach, but with the sheer enrichment that comes from learning how to do a task well, tackle the pile of whatever is waiting, and come out the other side with a deep sense of accomplishment and knowledge.

    In particular, learn the joy of working with your family. Doing dishes with your parents, vacuming under Dad’s toes whilst he tries to be important. Work done well, with people you love, is its own form of profound reward.

    My brothers all worked paper routes for a year to send me to Africa on a scholarship almost 25 years ago. Working to provide something for others is also a powerful thing. I now have four small children (all still under 8). I hope they will have that kind of love for each other and be able to put that love into action. Love is a verb too.

  68. Dana says:

    Will add: Laugh, laugh, laugh… but my 9-year-old gal’s got this part down.

    Lovely, funny post. Thank you.

  69. Margie Mintz says:

    HI Jonathan,

    2 quick comments:

    One is an anecdote form our (then) 4 year old neighbor.
    We were in the driveway chatting one day when he told me that he was going to be turning 4 soon. Then, he said,”You know how I know?” “tell me” “easy. 1, 2, 3 then 4!”
    My husband and I quote this often because it’s one of those little bits of obviousness that sometimes seem to elude us ‘sophisticated’ adults! Along those lines, I like it because it’s so clear to Max that 2 follows 1, etc., but to us, in our complicated lives, we have a tendency to get stuck, and wonder where to go, or what to do next, and often the answer is just to take the next step.

    The other point is about jumping in without knowing what to expect. All I know is that if people had all of the facts before going after a dreams, they would lie dormant, because of seeming impossible.

    Thanks so much, Jonathan,
    Margie Mintz

  70. Suzyn says:

    My favorite parent-to-child advice comes from books: Rudyard Kipling’s “If” (if you can keep your head while all around you are losing theirs..), Polonius’s advice to Laertes (Hamlet A1ScIII, to thine own self be true), and the incomparable Dr. Seuss’ Oh the Places You’ll Go! (KID, YOU’LL MOVE MOUNTAINS!)

  71. bchase says:

    Always remember that even if no-one else knows what you did, you will. Use that as a guiding light for morals and ethics and you should be good to go.

    The above bit of wisdom comes from the response that my dad always gave me when I used the perennial favorite “no-one will know” as a way of getting around doing what was right. He never said anything other than “you’ll know”.

    Great post.

  72. Learn how to ask good questions. It’s much more important than knowing the answers. Especially since the answers you know today will change as soon as tomorrow.

    And the questions that are good ones today won’t be the best ones to ask tomorrow.

    Change is all that’s constant and you gotta keep asking to keep growing (and living)

  73. Bob Bessette says:

    Hi Jonathan,
    I also have daughters; two of them. One is off at college for the first time and the other is also a freshman, but in high school. I guess “Never go to bed angry” is something that we have tried to instill in our children. Almost like the Waltons (I know I am dating myself) we will say goodnight to each other and “I love you” each evening. It’s funny, growing up we would never say “I Love You” to our parents regularly. But, I’ve gotten used to it with my kids and I like it.
    When we see how happy our eldest is to come home to us from college, we have learned that we have done a really good job. And when my eldest said to me a while back. “Dad, one thing I’ve learned from you is to never look down on anyone. You always show people with the most menial of jobs, respect.” When you hear things like this from your kids it is really heartening…


  74. duffy says:

    Sweet post on a ‘timeless’ subject.

    I echo @Shay’s advice about teaching by example. Hypocrisy is a plague.

    As a dad to a 10 year old boy I’d like to add a couple more from the parenting perspective. One is from Love and Logic Parenting, which teaches grownups how to make the most of the times when your child makes the inevitable mistake or poor decision:

    [from http://www.loveandlogic.com] “Many ideas, offered with the best of intentions, center around making sure that kids are comfortable and feeling good about themselves in order to have a good self- concept. However, we have discovered that self-confidence is achieved through struggle and achievement, not through someone telling you that you are number one. Self-confidence is not developed when kids are robbed of the opportunity to discover that they can indeed solve their own problems with caring adult guidance.”

    The other is owning your own mistakes and apologizing to your child when you’ve done something “wrong”. We all lose our temper on occasion. I say or do something I didn’t mean more often than I care to admit. It’s easy to brush it off, but I believe my son deserves more. And it sets the example that I hope he takes to heart in his teenage years, actions have consequences.

  75. Jesse says:

    8. Choose your attitude. (Allow yourself to be a little cranky, sad, or mad at the world, and then move on.)
    9. If you can’t find it now, it always turns up somewhere, later. (Quit looking, already! This doesn’t apply to tattoos.)
    10. If you don’t like (broccoli, fish, artichokes) now, you probably will when you grow up. It’s an acquired taste thing. (Shouldn’t be used when discussing beer, wine or tattoos.) Loved the picture with the post!

  76. Hey Jonathan. My daughter is 9 and I have thought of many of the same ideas you have. Except it is Uncle Jack in the NSA doing my background checks. My only advice to add, be polite. Not even nice, just polite. Please, thank you, I’m sorry, and excuse me can bridge more misunderstandings and help to reinforce some of our societies crumbling values. I guess you could add, don’t do anything that you would be embarrassed for your dad to see in someone elses blog post. I am watching.

  77. Great stuff Jonathan… I’m inspired to write my or publicize my most recent 6 year old letter and 2 year old…

    Love the smoking story and think the “don’t date hot” is excellent advice! How true that is…

    And I mean that in every possible way… think about it.

    You might also add, to the #7 reference to “dont’ use ‘whom'”–never use the typical american slang sentance, “where you AT?”

    Where are you at? — it’s a nonsensical sentance that 99% of American’s thinks is the Queen’s english.

    Embarrassing as hell when you date someone from across the pond!

    Off to read last edition.


  78. […] Timeless Rules For My 8-Year Old Daughter: Adorable and oh-so-true! Alright, I disagree with the tattoo comments, but other than that this […]

  79. scotrov1 says:

    Cool article!! I thought that you came up with some very good tips about considering having a tattoo. It is something that really is important and I thought you brought that out well! I love tattoos I have them everywhere, I started when I was 19 and still havn’t stopped!!! I think that people need to understand that tattoos are not just sexy but they are artistic too!!! Keep up the good work my fellow tattoo seeker!!!

  80. Stella says:

    Don’t know if you were serious about typing while driving or not. All I know is that this bit stopped me dead. I was no longer interested in reading the post, because I was too busy thinking about all the daughters (sons) out there who might be killed, or lose their parents, because someone could not take a minute to pull over and type up the “oh so important” information they had to impart to those kids.

    Texting while driving? Seriously. Maybe the timeless rules list should start with:

    * Respect your life and that of others. THINK how your actions — like texting or doing anything else while driving–can affect your life and the lives of others.

    This applies to a lot more than texting while driving, of course. There’s the drinking while driving, doing drugs, etc.

    You might add that old caveat: Just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t make it “right” or something YOU should do.

    All your advice means nothing if someone isn’t around to hear it.

  81. Julie Roads says:

    Here’s the advice that I wish some older, wiser woman had told me way back when:

    When the two hottest (yes, smokin’) senior guys in your high school show up at your (freshman) window at midnight in the middle of winter – and throw pennies to wake you up and ask you sweetly to come hang out with them when you open the window to talk to them –
    1. Say ‘yes’ absolutely (that part I got right). Seriously, this is an adventure to be had.
    2. Close the window (that part I got wrong).
    3. Turn off your bedroom light that you turned on to get dressed in your very finest sneaking out garb (that part I got wrong).
    4. Close your bedroom door when you run through it to get outside to the hot boys (that part I also got wrong).

    I got SO busted (and nearly killed my father by giving him a heart attack – making him think I’d been kidnapped) – because of these mistakes. And I made these mistakes because I got seriously caught up, dizzily caught up. (See your dad’s rule #3)

    The real lesson here is this: no matter how exciting, how hot, how extraordinary the dangling carrot is – never forget to secure the fortress. (and, yes, I mean all of that metaphorically)


  82. Jillian says:

    What a wonderful sentiment! Here’s my addition:

    There will be pain – emotional and otherwise. Embrace the struggle, and grow through it. It will make you stronger because you’ll always carry it with you.

    And for Daddy – The hardest part of parenting (especially parenting a girl) is watching her heart break and being powerless to thwart it. Just be prepared, and be the example.

    Thanks for brightening my day with this post!

  83. yulius says:

    nice article for night reading. thanks john

  84. Koen says:

    Great blog. I enjoyed every word reading it. And yes the situation looks familiar. I have 3 kids myself (3,5 2,5 and 6 months).

    With this age there is just one comment on the tattoo thing. I allow 1 kind of tattoo, namely a temporary safety tattoo to prevent problems when your kid might get lost.

    Keep up the good work.


  85. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Maarten Verkoren and Erin Gaynor, Cristian Muñoz. Cristian Muñoz said: @verkoren 8 timeless rules for my 8-year old daughter http://bit.ly/dlUyi8 // Good advice!!!… RT… Greeting for Chile… 🙂 […]

  86. Dom says:

    I was born without father since I was 6months old inside mom’s womb and I am not a father still at age 31 this post is definitely encouraging me to already start my own family.