Author Interview with Thomas B. Haller, M.Div., MSW, DST, The 10 Commitments: Parenting with Purpose
Prior to the birth of our children, mothers frequently pass the days of our pregnancies studying “what to expect” books and manuals, pondering each passing phase and development. However, many new parents find themselves swamped once the child arrives, and parenting manuals frequently gather dust on the bookshelves as well intentioned moms and dads struggle just to keep everyone fed, clothed and relatively clean. By the time our children reach school age, most of us are so busy driving them to their various activities that we take little time for parenting enrichment.
One new resource for parents, the latest book by Chick Moorman and Thomas Haller, The 10 Commitments: Parenting with Purpose (Personal Power Press, December 2004, hardcover, 157 pages), is well worth the time of any parent. In this book, the authors challenge parents to adopt a new approach – “grace-full” parenting. Using real-life examples and practical ideas, the book lays forth ten commitments every parent should make towards putting the role of parent and the family unit at the top of one’s priority list. Regardless of the age or number of children in your family, the book is a sound and inspiring primer and a reminder of the importance of truly engaging in our job and blessing as parents.
I am pleased to share the following conversation with author Thomas Haller on committing to “grace-full” parenting.
Q: Thanks so much for your time and participation in this interview, and for your book The 10 Commitments: Parenting with Purpose. Could you please share with our readers why you and Chick Moorman decided to come together in partnership to write this book and what your goal is for the book?
A: As a Pastor and a licensed couples and family therapist I joined forces with Chick, an educator with over 40 years of teaching experience, to inspire and encourage Christian parents to raise responsible, caring, confident children with gentleness and love.
Our goal is to challenge parents to examine the strategies they are using and how they are choosing to be as a parent. No parent wants to reduce their child’s self-esteem or leave their child feeling as if they are a no good, worthless person, yet many of the strategies that parents are being taught today are about parental power, control, and end up fixing blame and creating shame. We are encouraging parents to change the face of parenting and we offer a way to do just that.
Q: Please briefly discuss the basic focus of the book, to assist parents with the goal of committing to the job of parenting.
A: All the other parenting books are about what you should do; The 10 Commitments is about how you should be. Your beingness is as crucial as your doingness. Think about this, the more you nurture your child’s spirit as you parent them, the more you are able to let your child parent themselves.
Q: How did you determine which ten commitments were the most important and is there one commitment that underpins the ten as the most significant?
A: Each commitment is crucial to the role of parenting and can stand alone as an effective piece in a parenting repertoire. The 10 commitments literally embodies all that it means to be a parent, much like the 10 commandments embodies all that it means to be a child of God. No one commitment is more important that another. Some parents have found one particular commitment to be more important to their family while other parents find a different commitment to be key for them.
Q: For parents of adolescents, is it too late to commit to effective parenting?
A: It is never too late to make a commitment to raising responsible children. The techniques and strategies presented in the 10 commitments are effective at any age, no matter when you start. The key is that you start.
Q: What role does faith play in effective parenting? How can parents work to pass along their faith and values to their children?
A: Each one of us has been called by God to nurture the soul of our child. This is a calling of the highest order. Your calling is sacred. You are the soul model who has been entrusted with the sacred art of parenting with grace, gentleness, and love. Great parents are great because their children respect them and not because their children fear them. God does not call the qualified, He qualifies the called. Your faith enables you to hear the call and to respond. Your children learn about this faith as they see you live out your calling.
Q: Please discuss the concept of helping children to develop and live by their own “inner authority”.
A: Children manage their own behavior from the inside out. We call this an inner authority. You no longer have to be the one who is in control of your child; you are not in charge of him. Your child is in control of himself, he is in control of his choices and the outcomes of those choices. Our commitment is to help our children develop this inner authority. It is this inner authority that we take with us wherever we go. How to teach children to listen to their inner authority and respond to it, is the focus of the seventh commitment.
Q: How can a parent with a troubled child transition from “fixing blame” to searching for and implementing solutions?
A: Committing to searching for solutions means that you commit to focusing on the process of helping your children learn how to solve their problems rather than relying on punishment to teach the lesson. You create an atmosphere where your child sees you as joining them in combating the problem. You are on the same side with your child fixing the problem. You invest time in solution seeking rather then telling your child what to do. You believe in teaching a desired behavior rather than creating discipline around undesired behaviors. You help your children see themselves as solution-seeking individuals in their own right.
Q: You discuss the importance of seeing our children as teachers. What are some of the lessons you’ve learned from your own children?
A: I have two boys ages 8 and 5. They teach me many lessons every day. They continually challenge me to see the spirit and soul of all of God’s creatures. A few years ago while visiting a horse show my youngest son asked, “Dad, what happens to the horses when they get old and the people are done riding them?” His question and the discussion that followed led me and my wife to build a horse rescue and retirement ranch. Chick joined us in this endeavor and now one dollar from every 10 Commitments book sold goes to Healing Acres Equine Retirement Ranch. This began with a concern for the spirit of horses from a three year old.
Q: What are some practical, tangible steps parents can take to create “family oneness”? Is it possible to maintain this unity as children age and become increasingly independent?
A: Are you creating the “OUR family” feeling or the “MY family” feeling with your parenting techniques? Do you more often use the words I/me/my or us/we/our? Do you attempt to create a shared control style of family management, or do you run the show with little input from other family members? Do you include strategies to build unity on your “to do” list, or do you leave that important issue to chance?
Do you model closeness and affection for your children? Are you actively working to preserve the traditions of your family? Have you created a family tree? Do you have a nostalgia corner in your home? Are there favorite family stories that get retold frequently? Do you look for opportunity to add to the folklore that is part of your family history?
Do you invest time in creating and observing rituals that you family can look forward to with anticipation? Will you create memories to pass on to future generations by establishing a ritual that recognizes special events or shared family values?
Do you see your family as a priority, or do you strive to succeed at work first? Do you place family first?
Every family is unique and will change and grow over time. You can strengthen family unity and help your children sink roots whether they are six or sixteen. The commitment to family stays the same the implementation of that commitment changes as a child’s independence grows. See their growth as adding new tradition and memories to the family. Encourage them to bring to the family their new sense of the world around them and embrace their growth.
Q: Are there any closing thoughts you’d like to share?
If you have only 2 books on your self, you want one of them to be The Bible and the one right next to it to be the Bible of parenting, The 10 Commitments Parenting with Purpose, because if you want to do graceful parenting and become a soul model for your children, then you need to follow The 10 Commandments and The 10 Commitments.
For more information on the work of Thomas Haller visit www.thomashaller.com and www.healingacres.com.
For more information on The 10 Commitments: Parenting with Purpose visit www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0961604670/catholicmomcom
About the Author: Lisa M. Hendey, wife, mother and webmaster of www.CatholicMom.com and www.ChristianColoring.com is an avid reader and writes from Fresno, California. Visit her at www.lisahendey.com for more information.