# 3 Commandment for Making a Happy Child Into Your Lifelong Friend

III: Never make sarcastic remarks to a child much less say snide or ironic things meant to put them in their place. The worst parent (aside from a neglectful abuser) is a score-settling parent.

Mea culpa!

If you want your child to trust you they can’t be thinking you’ll put them down or make them the butt of a joke they don’t even understand. You’re not competing with them or trying to be the funniest person in the room.

It should never feel risky to be with a mother or father. You should be their safest place, not a standup comic picking on an audience member.

Be a smartass with other grownups if you must. Be serious and kind with your child.

(to be continued in this space tomorrow…)

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Frank Schaeffer is a writer and author of Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back .

About Frank Schaeffer

Frank Schaeffer is an American author, film director, screenwriter and public speaker. He is the son of the late theologian and author Francis Schaeffer. He became a Hollywood film director and author, writing several internationally acclaimed novels including And God Said, "Billy!" as well as the Calvin Becker Trilogy depicting life in a fundamentalist mission home-- Portofino, Zermatt, and Saving Grandma.

  • http://Patheos threeten2yuma


    Here’s a personal illustration that still hurts me to recall. Our now five year old grandson, Aron, has a great sense of humor. He laughs easily and loves to have fun with those he loves. He gets this from his father who has the same love of life personality. Aron can even laugh at himself at absurd things that sometimes happen, which I’ve always considered a pretty mature trait in a child his age.

    Aron and I have a very close relationship. We’re “buddies.” We do lots and lots of different things together that’s just stuff only we do, like: look at the planet Jupiter and the moon and the stars at night while laying on our backs side by side in the back yard; say, “Godspeed, Marine!” whenever we see the Harrier jets from the local Marine Corps Air Station; play “Basketball Jones,” complete with Grandpa singing the song, including the exaggerated falsettos and base lines, on the old hoop out back that Aron’s mommy and uncle used to use when they were teens; and so many more things for which I’m grateful to God every time we do them.

    A few months ago, after Aron said something that was a little bit whiny, I repeated it imitating the inflection in his voice. I thank God now that we were by ourselves and that I hadn’t done this in front of anyone else, because Aron stopped and looked at me with real hurt on his face. “Please don’t say that, Grandpa,” was all he simply asked. I immediately realized that this kind of thing which all men do with one another wasn’t something I could do with “my buddy.” I apologized and quickly changed the subject to something fun so as not to dwell on it and, hopefully, to have the best chance of my unkindness being quickly forgotten.

    Later, it occurred to me that if someone whom I really admired and looked up to had even slightly mocked me like I’d “playfully” done with Aron, I’d have been hurt too, not because of the tease, but because of whom it was doing the teasing. And I’m a grown man. Lesson well, albeit painfully, learned.

    Finish this book, Frank. It may be one of the best and most important things you’ve ever done!

    Love, -3:10

    • Frank Schaeffer

      Thanks again threeten2, good story and I’ve had the same sort of thing, feels terrible to tramble on trust. I’ll keep writing. Best, F

  • Molly Hollis


    Great article, wise words for all to hear. No need for sarcasm in our world. So many people mistake sarcasm for humor; maybe it’s humor for bullies! I love your parenting “commandments”, and look forward to reading one every morning. I’ll be sad when you reach the 12th…

  • http://jamespence.com James H. Pence

    Thanks for writing these. My children are grown now and so these commandments are 20/20 hindsight for me, but as I read them I’m finding myself nodding a lot and saying “yep.”

    By God’s grace, somehow I muddled through parenthood and have two adult children who love me and are my friends, but it was more in spite of me than because of me.

    I saw in yesterday’s comments that you’re writing a book on family. If these posts are reflective of the content, you’ve got a winner! Can’t wait to read it.


    • Frank Schaeffer

      Jim, me too re muddled through… no do overs, but my grandchildren have a pretty good grandfather, so I did learn a thing or two… Best, F

  • Dangerous Christian

    Thanks for the words Frank. You’ve taught me to rethink how I speak with my son-especially in correcting him. He’s almost five, and like many healthy kids can get on one’s last nerve even on a good day. It’s easy as a parent (an “elder”) to say what we think is right to a child. And I too said some pretty hurtful things to my child.

    My only comfort is that my little guy’s still young, and with God’s help I can hopefully change things to what He/She would have me to do and raise our son so that he will grow up into a fine young man and be a good dad.

    God bless and Peace!

  • http://astrologerprediction.info Erna Vanputten

    Wonderful blog! I only found you the other day but I enjoyed reading this post. Bookmarked.

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