Grace-full Parenting – Committing to
Nurturing the Souls of our Children
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
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
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
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
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
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
Do you see your family
as a priority, or do you strive to succeed at work first? Do you place
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
For more information
The 10 Commitments: Parenting with Purpose visit
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