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A Foundation for Catholic Parents

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Patrick Sullivan

Catholic  Author, Speaker and Parenting Expert

This is a HUGE post! We thought about shortening it for you but then we thought, NO WAY, we have to give them the GOOD stuff. 

So that's what you're going to find here; seven commandments that will completely transform how you parent.

This is the foundation for our whole Me & My House parenting program and once you dive in, you'll realize just how good of a parent you can be!

And at the end of the post, we have even included a score card that you can use for FREE,  so that you can see exactly where you stand when it comes to the seven commandments of raising happy, healthy and holy kids.

Heck, here it is just in case you don't feel like scrolling:

Click here to download it absolutely free. 


If you're a catholic parent, and you haven't yet heard of the seven commandments of raising happy , healthy and holy kids, then I am very excited for you.

That's because catholic parents just like you have been able to completely transform their homes simply by implementing what we're going to talk about here.

Is this ALL we need to become great parents?

Well no, but it is the beginning and foundation that we need to become great parents.

And once you have this foundation, the peace and joy that you want for your home can actually become a reality by building on it with solid, practical parenting strategies. But more on that later.

So to get started, we need to talk about one VERY important decision, because without it, your parenting awesomeness will just wither away long before it has a chance to shine. 


Where I talk to her audience about the 7 commandments of raising happy, healthy and holy kids.

Table of Contents

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The Decision Every Parent Needs to Make
The 1st Commandment: Safety
The 2nd Commandment: Affection
The 3rd Commandment: Understanding
The 4th Commandment: Attention
The 5th Commandment: Empowerment
The 6th Commandment: Rules
The 7th Commandment: Family Culture


It all starts with a decision

I have to tell you, if parents are not willing to put their will behind this decision, then parenting is going to be a struggle.

So this is the decision we all need to make: I’m going to decide that a peaceful and joyful home life is possible.

Why is that so important?

Because the world says that it is not possible. The world says that having a child ruins your peace, steals your joy, and ruins your plans and all the good stuff you had in life.

So we have to decide this. We have to decide that in my house—which is why we call this program “Me & My House”—the air is going to be different. We’re going to have peace and joy.

That’s the first but utterly crucial step to having the kind of family life that you want. 

I should also say this.

The 7 Commandments of raising happy, healthy, and holy kids are not extra. 

Instead, the need fo the commandments are already built-in to our children. What I'm saying is that if you strive to meet these commandments, your children will be happy, they will be holy and you'll have that healthy parenting relationship that you want. 


Because our kids are already craving this from us, we just haven't noticed it yet.



So what is the first commandment?

Make sure that your child feels safe with you.

Every child on the planet needs safety. They need to feel safe with you.

And that's not just BODILY safety.

I'm talking about the kind of safety that comes from being vulnerable around you.

For example, can your child admit his faults to you and know that it's not going to lead to more punishment?

Can he turn to you and say, “I did this really bad thing” and fully expect that while the action may have been bad, he is not bad and your love continues regardless?

Allow your child the room to point out their own faults, to be a part of the conversation that asks, "how or what can we improve as a family?




What is the second commandment?

Show your children affection.

There is one particular kind of love that is foundational to a great parent-child relationship, and that's affection.

And the amazing part is that affection is extremely easy to convey.

Grandparents do it by pinching cheeks, giving a child to that little face and pressing the coin in the hand.

What are they trying to say?

Simply this: I am so glad that you are here. THAT'S AFFECTION.

So let your child catch you glancing at them in love during the day.

Stop a conversation with them mid-sentence just to say, "It just hit me how much I love having these conversations with you."

It's these little moments, multiplied over days and months that change a potentially difficult relationship into a solid one.




 What's the third commandment?

Make an effort to understand your children.

Every human on the planet, ESPECIALLY OUR LITTLE ONES, need to and desire to be understood.

This is what propels children to learn to speak. They realize that whenever they babble or scream it doesn’t work. Mom and dad don’t understand them. So with time, they learn to speak in a way that they can be understood. 
But something else can happen here too.

Children can learn to speak and yet...

Mom and dad don’t quite seem to get them.

We have to make an effort here!

What is your child's love language? What is his language of evangelization? What virtues and talents does he have? And yes, what are his vices?

All of this knowledge is invaluable when building the kind of parent-child relationship that you want.


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Me & My House
Parenting Course



What is the fourth commandment?

Give your children attention.

Your kids need your attention.


Because, it’s built-in. It's hardwired into the child to expect mom and dad to look at them, to want to talk to them, to want to listen to them.

In real terms, what this means is that our kids need time with us.

The time together doesn't have to be long but it does have to be complete.

No phones going off.

No side conversations.

No texting someone else because work is contacting you yet again.

Put all of that away and give your child the full attention that he wants and craves, even if it is only for ten minutes.




What is the fifth commandment?

Allow them to make choices.

Remember, we are created as beings with freedom.

It's one of the great gifts that we have from the Lord.

And yet, far too often we don't allow our kids to choose to make the family culture their own.


Your child is going to make choices regardless.

He's going to choose to listen...

Or not to listen.

He's going to choose.

So the real question is...

Are we going to empower the child to choose the family culture for himself or are we going to force it on them.

Guide the child, yes.
Form the child, of course.
But force the child?  It just DOESN'T work.

How do we do this?

We provide options for the child within the framework of the family culture.

For example, if you want a culture of music in your home, then give your child the choice of instrument to play.

Or if you want a culture of sports in your home, then give your child the choice of which sport to play. 


the culture of your choice is being built up, but NOW your child has now become an active and willing participant.




What is the sixth commandment?

Give the child boundaries.

Children need rules and boundaries.

Why? Because we’re mean? No.

Children need rules so that the family culture and the child personally can thrive.

That's why in the Me & My House course we ask parents to come up with two lists.

The first list is called:
House Rules

These are those rules and boundaries that apply to everyone in the family, regardless of age or authority.

And because everyone obeys them, it is SUPER easy to get our children to identify the desired behaviour with themselves. 

It's kind of like they begin to say to themselves, "well I'm from the Sullivan family, it's just what we do."
But there is a second type of rule, and these are called:
Character Rules

These rules help individuals to work on their own shortcomings so that they can become the kind of people that they want to become.

And when these are chosen wisely... 

even the most stubborn and trouble seeking child begins to curb their wacky behaviour. 

BIG TIP: When making character rules for each child, take into consideration how doable it is for them.

Of course the rule should be challenging but it needs to be possible. Doing anything else will just end up in rebellion.




What is the seventh commandment?

Build up a family culture.
You need to step back with your spouse and say, “What is our dream for our family?”

And this is difficult for some of us because when we first fell in love with our spouse, the world asked, "what is your dream for your marriage?"

SO WHEN you had children, you had to re-evaluate a lot of things.

How do I go on the trip with my spouse that I’ve always wanted to go on but with kids now?

How do I get involved in the church or in the community now that I have kids?

Maybe our friends, co-workers, and relatives didn’t do it on purpose, but they nevertheless encouraged us to create a dream for our marriage that excluded the greatest gift God was going to bring us. 

But God’s dream for us is massive!

Maybe this little face He gave you is what will get you through your 7th year of being a parent.

Or maybe it’ll be that face that pulls you out of a depression later in life. 
Parents need to tap into their imagination, and as a couple, cultivate the dream for their family.

How exactly should you do that? Try this.

Just fill in the blank: We are the _______ family.

Sit down and think about how you will fill that in.

Here at the Sullivan house, because I’m a full-time evangelist, we say: “We are the missionary family.”

Everything—our decisions, our finances, our plans—revolve around what it means to be a missionary family. Once you define who you are as a family, your kids will have the platform off of which to jump off into the world. 
Your dream could be anything that you and your spouse really feel is going to pull everything together to create that family culture that you want.

And this is where the house rules and character rules begin to make even more sense.

If I'm going to be the missionary family, that means our house rules have to cultivate that, help that, and empower that culture. 
When done well, the family culture trickles back down into all of these commandments.

Your children begin to self-regulate because they feel quite strongly that they belong to this family with this culture and they want to protect that.

They grow into happy, healthy, and holy individuals.

And guess what?

If or when they’re called to their own vocation of marriage one day, they’ll want to implement a similar culture to the one that gave them that sense of safety, affection, understanding, attention, empowerment, and yeah, even discipline and rules. And they’ll do it intuitively.

Try it!

Take the 7 Commandments Score Card below and see where you stand when it comes to creating the kind of parenting relationship that you want. 


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