Texas childhood. Hot summer days and balmy evenings. Relaxed neighborhoods with grandparents, aunts, and uncles living right down the road. Back then, we dug up our own fishing bait. We played outside until dark thirty – baseball, freeze tag, Mother May I, and Red Rover. We rode scooters, and bikes, and 4-wheelers, and horses… having fun and getting dirty. Growing up was filled with good times and good memories.

And in contrast, cleanliness really was next to Godliness. So we also cleaned up our clothes (and mouths) in time for church every Sunday. If you ever had a dog named after a football coach or ate venison on a regular basis, chances are you were raised somewhere in West Texas. Southern parents, and grandparents, are tough, protective, and love to give guidance and advice. (SO much advice!) And like any good Texan, you probably plan to raise your kids following the exact same Commandments…

…the Commandments of Southern Parenting, Texas style, that is. And if we were anything but Texan, this list would be limited to 10. But did we mention that everything’s bigger in Texas? So we give to you the “16 Commandments of Texas Parenting.”

The 16 Commandments of Texas Parenting

  1. Thou Shalt Say ‘Ma’am,’ ‘Sir,’ ‘Miss,’ and ‘Mister’ – The first time a friend’s mom asked me to drop the “Mrs.” in front, her name got caught in my throat like a cat with a hairball. I tried rolling it off my tongue about 10 times before giving up. Sorry, ma’am, but my mama doesn’t like it when I call adults by their first names!
  2. Thou Shalt Pick Thine Own Switch – Because nothing strikes the fear of God into a child quite like putting discipline into their own hands.
  3. Thou Shalt Learn the Value of Honesty – Your word is your bond and it should never be anything less.
  4. Thou Shalt Beware the Calling of the Full Name – If you hear your mama holler your first, middle, and last name, you know you’re up a creek and there’s no turning back!
  5. Thou Shalt Master the Firm Handshake – A firm handshake is your first impression. So give a nice strong shake (save the tuna for dinner) and look ’em in the eye.
  6.  Thou Shalt Know and Obey “The Look” – Typically seen at churches, funerals, and other formal events, “the look” sends a signal all Texas children should heed from a young age. Slight enough for no one else to see, but sharp enough to make you cut out the horseplay, the look does its job in a split second! And I strongly advise you to comply with its warning.
  7. Thou Shalt Know the Basics So You’re Never Unprepared – Every boy and girl upon leaving the nest should know the basics of a few critical skillsets. How to sew, how to cook, how to change a tire and jumpstart a car, how to start a fire, pitch a tent, tie a knot, fish, use basic tools, and utilize both a gun and a knife for purposes of hunting and safety.
  8. Thou Shalt Always Hold Open Doors (Especially for Ladies and the Elderly) – A little kindness goes a long way.
  9. Thou Shalt Pick Your Clothes Up Off the Floor – It ain’t that hard.
  10. Thou Shalt Not Get Too Big Fer’Yer Britches – Remember where you came from. And if you ever feel full of yourself, call home – we’ll set you straight.
  11. Thou Shalt Love Thy Ma – No matter how old you get, your mama will always be your girl. Never forget to call or drop by just to see her, send her a card on her birthday, and Christmas, and Mothers Day, no matter how old you get. Thank her often and, on occasion, pick her some wildflowers. They go great in a coffee can.
  12. Thou Shalt Honor Thy Mother and Father (and That Random Lady at the Park) – A good Southern child is taught to respect his or her elders, including someone else’s mama who’s warning them not to run up the slide when others are trying to slide down, or swing too high when small children are around. It doesn’t matter if there’s a blood relation involved or not. Children should obey when an adult tells them to do something or run the risk of their parents finding out. After all, is there anything more terrifying than, “Don’t make me tell your mama and daddy about this”?
  13. Thou Shalt Be Prepared for the Yank and Spank – Southern parents will only tell you once not to do something. After that warning comes the yank and spank, no matter the time, place or who’s around. Best to always be prepared and do the right thing from the get-go.
  14. Thou Shalt Rub Some Dirt On It – Got a cut? A sprain? A bone sticking out from your skin? Dirt cures it all. Just take a handful, moisten it a little, and rub it on nice and thick. Got a bee or wasp sting? Then applying a chaw of tobacco will always cut the pain.
  15. Thou Shalt Return Home When the Street Lights Come On – And not a second later, ya hear!
  16. Thou Shalt Become Just Like Your Ma and Pa – If your lips have ever uttered, “I brought you into this world and…” or “You better quit that crying ‘fore I…” then you are well on your way to becoming just like the Texan parents that raised you. And if you’ve got a freezer full of casseroles ready to pop in the oven for any and every possible event, then you’re already there. Even if the idea of becoming like your parents was something you swore you’d never do, things could be worse. Sure, your daddy could give Matthew McConaughey a run for his money when it comes to Southern accents, and yeah, your mama thinks there isn’t a problem in the world that can’t be solved with a fried baloney sandwich and a Dr. Pepper. But they’ve got an awful lot right. After all, they raised you right, didn’t they? Consider it an honor to pass their commandments to the next generation, one switch pickin’ at a time.
father and son sit on back of suburban eating a sandwich.
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