Oh, the joys of a Southern childhood.
Not only did we know how to utilize colorful language in backyard football games and dig up our own fishing bait, but we also cleaned up our clothes (and mouths) in time for church on Sunday. If you ever had a dog named after a football coach or ate venison sausage, chances are you were raised below the Mason–Dixon line. And like any good Southerner, you plan to raise your kids following the 10 Commandments…
…the 10 Commandments of Southern Parenting, that is.
1. Thou Shalt Monogram
Do those initials look good on a diaper bag? As a Southern parent, you will be monogramming anything that doesn’t move, so this is a serious consideration when naming your baby. But whatever you do, don’t forget the last name goes in the middle! Douglas Grant Olson can’t be seen with a crimson and white “DOG” bag. Lord have mercy, no.
2. Thou Shalt Pick Your Own Switch
Because nothing strikes the fear of God into a child quite like putting discipline into their own hands. Whether you ask your child to choose a wooden spoon from the kitchen drawer or to simply select which privilege will be taken away, making your kid pick his own switch is as Southern as it gets.
3. Thou Shalt Make Casseroles (for Any and Every Life-Altering Event)
If you don’t have a go-to poppy seed chicken casserole or the family heirloom Jell-O mold, you need to call your momma ASAP. Because taking pre-made lasagna to a new neighbor’s housewarming is basically the same as extending your middle finger. You can’t buy Southern hospitality in the freezer section at Costco, y’all.
4. Thou Shalt Not Waste (AKA Waste Not, Want Not)
Don’t throw out that bacon grease! There is a second (third and fourth) use for every thing under the sun. And that probably means you’ll be wearing your second cousin’s hand-me-down clothes, no matter how out of fashion they are. Have you ever carried your leftovers to work in a Cool Whip container? No? Bless your heart, you wasteful thing.
5. Thou Shalt Dress Your Child in Patent Leather Shoes
You know, the shiny black ones for Sunday school or the little classic navy sandals for toddlers? Imperative. As well as johnnies, jumpers and bubbles (surely you know the difference between all three). Seersucker with bowties for Easter is a must, or you may as well join Sherman on the March. Yeah, I said it.
6. Thou Shalt Say ‘Ma’am,’ ‘Sir,’ ‘Miss’ and ‘Mister’
The first time a friend’s mom asked me to drop the “Miss” in front, her name got caught in my throat like a cat on a hairball. I tried rolling it off my tongue about 50 times before giving up. Sorry, ma’am, but my mama doesn’t like it when I call adults by their first names. Whether or not it makes people feel old or “less modern,” we Southerners will insist on it, and by goodness, so will our children.
7. Thou Shalt Bless…Everything
Bless the meal, bless his soul, and don’t forget to bless her heart. It sets a good example for Southern children to always hear their mother being grateful. After all, if you’re from the South, you are blessed.
8. Thou Shalt Teach Your Child the Importance of Loyalty
Football loyalty, that is. If your child hasn’t learned a war chant, fight song or at least the mascot and team name by 2 years old, you have failed the South. Take it one step further and brainwash your kid to believe that your rival’s team cheer is made up of “bad words,” and you have fulfilled your parenting duty. War Eagle!
9. Thou Shalt Honor Thy Mother and Father (and That Random Lady at the Park)
A good Southern child is taught to respect their elders, including someone else’s momma who’s yelling at them not to run up the slide. It doesn’t matter if there’s a blood relation, 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 daddy about this when he gets home from work”?
10. Thou Shalt Become Your Mother
If your lips have ever uttered, “I brought you into this world…” or “You better quit that crying ‘fore I…” then you are well on your way. If you’ve scraped the high chair into a Tupperware container for tomorrow’s lunch because “there’s starving kids in Africa,” then you’re already there.
And even if the idea of becoming your mother terrifies you, things could be worse. Sure, she may talk like Dolly Parton, dress like Lilly Pulitzer and smell like the perfume section at Dillard’s, but she got an awful lot right.
She raised you, after all.