As a special Christmas gift to you loyal readers, here are the top 10 parenting tips of the year — the 10 best ideas we have come across to strengthen your family, "happify" your kids, and "peace out" your own busy life. You may not want to try them all at once, but pick the ones that you think you need most and include them in your New Year's resolutions.

No. 10: Create a family mission statement

Businesses have them, why shouldn't families? Go on a little family retreat or have a special family home evening and explain that a mission statement is a short phrase that describes our family. Discuss everyone's favorite descriptive words and ideas and mold it into one beautiful sentence or phrase. The process is as important as the end product.

No. 9: Enhanced family traditions and rituals

We've all got family traditions and rituals. Enshrine yours by creating a tradition calendar or tradition book that shows your traditions for each month of the year. Have your kids illustrate them. You get more out of them if you anticipate and remember them. For more help on family traditions, go to happyfamily5.php

No. 8: Weekly family meetings

If you don't already have a weekly family home evening or family meeting, start one. Coordinate schedules, have a little lesson, let kids conduct, have refreshments, and have everyone there every week (even if dad has to teleconference in.) For a set of simple, values-oriented family night lessons that kids can teach, go to

No. 7: Family "secret code" for communication and discipline

Replace constant lecturing and disciplining with a secret family communication code that uses an animal as the symbol of each kind of good behavior. Whales for not interrupting, crabs for praising instead of criticizing, etc. To see the full code, go to

No. 6: Clear, simple family laws (with set consequences)

"Obedience" should not mean obeying you as much as obeying laws. Set up four or five simple family laws, each with a clear and natural consequence or punishment attached. We suggest the five laws of "Peace," "Respect," "Order," "Asking" and "Obedience." For details, see

No. 5: Early, pre-emptive strikes

Don't wait until your kids ASK about sex or drugs or drinking before you have the "big talk" with them. Particularly on sex, an early, clear and positive big talk can be the thing that prevents casual and dangerous experimentation. See tokids.php for ideas on the dialogue to use.

No. 4: Decisions in advance

Most kids make bad decisions because they get blindsided by peer pressure and have never "role-played" what to do in that situation. Help your kids make up a list of "decisions in advance" so that when they get to the pressure point, they will already have decided what to do. Have kids write their decisions in advance on a special page in their journal, and sign and date each one.

No. 3: Ownership and the family economy

Get rid of welfare-like "allowances" and set up a system where kids have certain jobs to do — mostly in the common areas of your home — and have a "payday" on Saturday when how much they get is dependent on how much they did. And let them start buying their own stuff with the earnings. Details:

No. 2: The "value of the month"

Don't assume that your kids will automatically adopt your values. Pick a list of the 12 values you want to teach them and focus on one value each month. Put up a banner in your family room. With that value in mind, everything you see will be an object lesson to teach with.

For a list and overview of 12 universal values, with teaching methods, see

No. 1: The monthly five-facet review

Once a month, go to dinner as a couple and confine your agenda to your kids. Have a five-facet review about each child. "How is this child doing physically, mentally, socially, emotionally, and spiritually?" Take notes on your thoughts. Nip problems in the bud. If you are a single parent, do it with a grandparent or someone else who loves your children.

Merry Christmas from the Eyres!

The Eyres are the founders of Joy Schools and of and the authors of numerous best-selling books on marriage, parenting and family. Their mission statement, developed while presiding over the England London South Mission, is FORTIFY FAMILIES by celebrating commitment, popularizing parenting, bolstering balance and validating values. Their next book is "5 Spiritual Solutions for Everyday Parenting Problems." Visit their blog at