McGraw Family Parenting Principles


Defend your children even when they are wrong.

On the surface, this may sound like a principle many of you might have trouble agreeing with.  It's easy to defend your children when you know they are right or be proud of them when they've done something good.

It's not nearly as easy, but it's written somewhere that we should PUNISH our children when they've done something bad or they've made us VERY ANGRY.  What's the hardest—but I believe the most important—is defending them even when you and they know they have done something wrong.  But that's when they need you the MOST.

We all make mistakes—nobody's perfect.  We all need someone to always be there when we've messed up, even messed up BAD/BIG TIME. Someone to (1), say that's alright, honey; someone to (2), comfort you and tell you not to worry; someone to (3) tell you the problem will go away and it will all get better.


Its better to give than recieve.

Now this one sounds like one you won't have any problem agreeing with, but I don't know anyone who practices this principle more than my parents.  They have to be the most giving people in the whole world.

Whether it's their time, their resources, their love or anything else they may have, my parents have been giving, giving, giving all their lives...not just to their children, but to their many friends.  People know they can count on Mary and Woody to be there whenever they need help. This giving attitude was always self evident at Christmastime, birthdays, etc., where my brother, sister and I always seemed to get virtually everything we wanted even though we had very modest family resources.

But more importantly, this principle is practiced by my parents EVERYDAY.  They get great satisfaction in giving to others.


There's no substitute for hard work.

While I certainly accept that being smart and being lucky are important, I definitely subscribe to the principle that hard work and determination are THE keys to success in all aspects of life.

Both of my parents have worked hard all their lives.  They EARNED everything they received.   Mom taught school for 30+ years and worked part-time after school.  Dad worked for the same company for 53 years before he “retired.”  At 77, he STILL worked part-time at Churchill Downs.  Believe it or not, he worked there, too (part-time) for over 50 years.

Probably the best memory I have of my parents' hard work is the many hours Dad spent working at home doing the books of Plainview Farms Dairy.  He got an extra dollar a book for every book he did at home.  Since it took him around 2 hours for each book, that was about 50 cents/hour, which wasn't all that bad back then.  He made this SACRIFICE for the good of our family.

I personally believe in the power of hard work.  I have said many times—all I ask is that you work hard and give it the best you've got.  Hard work will eventually pay off.  I truly believe that good things happen to those who work hard.


All work and no play makes Jack a very dull boy.

The corollary to working hard in our family has always been “playing hard.”  One thing my parents taught us was the love for games. We learned to love playing cards, board games, etc., from watching our parents play with friends.  Thanks for letting us watch, Mom and Dad.


Always be yourself.

My parents are a sterling example of the value of just being yourself.  They never had one ounce of phoniness in their bodies—What you saw was definitely what you got.  People will like you for what you ARE.  If they don't, it's their loss.  You will never regret always being yourself. I'm sure everyone here agrees with this, but peer pressure and other pressures make it much easier said than done.  We were sure fortunate to grow up in an environment where this principle was practiced 100% of the time, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.


The power of positive thinking.

Dale Carnegie used to have a course built around this principle, but our parents taught this to us long before Carnegie made it popular.  If you believe in something and really want it to happen and work hard for it to happen, it will happen.

It's not easy to keep a positive attitude especially when things aren't going your way.  It's much easier being negative about everything.

But we learned from our parents that we all want to be around POSITIVE PEOPLE.  A SINGLE reason why you CAN do something is worth a hundred reasons why you can't.


Fight for what you believe in--Stand up for the absent

STAND UP FOR THE ABSENT—What does that mean?  Basically, don't tolerate people talking BEHIND PEOPLE'S BACKS when they are absent and can't defend themselves.  My parents never did this.  When people ARE NOT there to defend themselves, YOU defend them.  Stand up for the absent.  What a strong principle.