Golden Rule Parenting


Contact Information

Phone: 719-660-0253
email:garyunruh at gunruh dot com

Gary M. Unruh
7680 Goddard Street Suite 215
Colorado Springs, CO 80920

All or part of this review may be used without further permission.

Sample Book Review

After counseling thousands of children and their families over a period of forty years, psychotherapist Gary M. Unruh arrived at certain definite conclusions about how to transform young people into respectful, compassionate, and humble adults. His 2012 book, Golden Rule Parenting: Treat Your Child the Way You Would Like to Be Treated, shares the fruit of his extensive clinical experience with parents and with other practitioners so that they can help children achieve their full potential. Portions of this book are adapted and updated from the author’s previous book, Unleashing the Power of Parental Love, and his Unleashing Parental LoveTM parenting approach.

His book’s central premise:

Fully developed heart-to-heart communication skills provide just the right combination of understanding (heart/feelings) and teaching self-control (head/reasoning), transforming a child into a respectful, compassionate, humble human being.

Most parenting approaches seem to either focus on discipline or understanding. Unruh’s contribution to parenting is how he combines these two approaches with understanding as the foundation of the parent-child relationship, especially during disciplining. Hundreds of vivid, real-life examples—often revealed through the eyes of a child—demonstrate his two-step understanding approach:

  1. Begin interactions with understanding your child’s feelings and thoughts while you temporarily put aside your instructions.
  2. Firmly discipline and communicate according to the child’s personality, developmental stage, and with empowering problem-solving skills. 

Biblical passages are thoughtfully interspersed throughout Unruh’s book to strengthen a parent’s resolve to practice these two understanding steps. For example, James 4:1 encourages parents to understand why they tend to first disagree instead of understand: “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?”

Unruh also sprinkles throughout his book heart-to-heart “Hey, Kids!” messages to help children to become aware of and effectively communicate the way they want to be treated. Parents are able to get an inside look at how a child experiences disciplining issues.

One of Unruh’s most important points is that children become self-assured through healthy fulfillment of their five basic needs: pleasure, security, independence, love, and confidence. He contends that these needs are best met through thorough acceptance of themselves—achieved through being understood—instead of relying exclusively upon outside performance.

Maybe Unruh’s most practical contribution is found in his middle three disciplining chapters, where he demonstrates how his two-step Discussion Procedure works to develop a child’s self-assurance and resiliency. When a problem occurs, first agree with one of your child’s points through listening, and then find a mutual solution when possible. Although agreement at the beginning of a problem sounds unrealistic, he convincingly shows it’s a learnable skill and provides plenty of examples to reveal the amazing fruit of its success.

Unruh’s last three chapters present a compelling case for the importance of establishing three of what he calls “the most important human character traits: respect, compassion, and humility.” Most readers will be pleasantly surprised to learn that as they have been applying the book’s heart-to-heart communication guidelines during the first two sections of the book, they were actually modeling these character traits in 3D for their kids.

In summary, Unruh’s parent-friendly presentation will convince many parents to switch to his growth-oriented, heart-first-head-second parenting approach. Our world certainly could benefit from more respectful, compassionate, humble children and adults.

Golden Rule Parenting: Treat Your Child the Way You Would Like to Be Treated by Gary M. Unruh, MSW LCSW. $14.99  original trade paperback, ISBN 978-0-9824204-0-9, published by Lighthouse Love Productions, LLC, 7680 Goddard Street, Suite 215, Colorado Springs, CO 80920. 719-660-0253   Cover art available—

6 Golden Rule Skills

6 Golden Rule Heart-to-Heart Communication Skills: Transforming Your Child into a Respectful, Compassionate, Humble Adult

  • Infuse discipline with understanding: first listen and agree with feelings; then engage in firm, consistent discipline.
  • Capitalize on your child’s need to be good and please you.
  • Fit your discipline into your child’s personality and developmental stage.
  • Make success job 1.
  • Disagree agreeably.
  • Teach three heart-character traits: respect, compassion, and humility.

Interview Questions

About Gary

Every day Gary Unruh is asked questions by parents, educators, and other professionals. He is used to answering questions in a thoughtful, educational way. Expect his presentation to reflect seasoned experience based upon being a father, grandfather, and clinical therapist of more than 2,500 families over a 42-year period.

Gary’s Book

Golden Rule Parenting: Treat Your Child the Way You Would Like to Be Treated is based upon using six important heart-to-heart parenting skills.

  • Infuse discipline with understanding: first listen and agree with feelings; then engage in firm, consistent discipline.
  • Capitalize on your child’s need to be good and please you.
  • Fit your discipline into your child’s personality and developmental stage.
  • Make success job # 1.
  • Disagree agreeably.
  • Teach three heart-character traits: respect, compassion, and humility.

 Introductory Questions

  1. How did you develop your six heart-to-heart parenting skills?
  2. How is child-rearing today more challenging than it was twenty years ago? Or is it?
  3. Many parenting blogs express frustration with “expert opinions,” most of which make a parent feel less adequate or simply repackage the same old stuff. What makes your material different?
  4. The end point of your book says your approach results in a humble child. That seems unrealistic. How does it work?
  5. How long does it take to see a noticeable change using your approach? What are the early signs of this approach working?
  6. All parents want a respectful kid. Even though many would like a compassionate, humble child, most parents don’t seem to have these character traits on their parenting radar screen. Why do you make those qualities such a central part of your approach?

Getting to the Heart of the Matter

  1. You say, “Feeling understood is a child’s basic need.” What does that mean?
  2. What do you mean by your comment, “Discipline with understanding—heart/feelings first, behavior/reasoning second”? Aren’t kids too soft and parents too permissive—too much helicopter parenting?
  3. You make such a big point about parents respecting their child’s feelings. How does that prepare a kid for life’s hard knocks?
  4. You say kids overall want to be good and please their parents. How does that match up with news every day about suicide, early sexual behavior, and bullying?
  5. Your point about fitting parenting into a child’s personality and age sounds like a great idea, but seems like a job for a psychologist. How can parents find the time or resources to read up on child development and then personalize the information for their child?
  6. Your Discussion Procedure for solving problems claims to take the hassle out of disciplining by showing parents how to first listen and agree with something their kid says before lowering the discipline boom. Kids do so much blaming. How can parents agree with their children during discipline?

In Closing

  1. What is one of your favorite examples of this understanding approach at work?
  2. Where can parents learn more about these techniques?
  3. Where can people find your book?

Ten Sound Bites

1. Seek first to understand your child’s point of view and help him or her to feel understood. Understand first (heart/feelings), discipline second (head/reasoning) is the book’s basic “heart first, head second” premise.

Detail: With this essential, often missing, foundation in place you will realize progress you’ve hardly dreamed of with the challenges of everyday parenting (p. 10, par. 2).

  • Disciplining alone just doesn’t cut it. Discipline is essential, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg. Here’s the problem in a nutshell. The most important parenting step is missing: starting with the innermost emotional needs of you and your child (heart/feelings). When this essential step has been thoroughly addressed, then disciplining (head/reasoning)—the second step—works a lot better (p. 14, par. 1).

2. Unruh’s recurring Golden Rule question to parents: How would you like to be treated—now, as an adult, and when you were a child (p. 10, last par.)?

3. Problem solving is achieved through disagreeing agreeably using Unruh’s two-step Discussion Procedure (p. 33, par. 3).

Detail: Concerns with agreement: (a) listen to and repeat what the other person says with no buts and (b) agree with and validate in some way the other person’s feelings and thoughts (p. 30, par. 3).

  • Solution: Use each other’s concerns to arrive at mutually agreeable solutions when possible.

4. Your child’s deep-down biggest motivator is to be good.

Detail: Three top tips for making “I’m a good kid” stick: (1) Find the good; (2) parent for success; and (3) spend time, not money (p. 43, par. 2).

5. Our feelings and thoughts represent the epicenter, the heart, of who we are (p. 44, last paragraph).

6. Top three parenting skills: love and affection, stress management, behavior management (pp. 67–71).

7. Success beliefs are things we seek to acquire or complete or fulfill because we know doing so will make us happy. The best success beliefs include balancing relational and personal success (p. 75, par. 3).

Detail: five important elements of success

  • Identify and help establish your child’s passion (p. 78, par. 1).
  • Help your child establish best efforts (p. 78, par. 1).
  • Establish and maintain good character qualities (trustworthiness, respect, hard work,
  • independence, humility, caring, positive attitude) (p. 80, par. 4).
  • Be comfortable with failure instead of feeling ashamed (p. 83, par. 4).
  • Establish understanding relationships (p. 83, par. 2).

8. Respect: Parents have four years—birth to kindergarten—to help their child establish his or her basic ability for respectful behavior most of the time. And then they’ve got until eighteen years of age to establish a deeply rooted habit of respect (p. 108, par. 4).

Detail: three parts of respect

  • Parents respecting child
  • Child acquiring self-respect (p. 119, pars. 1–3)
  • Child respecting others (p. 120, pars. 1–2; p. 121, par. 2)

9. Compassion: When a parent is compassionate to a kid, it greases the child’s self-compassionate gears (p. 134, last paragraph).

Detail: Children clearly feel another person’s physical and emotional pain by eighteen months of age, and by age three they are starting to do something about what they feel—the beginning of compassionate behavior (p. 125, par. 5).

Establishing self-compassion leading to other-compassion.

  • Deep awareness of what’s going on deep inside a person and doing something about that person’s feelings and suffering—that’s compassion (p. 128, par. 1).
  • Self-compassion accomplished (p. 128, par. 3).

For now, I understand and accept my humanness (both the good and the bad) without shame.

Fulfill five basic needs through inside growth not exclusively through outside performance (pp. 128–129):

  • Pleasure, now
  • Safety and security, minimal fear
  • Independence
  • Lovable through connectedness with others
  • Confidence

10. Humility is showing selfless interest in others most of the time (p. 149).

Detail: Humility definition (Greek, praus): strength under control (p. 151, last paragraph)
Humility’s foundation:

  • Parenting with compassion and respect (understanding) leads to children learning healthy fulfillment of their five basic needs (see above) (p. 150, par. 4). Fulfilling these needs position children to be transformed in their early stages of self-orientation to other-orientation.

About the Author

Are you seeking parenting advice from a professional with years of both counseling and personal experience? And is it important that the advice is respectful of you and easy to use?

If so, you’ll want to know more about Gary M. Unruh, MSW LCSW. He has been a child and family mental health counselor for over forty years. During that time he and his wife, Betty, have been blessed to raise four beautiful children, and he is a very proud “papa” of nine terrific grandchildren.

Out of these experiences Unruh discovered a transformational parenting approach:

Unleashing Parental Love

Unruh has made two amazing, surprisingly simple-to-apply parenting discoveries that ensure your child’s fully developed potential:

  • Being continually understood through heart-to-heart communication is a child’s most basic need to become a self-assured, confident human being.
  • Disciplining with understanding is a “heart first, behavior second” disciplining method—a radical departure from our society’s typical consequence-only discipline approach.

Over 2500 children and families have experienced this program’s transforming results:

  • Establishment of three foundational character traits: respect, compassion, humility
  • Experiencing joyful, rich family and personal relationships
  • Acquiring problem-solving skills that are enriching and satisfying instead of stagnating and frustrating

Unruh’s two books provide common-sense tips fortified by hundreds of real-life examples to make sure you and your family can reap the bountiful harvest of unleashing your love:

  • Unleashing the Power of Parental Love: 4 steps to Raising Joyful and Self-Confident Kids (2010). This award-winning book focuses primarily on understanding the human nature side of parenting—why you and your child act the way you do—with plenty of real-life applications.
  • Golden Rule Parenting: Treat Your Child the Way You Would Like to Be Treated (2012). Using the biblical wisdom of the Golden Rule and concepts from his first book, Unruh has filled this what-to-do book with hundreds of success-oriented, common-sense tips about implementing heart-to-heart communication and disciplining.

Keep up to date with Unruh’s most recent information on the web: Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and weekly blogs.

Unruh welcomes and relies upon candid feedback to continually improve his work.

Press Release

Parental Disciplining by the Golden Rule Combines the Best of Spock and Tiger Mom

Unruh’s Golden Rule parental disciplining strikes an intriguing balance between understanding and firm discipline with a surprising outcome: respectful, compassionate, humble children.

July 10, 2012—Expert opinions often do not adequately fit the needs of a parent-child relationship, according to parenting bloggers. Experts are either too permissive (Spock) or far too harsh (Tiger Mom). Parental disciplining techniques often do not fit a child’s specific needs, leaving parents feeling frustrated.

The lack-of-fit problem is fixed, according to child psychotherapist Gary M. Unruh, by using two key parts of his Golden Rule approach: (1) parents learn to personalize their approach through getting in tune with treating their children the way the parents would like to be treated and (2) parents learn techniques that fit each child’s and parent’s specific needs.

All the how-to parental disciplining details are found in Unruh’s just-released book Golden Rule Parenting: Treat Your Child the Way You Would Like to Be Treated (Lighthouse Love Productions, LLC, July 2012). Concepts from his Unleashing Parental Love approach outlined in his first book, Unleashing the Power of Parental Love, and the unlimited biblical wisdom of the Golden Rule are used to fortify his material.

Unruh comments about his parental disciplining material: “The book’s major parenting contribution is transforming children into respectful, compassionate adults through two life-enriching parenting principles, needed especially during discipline. First, a child feels understood at the heart/feeling level. Second, self-control is learned through firm discipline at the head/reasoning level.”

Six heart-to-heart communication skills, outlined in Unruh’s book, help parents effectively implement his “heart first, head second” parental disciplining approach. These skills are vividly portrayed through hundreds of real-life experiences, often revealed through the eyes of a child or adolescent.

Unruh makes this observation after counseling forty plus years: “Feeling understood when you’re wrong is the fastest route to feeling strong within yourself. Over and over again parents using this approach report seeing their children become self-assured and transformed into respectful, compassionate, humble human beings.”

Unruh concludes, “Every parent I’ve counseled immediately understands the importance of feeling understood when a problem comes up, but it’s tricky to pull it off. Parents are pleasantly surprised with the short learning curve necessary to acquire these parental disciplining understanding skills and are excited to see their children transformed into respectful, compassionate, humble human beings.”

About the Company

Lighthouse Love Productions was created by Unruh in 2010 for the sole purpose of illuminating the good in others through his Unleashing Parental Love parenting approach. Research verifies a positive attitude is critical for good brain development and overall happiness. Through his web site, parents are invited to review his two books, view his Parental Love YouTube channel, access current parenting information on his Facebook and Twitter accounts, and read his weekly informative blogs. Visit

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