Have you seen those family rule posters? They’re cute and sweet, but I find them tooth-ache-sweet. A rule to love one another? A rule about giving hugs? A rule to say “I love you?” A rule to “dream big?” Please. How annoying. Or the ones that are against my beliefs. A rule to “obey” your parents? I’m sorry; my kids aren’t dogs. I don’t want to teach them obedience; I want to teach them respect. A rule to pray? We do family prayers before dinner and bedtime, but I would never make it a rule. It seems very stifling.
I wanted real rules. I wanted something I could use. I wanted something that would reflect my parenting philosophy. I wanted rules I could stand by and insist on.
When you can’t find what you want, then it’s time to make it.
First I had to figure out what kind of morals I wanted my boys to have, what kind of men did I want them to be. I needed simple rules, just a few. I settled on two. Respect Others. Respect Things. But I perceived a lot of loop holes in there, so I decided I had to clarify my point. I wrote how to follow those rules.
When I wrote my rules, I wrote them in the negative. (No hitting; no name calling.) Then I remembered how people react better to positives, so I rewrote the whole thing. At the time, it was “House Rules,” and my mom pointed out that I wanted those rules to apply outside the house. The rules became “Family Rules.” Once I was done with that, I passed it around to people whose opinion I trusted to get feedback. I finally mapped out the rules on Word.
Since I was too cheap to buy two different types of stencils, I printed out the main two rules and the title and then covered the back with chalk so I could trace the words, leaving a chalk outline to follow. Everything worked well, but it took a while. I like how it came out.
After much debate, I ended up hanging the rules above the time out chair. Whenever the boys misbehaved, I would ask them if the action fit the rules. Are you being respectful? Was that kind? Were you understanding? Did you put up your toys?
I’m not sure if this will work, but I figured it was worth a shot.