Family Life

creating family rules: part 1


This is a guest post from Abi 

Many years ago, I took a scrap of paper from an old exercise book, and a half chewed crayon that one of my children had discarded on the floor nearby, and wrote up a list of family rules.  Although scribbled roughly and stuck to the wall with a gray (and dare I say it) hairy piece of blutack, these rules have become, to us, no less sacrosanct than the 10 Commandments.  They came from a place of despair, at first, and then hope, and have evolved over the years, into a guide for my children, through the challenges of growing up as members of a busy family.

These are the rules which began to take shape in my head years ago, when it seemed that things which I consider to be obvious, are indeed not!  Especially if you are a little boy, and certainly not, if you are three little boys sharing a family home, and a bathroom!  And so, I have enshrined the bleeding obvious, in writing, for all to see.  And read.  And read again.  Because apparently,  mentioning not peeing on the floor once, twice, or even 43 times, does not compute.  Whether it’s the frequency of my voice that is the problem, their short attention spans, or very small brains, asking nicely doesn’t work.

Over the years, we have moved house several times, but the rules have always come with us.  Each time we have designated our place for meals, and by that token, our place for family time, we have given the rules pride of place close by, so that they can be seen by everyone, even those hanging backwards off their chairs or crawling under the table.  There was a time I would get the boys to read the rules aloud.  A great way to practice reading, and a valiant attempt on my part, to inculcate my children with a sense of responsibility and family values.  It did get silly at times.  Many times.  But mostly we talked around the rules, discussed why they were so important, and how best to make them work.  Mostly, the boys came to know them by heart, and generally, to respect them.  Once I even caught my four year old showing his friend our “family laws”, and telling him proudly that “we all have to follow these in our house.”  That was indeed a “yeah baby!” moment for me.

“What’s in the rules?” I hear you ask.  Well, I’m sure its nothing you don’t already know.  I’ll bet there isn’t much in our rules that you don’t already do at home.  The only difference is, that mine are written down.  And enlarged to poster size.  And mounted.  And laminated.  Oh, and they have a logo too.  With a little monster on it.  Yes, I kid you not.  We have a new house, and a lot of wall space to fill, so what better to fill one of them with, than the rules which have become so important to our family?  Everyone knows what is expected of them, what is acceptable and what is not.  There is no room for doubt, no room for confusion.  Kids need boundaries, and there’s no better way to let them know what those boundaries are, than to write them in big red letters, all the way across a wall!

Tomorrow I am here again to share with you my family rules.

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  • Jodi Gibson

    WE really need to write ours down. They were misplaced when we moved.