Order in the Chaos--Rules, Rules, Rules

7:34 AMHeather

Sunday after church, we did our usual going out to lunch. Nothing says Sabbath to me like NOT cooking, so unless making sandwiches for dinner counts, I do not cook on Sundays. We were able to join up with some friends, and we let the children choose the restaurant--which is how we landed at T.aco B.ueno. It was one of THOSE kind of days, so within about a minute and a half of sitting down, I turned to a little darling of mine and said that they would pull a card when we got home.

My friend Rachel jumped on that and asked what I was talking about. And thus, the entire lunch conversation was dominated by this discipline system that we latched onto about a year and a half ago. It was created by a family therapist working with youth at risk, and we learned about it at a time when we desperately needed to find some order in our chaos. One of mine is destined for greatness on a debate team and another can unravel into a ball of emotions. I had reached a point in the fall 2009 when I needed new tools in my toolbox.

Since we latched onto the Family Rules system, we have been greatly encouraged! When we actually WORK the system, the system works. It helps take the emotion out of disciplining--for ME and the children. And, it has brought much needed structure and clear expectations. One of the GREAT things about this system is that we can continue to modify it and make it more complex so it can grow with us until our children leave the house. Since Rachel is not the first to ask me about it, I thought maybe you--my bloggy friends--might find something useful here. SO, this week, I will be sharing this system with you.

The first component to the Family Rules system is, of course, the rules. The idea is to have a family meeting where everyone has input--although Mom and Dad have veto power. These are set rules that are posted in the house. By the way, we have all the components of this system--the rules, the consequences, the chores, and the rewards posted on a foam board in our laundry room just off the kitchen.

When we created our rules, we decided to base our rules from Scripture in order to reinforce the fact that God and His Word are our ultimate authority. We also wanted to keep it as simple as possible rather than creating a big long list, so we have ten rules. Our children were 4, 7, and 9 when we did this. It was fun to hear our kid's ideas, although we did have to veto the rule that children must have ice cream after every meal. Actually, I think Chris and I were both pleasantly surprised to hear our kids say several of the very things we had in mind--like treating everyone with kindness and respect. Having these set expectations in our home has really helped clarify the boundaries. When these boundaries are crossed, there are set consequences--which is what I'll talk about in the next post.

Below are our house rules, in case you might want some ideas. I imagine these might be tweaked as our kids reach an age of more freedom and responsibility. But, they have covered what we've needed thus far.

1. Treat everyone with respect and kindness (1 Thessalonians 5:15)
2. No lying, cheating, or sneaking around (Proverbs 6:17)
3. Obey the first time (Ephesians 6:1)
4. No grumbling, complaining, growling, whining, yelling or fussing (Philippians 2:14)
5. No running or playing with balls in the house.
6. No fighting--use words to negotiate (Proverbs 20:3)
7. Do not wound each other or hurt anything in your anger.
8. Obey all rules, laws and authority everywhere you go (Romans 13:1)
9. Pick up after yourself
10. No use of phone, computer, TV or Wii without parental permission and supervision.

INTENTIONAL challenge: Let me be clear. I do not have it all together--neither does my family. On any given day, I break these rules myself. We are a passionate, emotional bunch around here who get tired and grumpy and take it out on each other. Chris and I get lazy and sloppy with our disciplining, and we can veer off from what we KNOW is the right thing to do for our children. But, having a set system has done MUCH to give us the tools that we all need. When we get off track--like the last few weeks--and we see the downward spiral begin, we can get back on track. So, if you are like our family and you sometimes reach a point of feeling like something has to give, you might want to latch onto something like this system. Having set rules is a start to having order rule in your chaos.

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