Have you ever played a game with someone who kept changing the rules? Have you ever worked for a boss who was unclear about what was expected of you? Or what was acceptable at one time was now all of a sudden unacceptable? This can be frustrating at best and exasperating at worst. And yet, many times we as parents exasperate our own children and sabotage our discipline through lack of clarity in rules and inconsistency in enforcement.
Ephesians 6:4 says, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”
This leads us to Passionate Legacy Principle #4: Make the rules of the house clear and consistent. Have only a few rules that are clear to everyone and enforce them without fail. They should be written, posted, and reviewed often. Choose your “hills to die on” and stick with them. Don’t make rules just for your convenience, every rule should have a strong basis for its existence, whether safety, morality, or respect for others.
Are you exasperating your children by allowing them to break rules sometimes, but not other times? Which of your rules do you tend to enforce inconsistently? Are they sometimes punished for running in the house, but other times you are just too tired to try to enforce that rule?
Is your list of rules so long that no one would be able to remember them all? What are the rules of your house? Do you and your spouse agree on them? Do you agree on punishments for breaking each one?
We have a list of rules that we keep posted on our fridge as a reminder to all of us. Here is what it looks like:
The _________________ Family Rules
1. Love God and Love others
2. Obey the first time
3. Do not hurt (use your words or get a grown up)
4. To not take
5. Do not lie
6. Do not argue with Mom or Dad
7. Do not whine
8. Do not yell at others
9. Do not say hurtful words
10. If you get something out, put it away when you are done
As kids get older, they need to be reminded of the principles behind the rules (that you have been teaching them verbally all along). Here is a sample list of rules for older kids and teens that is more principle-based.
The __________________ Family Rules
1. Love God and love others
2. Be cooperative in attitude and actions (obey without argument)
3. Be honest
4. Be respectful
5. Be responsible (at home and at school)
6. Clean up after yourself
We have a more complete list of rules for young kids and principles for teens that includes Scripture verses and explanations to be covered with your children available by clicking THIS LINK.
I encourage you to download this document, adapt it to your family, put your family name on the top and print it and post it in your home. Review it regularly with your kids and just see what happens!