Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Setting a Framework for A Great Family Life Using Rules and Expectations

“Rules point the direction for the family by putting the values of the family into action.  Rules help people know what to expect...”                                                                     Family Wellness Associates

One of my favorite shows to watch lately has been the British comedy, Doc Martin, which has quirky characters and beautiful scenery. A recent episode focused on parents of a 12 year old boy, who believed in parenting their son by totally ignoring any of his misbehavior, asking other adults in the village to do the same. Predictably, the boy proceeded to terrorize the place, vandalizing cars and more. Ignoring the boy’s misbehavior did not work for the parents, the town, or the intellectual and emotional development of the boy.

Though the family in the story is fictional, the parents’ struggles with their son highlight the very real need for all families to recognize and define a few well thought-out family rules and to set some positive expectations for each child.  In this blog post, we will take a look at the importance of creating and using a few good Family Rules.

Many people use the terms “rules” and “expectations” interchangeably, but they are not the same. Family rules are specific and discrete rules for behavior that have natural or logical consequences if not followed. For example, a Family Rule for younger children might be, “we use our words, not our hands” to show children that they should talk through differences, instead of pushing and hitting.  A Family Rule for tweens and teens might be that everyone helps with chores at a set time on the weekend.  Using a few well thought-out and carefully phrased rules gives the whole family a framework that lessens arguments and powers struggles, as well as helping children learn right from wrong. Rules may vary from family to family depending on which principles and values each family sets as their highest priority.  For example, some families might feel it is more important that a child’s can voice his opinions while another family may feel it is important that a child is speaks respectfully to adults, holding back on his or her opinions.

In the second of this two part series, coming out next week, we will take a look at the role positive expectations take in encouraging the intellectual and emotional development of our sons and daughters.