Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Setting up rules in your home

I've been contemplating an issue I keep running into that I'm going to try to write out.  My thoughts are still developing.
Here is a couple scenario I've had with my own kids lately to preface my thoughts.
A school choir concert is happening where my child will be performing with the rest of his class.  My child doesn't "feel" like going.
My child is playing with his friends at our home and cub scouts is going to start in 15 minutes and all the boys say they don't want to go this one time.

Wouldn't it be so much easier to just stay home, I think to myself.  I'm tired, or I'm in the middle of making dinner we all could just stay home.  But then I awaken and think, he has teachers, leaders and peers waiting on him, counting on him to do his part.  If he doesn't go today how much easier will it be for him to say the same thing next week or next time?

What if the same child says, I don't "feel" like going to church today?  When does his agency come into effect?  Doesn't he get to "choose" to do what he wants to?  This has probably happened or will happen for school as well.

So here is my thoughts in this matter because I think this will only be the beginning of battles that I have to decide if I am going to fight or not.  First of all I have to decide what do I value.  Because what I think is most important and want to instill in my own children is worth fighting for.  If I want to my children to know that church is very important, then I'm going to insist that my children come to church with me.  To me music lessons are important enough that I will insist they keep playing until they reach a certain age or level of playing.  That's what every parent needs to decide for themselves, what is important enough.  Another thing I think is really important is to support each other by attending their activities.  This shows that we care and love each other, even though their part may be small.  My parents were so excellent in teaching this to me.  They still do everything they can to come to any of our performances or activities.

I am developing my mantra that I say, "In our home we, ________________, and you can decide what attitude you will have doing it."   I think when your children live in your home their are certain rules that you can set for them to obey.  After they move out of the house they may choose to live by certain rules and that is their choose but when they are in your home, they abide by your rules.
I wanted to end with a part of an article I found that I really like.

Family Rules

Firm and unwavering family rules help these youth stay on course. A group of teenagers from the Atlanta Georgia Stake admit that they appreciate the rules their parents set. “I’d never tell my parents this,” one young man says, “but I don’t mind the rules we have at our home. Sometimes I’ll ask my parents to let me do something I know I shouldn’t, and I complain when they say no, but I’d be really disappointed if they gave in to me.”
Jennie Busker appreciates rules because they provide an excuse to give her friends when they want to do something she feels uncomfortable about. “Once my friend wanted me to go with her to her boyfriend’s house after work,” she relates. “I didn’t want to go and said I didn’t think my mom would let me. She kept pushing me to go, and I’m afraid I would have if my parents hadn’t said no.” Other youth agree. “Sometimes it’s hard to tell your friends no. You don’t want to hurt their feelings, so you need to have your parents as a backup.”
In order for rules to be really effective, they should be fair and consistent. Some family rules, many Atlanta teens say, are non-negotiable—no dating before sixteen, and church attendance, for example. Others are more open. Families often use family councils or family home evenings to discuss such rules. After hearing the input of their teens, some families have established a curfew. Others have a variable curfew and ask only that their children let them know where they are at all times. Within these broad guidelines, the youth are generally allowed to plan their own activities.
Consistency is another must in establishing rules. Once a rule is set and a consequence decided upon, both parents need to follow through. “Next times” do not always work. “If I hear ‘next time you do this’ too often,” one girl says, “I know nothing will ever happen. I know I can go out and break the rule.” When parents do not remain firm (unless circumstances suggest otherwise), their children feel the rules and the values they represent are really not very important.
Sometimes following through on the consequences may seem harsh. Laura Busker tells of one experience she had. “My mother had told me that I could not go out one Saturday night until I finished my seminary homework. (My mother is the teacher.) Well, I put it off and put it off and when my date came, I had not started. I wanted to leave, but Mom stood firm. I had to do my work while my date waited. That may seem silly or mean to some people, and I wasn’t too excited about it at the time, but that experience taught me how important seminary and learning the gospel were to my mother. And you can be sure I never put it off again. I learned my lesson.”
Although follow-through is important, circumstances also need to be considered. In some situations, consequences might be more effective if they are a little more lenient. Kim Kotter of the Tucker Georgia Stake had gone to a stake dance with some friends from her ward. When it was time to come home, they could not find one of their group. By the time they found her and arrived home, Kim was much later than she should have been. Kim’s father recognized the difficulty of her situation and, instead of becoming angry, picked up the phone and said, “Phone, may I introduce you to Kim. Kim, this is the phone.” In this humorous and calm response, he let Kim know that her curfew was still important and that he would have liked a phone call telling him of the problem, but that he also understood what had happened.
When parents remain firm in their standards and guidelines, children also learn to stand firm. Jane Danneman, a counselor in the Young Women presidency of the Marietta Georgia Stake, says that teens do not bend to peer pressure unless their parents do. If parents give in to the repeated requests of their children, their children are more likely to give in to the repeated requests of their peers. Teenagers are quick to notice any form of hypocrisy. If they see that their parents are not truly committed to the gospel and to living its standards, they feel no need to be committed themselves. But when parents are unwavering in the rules they set and the lives they live, their children are more likely to stand firm, too.
Guidelines and rules are important in the lives of these Atlanta youth, but most who are doing well do not think of their parents primarily as law-givers. A common feeling among these teenagers is that their parents are friends—people they can talk to about anything.
Friendly Rules by Anesen, Ensign Jan. 1985


  1. That was a great article. I had a similar thing happen with Danika today about needing an excuse. She called me from the neighbors house and I'm pretty sure she wanted me to tell her to come home. She didn't want to hurt her friends feelings so she tried to use me to get out. I have (not so much recently) have been dealing with the kids not liking church on Sunday. Every time they say "I don't want to go, it's boring" I say "Well I do, I love to learn about Jesus and you can't stay home alone." I'm not sure about MAKING them go to sing. My kids haven't said they haven't wanted to go to a dance or music concert the school puts on. I say I'm not sure about making them because I saw this one girl at the last concert stand there not moving her lips and wore a frown the whole time. I felt bad for her. It was apparent that the parents made her come. I think it depends on the child. If your child says he/she doesn't want to go but then they get there and they sing and are fine, they probably need that extra nudge from the parents to get out the door. But...pushing a child in my opinion wouldn't be helping. I hope that makes sense. As for the church thing, we are trying to find ways for Sundays to be fun days. We don't allow computer games or video games. We only watch church shows and they don't go play with friends. They see this as boring so we are trying to show them that being with our family is all the fun you need. :) Sorry I didn't mean for it to be that long.

  2. Sandra--I know what you mean about "Making" them. I really don't think that is the right word I want, I think persuade might be the better choice. For example: With the school choir thing we reminded him about how much work he has done at school to get ready and how all his classmates need his voice, and also reminded him of the great treat we always get after recitals. That tradition in and of itself is a motivator! But really any child who is in the middle of playing a game wants to quit is hard so some persuasiveness is needed. It's all about the way you say it and your tone of voice. If you want them to have a good experience doing something they don't want to do you really have to be very careful about how you approach it. I like how you worded your response about not going to church. "I like to go and learn about Jesus." Teaching by your example is so good. Thanks Sandra for pointing that out.

  3. Awesome post. I think consistency, respect, and honoring your values is key. Following the Spirit can help us do it in a way that still honors agency. It isn't easy - so we have to trust ourselves in doing what is best for our individual families. Keep up the great work.


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