Without rules, life is chaotic. Rules are a part of healthy family life. Boundaries provide a safe place for children to grow.
Rules provide guidelines for children which ultimately help them to feel loved and secure. And it’s good for children to know what is expected of them. Let’s put this concept in adult terms. You’re driving in a foreign country and are ready to make a right turn at a traffic light. A police car pulls up behind you. Is it legal to turn on right or not? You’re wondering what to do and perhaps even begin to feel a little anxious. Kids are the same when they wonder what the rules are and if the rules are truly going to be enforced.
Determine the rules as a family and post the rules where everyone can see them. The Ten Commandments are written guidelines from God. Obedience is needed both as children of God and within families. Looking in the rearview mirror, some of our family rules were quite comical but necessary none the less! Number 5 on the list was “We poo in the potty.” This was an important addition to the list as my youngest son was in the midst of toilet training!
“Family rules need to be clear, specific, positive, appropriate, and enforceable.”1
Rules can change as children mature. Curfew time changes as kids move from tweens to teens.
One rule Scott and I have made non-negotiable for the boys is, “No helmet, no wheels.” This includes bikes, skateboards, in-line skates, scooters, and anything else that can roll. I had a mom tell me once, “My child is so close to the ground on his tricycle, he really couldn’t get hurt.” Wrong! The Mayo Clinic has information regarding bike helmet safety for adults and kids. By the way, when Mom and Dad wear helmets, kids are more likely to do the same. Modeling matters!
Take the time to make the rules for your family…with your family. When everyone is involved, each has ownership and accountability.
And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands.
As you have heard from the beginning,
his command is that you walk in love.
2 John 1:6
By Becky Danielson, Christian wife, mom, licensed parent and family educator, and the co-founder of 1 Corinthians 13 Parenting. You can find her on the new website, FaithFirstParent.com. She writes for Hooray for Family, an online and print magazine and facilitates the Parent and Family Education program at a Christian preschool in the Twin Cities. She always wears a helmet while downhill skiing or biking!
Becky is also the co-author with Lori Wildenberg of Raising Little Kids with Big Love and Raising Big Kids with Supernatural Love both with Study Guides. Contact Becky to schedule a workshop or retreat for your church or group.
1. Wildenberg & Danielson EMPOWERED PARENTS: Putting Faith First (Gainsville: Synergy, 2003), 31.