Monday, March 28, 2016

Updated family rules and consequences

One of my most read posts (even now!) is about our family rules and consequences, written way back in 2012. That was one kid and three years ago. How precious. The six frames I used to hold the rule cards have since been repurposed and the consequence jar was lost 2 moves ago. Bless it.  

We have this hanging in the living room now instead. It's prettier and fit into a frame I already had. Win-win. Same rules, but a few different bible verses. 

My parenting philosophy hasn't changed, though we've shifted from man-to-man coverage to a zone defense. I still believe that there are some "family rules" unique to our little party of five, but that most rules about our behavior are God's rules, presented and reinforced in scripture. We still use natural consequences when someone has made a poor decision, like writing an apology note (as many times as it takes to get it right) when we've hurt someone. And the classic "go to your room to chill out for a while" happens at least once a week. 

This kind of parenting requires being intentional and present. It favors a calm, conversational tone rather than yelling. So, yeah, it doesn't always go well. 

Because no matter how present and calm I am, part of my attention is always elsewhere. I'm currently employing the "Come at me, bro" style of parenting, where I handle one crisis at a time, following through with the same consequence I threatened to use two weeks ago when we squabbled about it the last time.  

(Image taken from Pinterest)

Don't want to clean your room? OK! We'll bag it all up and give it away! Or maybe I'll pick it up for you, since I need to vacuum the floor, but I'll bill you for the work.  

Not going to eat that thing you just specifically asked me to fix for you? No problem! You can try again when the kitchen reopens for breakfast at 7am. Or better yet, make it and clean it up yourself. 

Not doing well in math? No worries! We'll do nothing else--no TV or devices-- until we've got a better handle on it. It's not a punishment, it's a reallocation of your free time.

These kinds of consequences usually take care of the problem quickly, but they may require "mean-mom face" and lots of consistency.  Natural consequences, I believe, help show on a small scale what happens when we don't prioritize loving God or each other.  And it's these small readjustments that help us avoid major ones as our kids approach teenage years, where the consequences can be much more severe.

In the quiet moments before the girls' bedtime, we pray about the day's events.  Is there something we're struggling with that we need to talk to God about?  Has a situation resolved that we need to give thanks for? Are we unsure of how to proceed and need guidance or direction? When we forget our prayer time, I see and feel a palpable change in the girls, like they're untethered from something. I often pray over them, but more and more they are taking the lead. 

So there it is, an updated version of our family rules and consequences, formed through research, experience, trial, and error. 
Had any "come at me, bro" moments lately?  What's your best parenting strategy? 

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