Just like most families out there, we are raising our children with a mixture of ideals coming both from myself and from my husband. Our mishmash of conservative and liberal views on how children should be disciplined defines our house rules. Here is a list of twenty of them, and the reasons that they are all in place.
1. No shoes in the house. This rule does not apply to our guests unless they decide that they are comfortable taking their shoes off, but I have always insisted that the children not wear any shoes in the house. It helps with general cleanliness, and really, children will step in anything. I don’t want it in here.
2. We do not use the word hate. It took a while, but even my husband and I have taught ourselves not to use it, especially not around the kids, and they get quickly reprimanded if we hear them say it. The word hate, I believe, is an incredibly strong, aggressive, and negative word that is only appropriate when used incredibly sparingly by adults.
3. We don’t label. My husband and I are very good at this one, and we constantly have to keep on the children to prevent them from doing so. It takes frequent reminders that it is not okay to call anyone a name. It is okay to express that you feel someone is acting a certain way, but not to label them as such.
4. We share. Although, as our kids have gotten older and have different aptitudes for caring for their belongings, we still stress the importance of sharing. Yes, they do need to have things that belong to them uniquely, but it is also important that they share well, and understand the importance of sharing.
5. We don’t interrupt. This one takes constant and vigilant work on my and my husband’s part. Kids get excited and feel that they must speak, but it is vitally important for them to learn to respect the words of another, and not speak over them. I know many, many, adults who have never learned this.
6. We never open the door to strangers, and even if we do know another person, we check with mom and dad before opening the door. It is a common-sense safety measure, and a very important one.
7. We leave our electronics at home. Unless we are going on a long car ride, we do not allow the children to bring their electronics out in public. Any video game that could trap their attention, and any earphones that could inhibit their hearing in public are serious dangers to the safety of children. I also believe that it is rude to be attached to these devices while out and about.
8. We say please and thank you. After ten years we are seeing very successful results from our hard work at enforcing this rule. I often hear my kids using these words without being reminded and I couldn’t be more proud.
9. We don’t exclude others. Whereas some people will claim that it is a normal thing for children to do at a young age, I absolutely disagree. Exclusion is mean and it is spiteful and unproductive. I think that we have a responsibility to make this fact clear to children at a young age.
10. We do not slam doors. This one is important merely for the salvation of fingers if you have a few young ones running around the house. I think that it will also serve us well as the children become teenagers, because there are few greater insults than a slammed door…and it is really bad for the hinges too.
11. We don’t chew gum…except for dad. My husband usually chews it when he is not at home anyways. It is unhealthy. Sugary gum is bad for the teeth for obvious reasons. Sugar free gum contains poison to make it taste sweet. Children have the ability to get gum stuck to anything and everything, and personally I don’t like to see kids walking around gnawing away like cows chewing their cud.
12. We do not beg. The rule is that once mom and dad say no, it means no. My kids are not allowed to go on and on with the please, please, please. It surprised me the other day when we had one of their friends with us and my daughter was absolutely appalled because she kept doing this.
13. We stand up straight. It is a huge challenge with my son, but he is getting a little better every day. We have explained to our kids that standing up straight displays their honesty, self-confidence, and their respect for others.
14. We help out. We make sure to remind our kids that it is not okay to stand by and watch someone else doing work without offering help. Now, in our own home, this can be a challenge with our kids and we have to keep a close eye on them, but in public, I have noticed that they are very good at helping out.
15. We do not keep secrets. My husband and I subscribe to the notion that you are only as sick as your secrets. Not only do we teach our kids that it is never okay in any situation for a child to keep a secret from their parents, but we also set an example for them by being honest with them about ourselves. Of course, there are age appropriate topics, but even if they ask us about something that we don’t think they are old enough to understand, we explain that to them, and promise that they will get an answer if they ask when they are older.
16. Two servings of fruits and vegetables before dessert. This has been my policy since the kiddos were babies, and I think that it has contributed greatly to their health. Now that we are off of refined sugars, dessert has become homemade treats or 100% juice, yet we still stick with it.
17. We clean up after ourselves. Not that it doesn’t require a lot of poking, and prodding on my part, but my children have learned to accept the responsibility for the messes that they make, they do not expect for me to pick up after them.
18. We taste it. My husband and I both love food, and in our house it is a policy to at least taste everything that we make. This means every time we make it, and our kids have been told how tastes can change. If you didn’t like asparagus last week, you might like it this week. This is the reason that all three of my kids now love asparagus.
19. We take care of our pets and we treat them well. My children are responsible for all aspects of caring for our cat and our dog besides the medical ones. They have always been taught to be kind and gentle with animals and anything less is unacceptable.
20. We forgive. This one requires ongoing learning on the part of the kids. My husband and I set a good example for them by not holding grudges, but the kids are learning slowly. We are still working on my daughter to forgive her brother for stealing a maraschino cherry off of her birthday cake three years ago.