There are those that say that rules are meant to be broken. Tony and I are not those people. We are the kind of people that appreciate structure and boundaries. We value clarity and find creativity to move more freely within a well-framed idea. Tony is much more of a rule follower than I am, but we agree that having certain standards just makes our family better. The way we see it, there are the people we were when we first met, the people we were when we first got married, the people we are today, and the people we both want to become. Having a sense of purpose and deciding together on some ground rules will help us get there as a family.
For different seasons there have been different rules. When we first got married, Tony noticed that I was invited a lot to go to parties where I needed to bring the checkbook. I explained what turned out to be a foreign concept to him – that these “parties” were events to help support different business endeavors my friends were entering into. Whether they were selling candles or jewelry or makeup or cleaning products, the purpose of the party was to demonstrate the products and have people buy them. This is how one of the first rules we ever had for our family (at the time, it was just a two person plus a cat family) was created: “We don’t go to parties where our friends sell us stuff.” This keeps us spending within our budget and out of making so many guilt purchases.
Becoming parents brought a whole new season and meaning to creating rules. One of the first rules we’ve had for our kids has been: “No screaming. No whining.” It is nearly impossible to enforce, but it’s important to us. We don’t like to hear either of those noises, so that keeps us accountable not to give in to the girls when they are being demanding by screaming and whining.
We want to be people who are allowed to make mistakes, but also who learn from those mistakes. This gets passed down to the girls through one of our little discipline routines. When our girls get in trouble and are sent to “time-out,” we bring them out of time-out the same way every time. We kneel, they stand, and we ask them to tell us why they were in time out. It’s not a trick question, if they can’t tell us, we’ll just tell them ourselves. Then we ask them to tell us if what they did was a good idea or a bad idea. (Again, not a trick. It was a bad idea.) Then they get to tell us what would be a better idea. Then we pray almost the same prayer every time:
Dear Jesus, please forgive me for ___________ (whatever I did that was a bad idea). Help me remember to be kind and gentle (or “listen and obey” or whatever would have been the better idea). And help mommy and daddy to be a good mommy and daddy. Amen.
Then we give big hugs and I love yous and everyone gets to move on. Our two year old gets it and our three year old has recently decided to pray her own words, but it’s usually pretty similar to what we’ve taught her. That last line is very important to us. We want the girls to know that Mommy and Daddy need help to do the right thing just as much as they do. We need to be reminded because we aren’t perfect. We ask them for forgiveness when we’ve been overly harsh or snippy, so they see that it goes both ways.
Along with rules, we have a few mottos. One of them goes like this: “We share because everything is a gift.” When the girls are having a case of “THAT’S MINE!” it’s an easy one to recite. All we have to do now is ask, “Claire, why do we share?” and she will respond, “We share because everything is a gift.” We hope it helps her remember, as it helps us, that owning anything is a privilege and everything we have has been given to us as a gift in one way or another. We want to be generous people who raise generous kids. We want to hold on to material things loosely and be ready at all times to give what we have away.
All of these mottos and rules come back to trying to create a home and a family where we are all encouraged to become the people we want to be. That includes Tony and I, which I was reminded about not that long ago when I came to him to work through some hurt feelings I was having about a friend. He listened and offered his perspective. Then he said, “Well, we don’t retaliate. We don’t hold grudges. We sacrifice for other people, right? We don’t keep a laundry list of the ways we are hurt or irritated. We forgive, right?” It was an example of this beautiful way that he leads me by setting a standard for our family that of course I agree with. He reminds me of who I want to be, regardless of how I feel.
These rules and mottos are really expressions of characteristics we want for our family. Keeping these things in mind helps direct our behavior toward one another as well as the decisions we make together. Here are some of the other common things you might hear around our house…
We forgive and ask for forgiveness
Be kind and gentle
Help clean up
We share because everything is a gift
Use your imagination
We exercise our talents
There is always time for books
One of the great benefits of being married is being able to start fresh with a family of your own. Maybe you grew up in an idyllic situation and now you are modeling your family after what you knew. Maybe you grew up in an environment that was harsh or critical or cold. Now is your chance to start fresh. You and your spouse get to decide together what is important and meaningful to you. Your family, your rules!
I love this way of finding purpose so much that I’ve been on the hunt for a great sign to hang in our dining room. Here are some that I’ve seen along with sources where I could find them, to give you ideas for your own house rules. Some are beautifully sturdy made from reclaimed wood. Some are simple chalk board scripts, which may work better as we get flexible with our rules.
via Cellar Designs
via Life Made Lovely
via Words to Live By
A DIY Project via Everything Sunny Always
We want to be a family who not only loves one another on purpose, but who also has a purpose that we all are working toward. We want to be a family of character, a family who is generous and kind, a family who admits mistakes and asks for forgiveness. We hope you’ll take inspiration from some of these signs and think more about the rules and mottos you have around your house. Do they reflect the people you want to be? Do they help you love on purpose? This week put some time into your own list, pursue a common vision, and #staymarried.
Thanks for stopping by!
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