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FAMILY TOPICS

Rules to Live With

Rules don't seem to be in big favor these days. Just take a drive on the Interstate and watch the drivers who have no concern for their fellow travellers, flagrantly breaking the rules. Darting in and out of lanes, speeding past on the right, showing total disregard for both laws and safety. The "Me Generation" appears to have become the "Me Society." "Hey, I'm sorry that my behavior is making your life miserable, but I am doing what is best for me."

It's the chicken or the egg. Has a lack of rules in the family environment contributed to the erosion of rules in society, or do we bring the society's increasing distaste for rules home to the family? Have we become less rule oriented because that is how we live our lives at home, or has ever increasing exposure to it on the outside of the home begun to invade our family units?

A family, like a society, just seems to function much better when there are some established rules. This is to by no means suggest that a family should be run in a Draconian fashion, just that by the setting of some livable rules, we are more likely to have a harmonious lifestyle, both within the family and when interacting with others. Nothing drastic: just a bit of acceptable behavior, not governed by some medieval code, but the realization that there are certain behaviors that are acceptable in a civilized society and certain that are not.
A few examples that many of us have seen (or are guilty of) are:

* Parents screaming at and overreacting to children in public places.
* "Bending the rules" when it suits you and having your family follow your lead.
* Children without even the slightest touch of supervision disrupting the lives of those around them and Mom saying "isn't Courtney cute?"


Some guidelines that may help

  • Children seem to live and progress better when they know what the parameters (rules) are. Constantly shifting limits don't seem to work for anyone--parents or children.
  • Rules are most effective when we live by what we preach. How can you convince a child that telling a lie is wrong when they see you do it all the time?
  • The effectiveness of family rules seems to increase when there is discussion behind them and when everyone understands the "why" behind the words.
  • Setting some limits and living by and enforcing them simplifies family life. Nothing is more difficult for a child to understand why a certain behavior was acceptable yesterday and wrong today.

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