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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Our House Rules

While I was reading blogs I read one about house rules over at intentionally kate's blog that inspired me to post about our house rules. This is a great blog with lots of inspiration and advice. Definitely check it out. Before I get into our rules let me say first a little about how I came up with these rules. If you have read my blog at all you know that I lean a lot toward unschooling. I think it's great as an education philosophy not so much as a parenting method. So I feel like from a Christian standpoint (and to keep a peaceful home) rules are needed. There was just way to much bickering and bad attitudes. It had been a hard year with lots of moves and changes and I really felt that we were in a bad place in our lives. One Sunday at church (I can tell you the exact Sunday in fact, it was April 15th) our preacher preached out of Joshua on the verse As for me and my family we will serve the Lord. Of course I had heard and read this verse many times but for some reason this was a life changing sermon for me because while I serve the Lord I also genuinely want to respect my kids and their thoughts and feelings. I don't want to force my beliefs on them but I want to gently lead them to Jesus though love and my personal life as an example. So I am always at war between being the parent (homeschooler) and letting them make their own choices (unschooler).  One day I'm going to post more about this but not today. After church I came home and prayed and did a Bible study and thought of each area of our lives that I felt we were lacking or falling short as Christians and as a loving family and I made a plan to do better. Okay, so that's the story behind how I came up with our house rules.We had used house rules before usually The 21 Rules Of This House so my kids were familiar with the concept. These are more personalized to what I feel our family needs right now. We begin our family rules with our family policies, Then we move to our family rules and finish with our family motto. We quote the words in black the word in blue are my explanations. 

Family Policies:
1. No Tolerance
2. No Warnings
This means breaking the rules won't be tolerated and warnings aren't guaranteed. I had to put the warning policy in place because they thought that they shouldn't be punished until they had been warned they were about to be punished. So I was always having to say if you keep doing this or that you are going be grounded or lose your phone or whatever.  But my theory is if you know the rule and you are breaking it you should know that you are in jeopardy of punishment. So no one is entitled to a warning if you get one great if not too bad.

Family Rules:
1. Respect: We respect each other in words, actions, and attitudes. We respect each others feelings, space and belongings.

2. No name calling. No rudeness. No annoying behavior.

3. No roughhousing. No wrestling. No rowdiness. (not indoors)

4.No bad attitudes, not in actions, facial expressions or body language. (we talked a lot about this and had the kids act out or give examples of bad attitudes until they really understood what a bad attitude is, Examples: whining, fussing, folded arms etc.)

5. We obey immediately, the first time we are told, without attitude. We obey everyone in authority over us.

6. Chores will be done immediately with a good attitude. Bedrooms will be cleaned before bed. (I'm not as diligent about bedrooms as I should be)

7. School is from 10 to 3. No phones in school. We will begin with prayer and Bible. We will be up, dressed, and ready to work by 10. (we don't always school until 3. If they get done early we stop early and Ashley works more on her own time schedule. On the other hand if their lessons aren't done by 3 we do work late sometimes. Kyle wakes up early alot of times so it's not a hard and fast rule)

8. Church Rules:
No Phones!
Sit straight up, no slumping or laying down.
No feet on pews
Face preacher,pay attention and participate in the service.
Do not leave without permisisson.
We will all go to the alter when called
Sit with me or on front row with teens

9.Bedtimes are 12 for Ashley, 10:30 for Kyle, 9:30 for Lacey and Lily. Staying up late is a privilege not a right.

10. 2 hours screen time! No t.v. during school. (could be enforced more. We don't have cable or satellite they can only watch whatever dvds or vhs movies we have so t.v. isn't a huge problem.)

11. Be active and productive. If we are being lazy, unproductive or misbehaving we will be given something to do. ( this sounds harsh but it's not, I'm not saying they always have to be doing something but laying around fussing and fighting will not be tolerated)

12. No gross or inappropriate behavior or speech. (Sorry it had to be said)

13. No whatever attitudes, not in words, behavior or body language. (if you have a teenager you will know a whatever attitude. They are hard to explain but easy to tell when you are being given one)

We are going to have an atmosphere of love, respect and gratitude. For each other, and most importantly for God.

After I came up with our new rules I called a family meeting to discuss them. This isn't actually the original version I came up with it's the revised final draft that we all agreed on.  Then we talked about and decide on what punishments would be implemented if the rules were broken. One of their ideas was physical punishments such as push ups, laps, sit ups, I have no idea where they got this idea, I don't know anyone who uses this but hey, it works so go figure. The other ideas were early bedtimes, loss of screen time or phones, no company, and extra chores. Spankings and loss of phone privileges are very rare. We recently added writing memory verses and/or the broken rule down.  I really wanted them to understand that the reason we have these rules in place is to teach us to live for Jesus the very best that we can. So we began learning a verse a week. I tried to find a verse that went along with the things we were learning. I listed some of the verses :
Proverbs 15:1 A soft answer turneth away wrath but grievous word stir up anger.
This is good for sassing and back talking. (Also good for rude or annoying neighbors)
Psalm 119:11 Thy word have I hid in mine heart that I might not sin against thee.
Proverbs 12:22 Lying lips are abomination to the Lord: but they that deal truly are his delight
Romans 12:18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. 
This is one of my very favorites- if at all possible make peace, my son has really become a peacemaker after memorizing this verse, not just in our family but with his cousins also. We talk about and discuss this verse acting out different scenarios and how they can bring peace to the situation. 
Ephesians 6:1-3 (obedience)
Philippians 2:14 Do all things without murmurings and disputing.
(no complaining)
Romans 12:10 Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another. 
I focused  on the giving preference part and we talked about letting the other person having their way. I actually told them the kind of fights I should hear should go like this: "Here Kyle you can sit up front". "No. No Ashley you go ahead." No it's OK Kyle I sat up front last time you go ahead". NOT "MOM MAKE KYLE GET IN THE BACK"!!! Hey, I can dream right?
Matthew 7:12 Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the.
Treat each other how you want to be treated not necessarily  how you are being treated.
Romans 12:21 Be not overcome by evil but overcome evil with good.
Excellent verse! If someone is not being nice don't respond in the same way. Respond kindly. 

I really do believe that as Christian mothers we are called to train a child in the way that they should go. I have seen such a change in their hearts and attitudes since we started doing this. I believe kids need structure and rules. I read a book one time that said when children are born into a family it's like a foreigner coming into a strange land. They don't know the customs, they don't speak the language, they are trying to fit in without knowing what is expected of them. The same way with children without rules and guidelines they don't really know what is expected, they sometimes feel insecure and confused. I think one of the biggest mistakes I made with unschooling was throwing so many of our rules out the window. Not all of them of course, but too many. I don't want little robot children but I think we owe it to our kids, to God and to society to teach them to be respectful and obedient. I feel like our family motto pretty much sums it up. If we all treat each other with love, respect and gratitude, we can all get along in peace and harmony. I hope this helps someone and I would love to read about your house rules in the comments.

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