Part of being a Mean Mommy, as you may have already discovered, is the presence of rules that are consistently enforced. Because our little rapscallions consistently break said rules, I felt it would help if we had a contract with each other.
I started searching the net, looking for other examples to draw from. I found an outstanding set of rules written by Micheal G. Conner, Psy. D on www.crisiscounseling.com. I really felt that the points he makes in his article would hit home with our kids, so I edited it for our personal use. Here is the result, re-written in language that our 6 and 7 year old kids can understand:
The Truth About Families…
Truth Number One…Children are not grown-ups or parents. Children are never the boss of their parents. Children have some choices and some freedom but only what their parents say is OK. It is the responsibility of parents to teach their children how to survive and be successful.
Truth Number Two…Children have the right to healthy food, a safe place to live, education, health care, and clothing. Parents do not have to give their children anything else, including toys. Parents do not have to be generous.
Truth Number Three…Children are expected to follow directions and listen to their parents. Parents may sometimes explain the reasons but don’t always have to.
Truth Number Four…Children are not allowed to hurt anyone or try to make anyone to do anything. Children have consequences and lose some freedom, choices and privileges if they are not following the rules. Parents have to control their children more when their children choose not to follow the rules.
1. No Profanity. I will not use “grown-up words”. These words are also called “curse words” or “bad words”. I will use other words to express my feelings.
Reason: Using grown-up words can sometimes be unkind and disrespectful. Most people think grown-up words are ugly and they will think badly of you when you use them. It can become a bad habit to use those words, and you might become a potty mouth!
2. Be Respectful. I will be courteous to family members and guests in our home, treating them with respect at all times. There will be no rudeness, putdowns or insults. When I meet people I will say hello, introduce myself, and make guests feel welcome. If I hurt someone’s body or feelings, I will try to understand how they feel even if I don’t think I did anything wrong. I will always apologize.
Reason: Polite and courteous behavior is necessary in order to be successful at school, work, in friendships, and marriage. People do not want to be with someone who is not nice to them!
3. Clean Up After Yourself. If I spill or break something, I will clean it up right away. If I make a mess while playing or working, I will clean it up and leave it the way I found it. Messes in a family area will be cleaned up when I am finished. Messes in my room will be cleaned up before going to bed.
Reason: This behavior is necessary to get along with friends, roommates and your wife or husband. When you have a job, your boss will expect you to clean up after yourself.
4. No Hurting. Any family member who screams, hits, bites, pushes, breaks, or throws something in anger will take a mandatory quiet time out on their bed for ten minutes, then apologize, and then talk about it.
Reason: When you have a job, your boss can tell you not to come to work, or you get in trouble, or you may even be fired for bad behavior. Destructive and violent behavior is a crime and you can be arrested, go to jail or be fined. Giving yourself time to stop being angry will always help you solve problems in a good way.
5. Respect Property. I will ask before I borrow or take something that belongs to someone else. Borrowed things must be put back where they belong and be in good condition.
Reason: Friends, co-workers and family members don’t trust and will feel angry towards people who break or take things without asking. Stealing is against the law.
6. Respect Personal Space. All family members must get permission to go in someone else’s bedroom. If the door is closed, knock and wait to be let in. If the door is open, you must ask for permission to go in. Parents may go in without permission if the door is open or after they have knocked.
Reason: People expect others to respect their privacy at work and in their homes. Our bedrooms are our personal spaces and need to be respected at all times.
7. No Ugly Behavior. I will not get out of responsibilities or consequences for breaking house or school rules by pouting, whining, acting like it wasn‘t my fault, crying, being rude, or angry. I will not argue with my parents. I know that they value me, my thoughts, and my ideas, but arguing about it will not change their minds.
Reason: Trying to making others feel bad to get what you want is not acceptable behavior. When you are a grown-up, bosses don’t want people who act like this to work for them. Teachers will not pass you or give you better grades. People do not like to have people who act like this as friends. Making a point and discussing ideas with others is a very important skill to learn, but arguing is not a good way to do it.
8. No Hijacking the House. If I am upset, unhappy, angry or annoyed I will give myself a time out in my room so that I can calm down. I am not allowed to hijack the house with my negativity. I will talk with my parents, teachers, or family members if I need help with a problem.
Reason: Friends, teachers, husbands, wives and bosses expect people to work their own problems out and not try make others feel unhappy, too. Bosses will fire you, your husband or wife might ask for a divorce and your friends won‘t want to be friends with you anymore.
9. Be Responsible At Home. I will complete my chores and daily responsibilities that my parents tell me to do. If they ask me to do something, I will do it the first time they ask without complaining.
Reason: Bosses and teachers will expect me to finish my work and assignments so that I can get paid or get my grades in class. Bosses don’t pay for half efforts and work that isn‘t finished. People don’t get paid for showing up – people get paid for working. Complaining to your boss about what they ask you to do is the fast way to get fired!
10. Be Responsible At School. I will complete my classwork and homework as assigned by my teacher. Mommy and Daddy will supervise my homework to insure that I am receiving the education I need.
Reason: The parents’ job is to help their children by guiding them and teaching them good homework management skills. It is not their job to give them answers or do their homework for them. It is also their job to make sure their children go to school.
11. Get Involved In Family Time. I will attend family dinners and family activities unless excused by a parent. I will interact, be polite and respectful. I will try my best to have a good attitude even if we are not doing something I enjoy. I will ask to be excused before leaving the table or any family activity.
Reason: Social activities, creating friendships, communication skills, cooperative and polite behaviors are essential skills for workers, bosses, parents and owners of business.
12. Tell the Truth. I will always tell the truth. Lying will only get me into more trouble.
Reason: Lying makes people not trust you. When people don’t trust you, they don’t believe what you say. People don’t like being friends with a liar. If you lie to your boss, you will probably get fired.
13. Be Your Own Boss. I know that I am the boss of what happens to me. I choose my actions, thoughts, and feelings. No one can make me feel anything that I don‘t want to. I am the only person who can control who I am on the inside. I know that making a choice to behave good or bad is the same thing as choosing good or bad consequences. I know that I can choose to be happy and enjoy privileges or be sad about getting in trouble.
Reason: In our lives, there are good and bad consequences for everything. People who choose to be mean to others will have no friends. People who work hard will have the chance at better jobs. People who treat others with respect and love will be respected and loved.
We have read and discussed these Family Truths and House Rules together as a family. I understand the purpose of these rules is to help our family work together to create a happy and healthy home. I understand that these rules will also help me to be to be a better person and be liked and respected outside of our home. I promise to always try my hardest to make good choices and follow our House Rules so that our family can be strong and happy. I understand that there are always consequences for my choices. If I follow the rules and make good choices, I will have more freedom and privileges. If I do not follow the rules, I will have less freedom and privileges will be taken away. Mommy & Daddy will always make sure that the consequences are appropriate and expected.
We sat in the living room together as a family, and I read the rules to the kids. After each one, we talked about it and came up with examples from our daily lives. The signed contract was placed on a clipboard where the kids can get to it and read it if they want to. So far, it has been great knowing that everyone understands the behavior that is expected of them. I plan on going over it again every so often to help reinforce the fact that respectful behavior makes us a stronger, happier family unit.
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