Rules govern almost every part of our lives. We follow rules in the workplace, we follow the laws of the country we live in and we follow our own set of rules based on our own set of values and personal belief system. We may grumble about these rules from time to time, but for the most part we recognise that without them, chaos would ensue. It’s simple logic, and yet as parents we don’t always recognise the significance of this and how it’s also applicable to family life. For example, we may think that we’re on ‘the same page’ as our spouse when it comes to our parenting values and the expectations we have of our children, but unless we’ve sat down and had a conversation about this, then how can we be really sure?
It can be very confusing for children when their parents can’t agree on a clear set of rules and guidelines, as they often end up receiving conflicting messages from each parent. When parents fail to agree and children aren’t clear about what’s expected of them, this creates a sense of uncertainty and children will often start to misbehave as a result. An article recently published in Psychology Today explores this issue using the example of a real-life family, in which the parents were conflicted in their views on how they wanted to raise their children. The article shows just how damaging this can be for children, and stresses the importance of establishing a set of household rules and guidelines in order to help family life function more effectively.
These rules should be something that both you and your spouse have agreed upon together, so start by sitting down and having a conversation about your parenting values and expectations of your children. This can be very revealing in itself, as couples can often find that they aren’t as aligned in their approach to parenting as they may have previously thought. Once you’ve reached a set of rules and guidelines that you can both agree on, now is the time to sit down with the children and present these rules as your ‘family constitution’.
Presenting a united front to your children in this way conveys a sense of partnership and teamwork, and this in itself is a very powerful message to send to our children. When a couple are aligned in their approach to parenting and and can find a common ground on their expectations of their children, family life functions more effectively and becomes so much more enjoyable and rewarding as a result.