Being explicit about expected behaviors helps children learn responsibility towards others. It teaches them that other people matter and are to be valued.
I was discussing family rules with some friends. These are rules of how members of a family are expected to treat one another. The goal is to have a happy household. My friend Pam said her children came up with the following rules.
- · Be kind
- · Be gentle
- · Exercise self-control
Her kids figured that everything fit within those three things and they did. The biggest hassle of being in a family is that your actions impact others directly. Being self centered hurts your family in a way that may not be evident or as direct and immediate as it is with your other friends.
For instance, if someone fails to put the milk away and it sours overnight, then no one will have milk for their breakfast cereal. Use the last of the hot water because you just had to have an extra-long shower and everyone else has to take a cold shower, which is rather annoying and unpleasant.
By focusing on being kind and gentle you remind yourself to take other people’s needs into account in addition to your own. By exercising self-control you take responsibility for your actions. You actively work to make sure you don’t negatively impact the other people in your house. In short, these rules help make sure you balance your needs with the needs of those around you. Which to me, is what Humanism is all about.
Does your family have rules of conduct? If so, what are they? My family’s rules are be nice, do your fair share of the housework and if you are in a bad mood, give yourself a time out so that you don’t negatively impact others.