Whether a family calls them that or not, most families I know have rules. As babies become toddlers and then grow into children, more rules seem to spring up. In our family, there are little things that we are already teaching Elvie, even before she really knows why. We’ve started having her practice table manners, like waiting until everyone sits down to eat and using a napkin. Though she can’t say the words yet, when she hurts someone, she must indicate that she is apologizing before she moves on to something else. We want to teach her to be a kind, thoughtful person, and most of our rules revolve around that or safety. But our most important rules revolve around loving each other well. There are six rules that we have in our family, which will not change as our children get older and more independent, and these are the rules I strive most to teach by example and by my words.
If we follow these six rules, we are all happy.
Whether we are having a wonderful time or are miserable, whether we are at peace with one another or quarreling, we love each other.
This encompasses everything from good manners to resolving conflict. Even if we’re upset, we express that with respect.
Both words and actions can hurt others. It is important to be kind and to not hurt others even if we are hurt ourselves or frustrated or angry or sad.
Even though we strive to be kind, we are human beings, and sometimes we mess up. The important part is not that we don’t ever mess up, but that we do what we can to fix it when we do.
Because we know that we all will make mistakes, we forgive each other when we make them.
What’s that you say? I listed this one twice? Yes, I did. Because if we are loving each other, then we will be doing our best to keep the other rules, too.