Who Rules The Roost? (Episode 309)
Do you have rules in your home? Maybe, like me, you'd rather call them "guardrails" than actual rules. Rules are meant to be challenged, right? My friend Deb has a great acronym for RULES that will help you with some tips to put some parameters while adding a little bit more fun into your household.
Let's talk parameters here. I like to view our rules more as guardrails that keep us in the right lanes to flow well in life. I have referenced often my concept of "bathtub boundaries with an ocean of love."
I came up with this when my oldest was two and challenged us on every rule, questioning everything. Ah, if I had recognized then the questioning being a brilliantly curious mind instead of just trying to get under my skin! So this "bathtub philosophy" is simply looking at how things are framed.
If you have a toddler in the bathtub with all their toys, they may thrive in it, playing contentedly with their toys and having a great time.
Yet, take that same toddler out to the middle of the ocean and drop them in, and it's a terrifying experience. They don't know where the bottom is. They only see the ocean in any direction. When there are no boundaries, what was once fun can be a very different experience.
When we don't give any kind of regulation, we have kids consistently pushing forward trying to find the boundary - and until they hit that guardrail, they are just flailing around all over.
I remember having a family I babysat for who were very permissive parents - their kids ran the roost. And I came and immediately laid out some ground rules for when I babysat so I didn't get completely run over. Oh, the irony that the more I laid out clear expectations, the more they wanted to spend time with me. And these kiddos who got everything they wanted in their house - except for when I was there with my guardrails - would cry when I left. They enjoyed knowing what was expected of us all to have a good time together.
What Does Your Family Represent?
When I was growing up, my family mission statement was a poem that was called "A Safe Place." My mother wrote it down and put it in prominent places in our house so all of us memorized it. And there is one whole paragraph of it that says,
"In a safe place, there are rules. The rules are few and fair, and are made by the people who live and work there, including the children."
Yes, our whole family discussed rules and boundaries together. And we aligned them with the family vision we'd created. In our own home, our family vision boils down to six words:
Explore. Respect. Listen. Connect. Learn & Love.
When you establish a family vision altogether, it sets the precedent that you are a team, and you're in this together. And for that reason, we often do invite our children in to help set the parameters in our home. Funny enough, there are times when they will choose a much more harsh consequence than I would!
Setting guardrails allows you to "dummy proof" yourself as well - like the example we shared in the podcast above with us getting a phone for our teenager. Her knowing ahead of time what the parameters are around it is a better safeguard to keep her from getting sucked into it vs. us simply reacting when she's in over her head.
We have the guardrails already set in place before she's even getting the gift. And that's the beauty of it - dummy-proof yourself around your weaknesses. We do it all the time.
R: Recognize and appreciate your differences
We all have our own strengths. The more we can recognize those strengths in ourselves and others, the more we can capitalize on them and cultivate them even more. Our kids are unique. They aren't carbon copies of us, and they have their own opinions and interests.
Get to know what the sweet spots are in your home. Maybe one kid is great with animals - and it's an easy task for them to be responsible for the family pets. Maybe with one child there are clear parameters around when their technology is being used to keep them from getting lost in it, while there is another who could care less about tech.
Our kids are individuals - the more we can see them that way and help them with the tools to thrive, the better we can all move forward as a united front.
U: Understand that all generations bring value to the table
In business nowadays, we have a lot of generations that can be represented in the workforce. Sometimes that is undervalued, and ageism is still an issue. Too young, too old...yet those extremes often show us other perspectives that are so valuable.
At home, we oftentimes disregard our kids. And I have to say just a little thing on my soapbox here. Don't ever talk in front of your children and assume they are not hanging on every word. And that is your young children. I so often hear parents talk over their toddlers assuming that their toddlers are not processing what they say.
And I know firsthand, they do. I experienced it as I talked about my toddler Clara at two years old in front of her grandma. I was talking with Grammy about her poor behavior, and I was watching as my child was reacting to how I spoke in front of her. She understood, and she felt betrayed by me, talking about her as if she wasn't a living, thinking human being right there with us.
Our kids understand oftentimes well before they are speaking. Keep that in mind. If your child is already speaking, it doesn't mean that every kid is listening to every word, but I know some of them are and you don't know which words they are hearing.
Watch what you say in front of your children. If you're speaking about them and they are in the room, make sure you're acknowledging their own voice and you're including them in the conversation. You don't speak about adults in front of them as if they weren't there, so give that same respect to your children.
These little kids bring a lot of value to your home. They bring a different perspective to the table. They have feelings and emotions sitting at that are greatly impacted by others in the house. So take that into account because that's the energy floating around your home.
L: Lead a team of leaders
That means instead of being told what to do, I'm empowering my kids with the confidence for them to know what to do and to step into it. And yes, I mean letting them mess up in the process.
My youngest, Jules, is so similar to me. And wow did I notice it when she came to me with her podcast topic choice a few weeks ago. She tends to gravitate toward talking about the things she needs to call herself out on.
That's the honest truth as to why I do my podcast - to keep calling myself out on my own struggles to be as intentional in my motherhood as I can. I recognize whenever I'm struggling, I subconsciously bring up the conversations because as I speak it, I have to be accountable for it. It's important for me to be true to my word. And so if I speak it, it starts to become real.
Juliet wanted to speak on having a growth mindset and getting from A to Z without skipping steps. And she's been the first to admit she has struggled with just wanting to jump to awesome without the hard work!
I love seeing her grow as she leads others. Speaking up can be a great accountability to follow through.
If we can empower our kids and give them a voice and ask them questions, consider how much confidence they can gain in not only grasping the concepts but sharing them with others. And that creates a ripple effect of learning and accountability.
E: Engage candidly with others
Sometimes we put on this facade of who we think the world needs us to be, and we forget that the world needs our beautiful individuality. We can skirt around issues, speak cryptically and get frustrated when people aren't mind readers. If you're honest and speak your truth from the beginning, you avoid a lot of unnecessary frustration and resentment.
We believe in a red-light-green-light approach. If something isn't working, voice it. Then try something different. It doesn't mean you have to stick with it permanently. It simply means you're willing to try something different for a different outcome.
As Einstein says, "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result." Give yourself some room to explore what shifts can be made if you're open and honest from the beginning about what's truly working and what isn't.
S: Set clear expectations
Earn the right to inspect what you expect by being the example and not just voicing it. Show it through your words and actions. Watch your criticism - are you criticizing what you haven't actually communicated you were looking for?
We are not equipped to be mind readers. At this point in our human consciousness, figuring out our own brains is enough. We're not even capable of using our whole brain! So let's just focus on our own brains, and that means it's our responsibility to communicate that to others.
If you have a desire in your home you feel really passionate about, it is your responsibility to share that with your family. Even if your goal is personal and unrelated to them, there is beauty in sharing that with them - for accountability and because they are a part of your most intimate family team.
If you have a desire for the house to look a certain way, communicate that. Not only communicate it but also show it. Model it in your own life. I've made the mistake of just assuming that somebody knows how to clean the way I clean. Don't just assume - walk with them until you both are on the same page of understanding.
And don't forget about the beautiful addition of humor - it can help add some levity to a situation to lighten the agenda and create a more common playing field for your family team.
Take a breather
Ensure you're speaking from your feelings only. You can own how things make you feel. You don't have the right to tell anyone else what their intentions were. Their actions may not have represented to you their intentions, yet that doesn't mean you can tell them how they thought and felt. So own what is yours - YOUR feelings and emotions and perspective only.
Be careful how often you point a finger or say things like always, can't, never, and should. Those can be removed from a meaningful conversation to find common ground. These are all divisive words in a conversation.
Especially if I'm already feeling some charge in this, the best thing I can do for the sake of our relationship, whether that's with my children or with my husband, is to first off, take a breather and make sure that I am in a place where I am willing to listen. Because if I am not in a place that is willing to listen, there is not a conversation to be had.
It is okay to take a break. Don't force confrontation. Respect that people have different processing times. Some need to process what was said, some need to cool down so they don't speak from a spot of intense emotion. The only caveat is if you take a break to cool down, commit to when you reconvene to talk. Otherwise, it just becomes a landmine in your home.
When you own your emotions, you are better equipped with recognizing them and getting the tools to navigate them. And you are sharing with somebody else something that is 100% in your control. You are saying, "This is the feeling I am getting when you do this, and I want to communicate it to you. This is the part that I am in control of. and I am letting you know that this is how I am perceiving it."
Awareness is key. You can really shift the way you and your children navigate just by having some awareness of what's going on, of the rules, and of how others are feeling.
So, again, here is the acronym:
- Recognize and appreciate differences.
- Understand that all generations bring value to the table.
- Lead a team of leaders.
- Engage candidly with others.
- Set clear expectations.
Work on the guidelines in your home.
Collaborate with your kids and ask a few why questions to help them come up with some ideas guidelines and consequences in your home.
It creates such an amazing level of awareness in the family and a feeling of empowerment by everyone when you come together as a united front. You're looking at how to be a team that, again, creates that synergy and celebrates how the uniqueness in each of us strengthens all of us.