Given that the family is the basic unit of society, We need to examine laws and rules from that perspective. The first family on earth, Adam and Eve, began the first Kingdom and family rules. These rules were God’s rules or commandments. We found that the family mission statement is the “Preamble” to the family government, but family rules are really the “Constitution” of the family. The family constitution incorporates God’s rules and those of the society in which we live. The Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution is especially appropriate when defined at the family level. Family rules, like the Constitution of the United States, are a special document. We recommend again a special meeting every few years (or as required) to review these rules as a group. Of course, new rules or interpretation of rules can be discussed at any Family Council meeting. Like God's laws, help make us free, provide peace in the family and a space for growth. The rules need to incorporate both principles of “Justice and Mercy” and taught by Jesus Christ. Taylor Family Bill of Rights Freedom of speech Security and right to defend one’s self from danger No trespassing Right of personal property - search or seizure Due process of law and application of the atonement Fair hearing Review of offence by council if requested No cruel or unusual punishment We have generally found that our rules are also really derived from larger principles or commandants of God. For example, “Love they neighbor as thyself” has many implications for individual family members and interactions with others in the family. How do you define this rule for small children?
What are the consequences of not keeping family rules?
Our rules have consequences associated with them. These are natural and logical consequences where possible. The consequence is always focused on the act not on the person. Consequence should focus on the long term end result if the behavior or act continues. Children: the Challenge by Rodulf Dreikurs with Vicki Soltz was given to us by my mother and provides some excellent resources on this topic. Love and Logic by Foster Cline, M.D. & Jim Fay also gives some practical examples.
One of my favorite examples is the rule: We do not jump on furniture.
Our oldest son, Kenneth, was a jumper as a little boy and liked to use the furniture. In Family Council we discussed the concern about the furniture and the result. The long term consequence of jumping on the furniture is that the furniture will break and we cannot sit on it. So the logical consequence rule from the Family Council for jumping on the furniture was: "No sitting on furniture for two weeks even to eat." Kenneth was not to happy standing to eat for two weeks but it worked. To this day, no child or grandchild jumps on the furniture in our home!
Note: We found the children in Family Council often proposed harder consequence than we their parents would. We added a balance of justice and mercy. An interesting observation!
Here are a few other examples of our family rules. Note the template form: Rule, Why and consequence(s)
Rule: We do not take/use other people’s things without asking Why: If we take things without asking it is like stealing and we want to be honest. Consequence: Returning the object and, expressing regret. If it happens again, follow the same approach. A third time they are not allowed to enter the person’s room without asking.
Rule: No TV during test week. Why: Quiet time is required so we are not distracted when preparing for major school tests. The lack of study will result in poor grades and lack of opportunities in the future Consequence: No TV for an additional week.
Rule: We do not date until we are sixteen Why: We follow the Prophet’s counsel in "The Strength of Youth" pamphlet Consequence: Use repentance process and feel Godly sorrow.
Rule: We call if we are going to be later than planned curfew Why: We are concerned about each other’s welfare and being obedient Consequence: Grounded at home where we are safe or specific reporting times for a week to develop the habit of reporting.
Rule: Parental permission is required to take the car and if plans change call to determine impact. Why: Driving car is a privilege and we must use the resources and consider other family members Consequence: Reduced driving privileges for a week to month as mutually agreed. Note: This rule was especially critical when we had six drivers and only two vehicles.
A form is available to use and preserve your rules in a Family Council Workbook.