Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah

May 12, 2005
Writing down family policy spells out what’s expected

John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester, said “Before I was married, I had had three theories about raising children. Now I have three children and no theories.”

Where did the plans vanish when he needed them most? What are some current theories or secrets for raising children and having them be the envy of the entire neighborhood?

Experts say the secret is in writing a family policy with input from of all children, revising it when necessary but always using it as a guide for what’s expected of family members.

Having this navigational tool in place — and knowing where you’re headed in word and thought — makes it possible to sail a straight course instead of getting lost at sea.

A solid family policy would contain a life vision for the child and beliefs on such issues as: pulling their weight in the family; supporting other family members; drug use; dating; contributing to the community; success in school; and values such as honesty, morality, punctuality and good citizenship. The list could go on and on according to family needs.

Basically, what is accomplished in writing a family plan is teaching healthy beliefs and establishing clear standards [rules or guidelines]. The policy showcases what a family believes is appropriate behavior for each member and what consequences are in place if they don’t follow the clear, written standards. More important, by far, is what will happen if they do obey. Rewarding or recognizing compliance is far more effective, in the long run, than punishment for breaking rules.

To give you a head start on the Earl of Rochester, it is suggested parents work together in total agreement, forming a united front in implementing the process. There’s nothing more pitiful than a child pitting parents against one another as they finagle themselves to victory. In such a case, I’m not sure who’s in the driver’s seat. Children, however, will learn limits when the answers coming from Mom and Dad are exactly the same.

Now, we know who is in charge and children will have internalized an invaluable lesson to use when the tables are turned and it’s their chance to be a parent.

These and other family tools are taught in the Guiding Good Choices workshops, which are available to parents of children 9-14 years of age in Tooele schools. Contact Anna Heywood (Communities That Care) at 843-2187 if you’d like to know more or would like to sign up for a new cycle.

Milo Berry is coordinator of Communities That Care®

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