I firmly believe that children need structure. They need to know exactly what to expect, what is allowed, what is not allowed, and what will happen when they disobey.
Proverbs 22:6 -“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.”
I’ve seen a lot of different ‘lists’ of family rules. I even tried using the one that the Duggar Family uses for Character Qualities. But that just didn’t seem to stick after the first week.
Other lists of rules didn’t have a biblical backing or I disagreed with some of the rules.
I decided the easiest thing would be to come up with my own list of Family Rules. I wanted it to be based on Biblical Truth. That was important to me because I don’t want my kids to think I’m just making rules up for their discomfort and to kill their fun. I’m following God’s commands and I expect them to also.
I have printed this poster and stuck it on the side of my fridge. When one of my children needs a reminder, I have him/her go to the fridge and read the rule to me (or I read it to them if they aren’t of reading age yet).
1. Honor God in Everything!
Not to long ago I heard about a family that had a mission statement based on having fun. I thought that sounded pretty awesome. I wanted to be a fly on the wall in their home and see how they had so much fun. I mean, who doesn’t want that out of life?
However, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that we are not put on this earth to have fun. That is not our purpose. So I put a lot of thought (like months!) into what I wanted our family mission statement to be. More than anything else I hope that my children learn to honor God in everything they say, think, and do! So that is our mission statement. It is short and specific. I can easily quote it to remind my children in just about every situation.
Am I honoring God or am I honoring myself? Am I doing what God wants me to do or am I doing what I want to do?
“You are worthy, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they were created
and have their being.”
Praise and glory
and wisdom and thanks and honor
and power and strength
be to our God for ever and ever.
3 John 1:6 “They have told the church about your love. Please send them on their way in a manner that honors God.“
2. Obey your parents immediately!
When my children become adults themselves, they will no longer have to obey me, but they still need to obey God. As a parent I want to teach my children to obey and to do so immediately! If I tell my son to clean up a mess and he procrastinates, it is my job as a parent to invoke consequences. If I tell my son to get out of the street, but he procrastinates, he could get seriously injured. As my children grow, I want them to learn that when God places something on their hearts, they need to listen and obey God immediately!
Exodus 20:12 (also found in Deuteronomy 5:16) “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.
1:8 (also found in 6:20) “Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction
and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.”
10:1 “A wise son brings joy to his father,
but a foolish son brings grief to his mother.”
15:20 “A wise son brings joy to his father,
but a foolish man despises his mother.”
23:22 “Listen to your father, who gave you life,
and do not despise your mother when she is old.”
3. Tell the Truth
I don’t know what it is about children that makes them such natural liars. I know part of it comes from such vivid and fresh imaginations–which is fine. But there is also the sin of flat-out-lying or specific exaggeration to possibly avoid discipline/get their way. While this comes as a natural tendency for them I want and need to teach my children that lying is wrong and sinful.
Ephesians 4:25 “Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.”
Psalm 119:163 “I hate and detest falsehood
but I love your law.”
Exodus 20:16 “You shall not give false testimony…”
1 John 4:6 “We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.”
4. Remember the Fruit of the Spirit
Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
As a parent, this is one my favorite Bible verses. It covers so many issues. Adults aren’t immune from these topics either.
I wanted to have a rule that was a No Yelling/Screaming/Whining/Temper Tantrums rule….which led me instead to a rule about self-control….which led instead to a rule that covered the Fruit of the Spirit. I also believe that it is more effective to tell your children what to do instead of what not to do. For example: tell your children to have joy instead of saying “stop whining.” Remind them of the positive traits you want them to have.
The Fruit of the Spirit covers so many different circumstances. For example: if my son is having a really bad attitude about doing school work and I’m really struggling to keep my patience in check, I’ll say, “I need you to tell me the Fruit of the Spirit.”
He will list them for me.
Then I’ll ask him which ones he is currently struggling with and which ones he is showing. Often times I’ll have to help him through this, which is part of it.
I might say something like, “You’re doing a good job with self-control because you are doing this work that you didn’t want to do. However, I need you to try to do a better job showing joy and peace. The way you are talking to me isn’t very peaceful.”
Now, I don’t want to lie to you or get your hopes up. After our little chat he doesn’t automatically become all smiles and fall in love with his school work. But he almost always stops the disrespectful attitude and any back talking.
I have a sign that lists out the Fruit of the Spirit hanging in my bathroom. It didn’t take very long for my family to memorize these after this sign was hung up. I found my sign on sale at a local craft store. However, I found the following on Amazon and they would all be helpful for your family to memorize Galatians 5:22-23.
5. Be Grateful
We are so blessed (blessed beyond crazy!! 😉 ). My family doesn’t have anything to be stressed or worried about. We are healthy. We are financially secure. We have religious freedom. We may not have everything we want, but we have way more than we actually need.
At times I’ll notice that my children (or even my husband or myself) will get in this habit of complaining. We get caught up in our selfishness. We get greedy. I hear things like, “That’s not fair!” Well, NO! Life isn’t fair! And thank goodness for that! If life was fair we would all die as soon as we committed our first sin! But Jesus took our place and paid that debt for us! So thank you God, that life isn’t fair! This reminds me of a Reliant K lyric, “This life sentence that serving, and I admit that I’m every bit deserving, and the beauty of grace is that it makes life unfair”
And for that reason alone, we should be grateful!
Ephesians 5:20 – “Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Colossians 3:16 – “Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.”
6. Put Others before yourself
Kids are selfish. Actually, adults are selfish too. This isn’t something that can be perfected just by establishing a rule. This is a life long lesson. However, constant reminders never hurt so it made our list of Family Rules.
Romans 13:9 – The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
The Parable of the Good Samaritan
…In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side.32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ 36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” 37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
7. Take care of your Possessions
Little kids don’t have to buy their own things, therefore they have a hard time understanding the concept of valuing something.
They also seem to hate picking up their toys. Kids can also be rough with their things. They throw their toys, they step on them, they leave their clothes all over the place.
My 3 year old daughter is old enough to pick up her room and her toys in the toy room. However, she would never do it! She would just stand there and let her older brother do all the work no matter how much we told her to help. If we tried to force her to pick up she would collapse in a temper tantrum and just cry the whole time. It was frustrating!
After I posted our Family Rules on the side of the fridge this stopped being such a big problem. One day she was suppose to be picking up the toy room but she was playing instead. I asked her to go over to the fridge and find the number 7 on our poster. She pointed to the number 7 and I read her the rule, “Take care of your possessions.” I explained what possessions meant. I told her God gave us all our stuff to be good stewards and it was our job to take care of them.
After explaining all this, I asked her, “What are you possessions?”
She replied, “My toys.”
Me, “How can you take care of your toys?”
Her, “By picking them up.”
Me, “Yes! That’s exactly right! Now can you please go take care of your possessions for me?”
She actually went back to the toy room and picked up! There is still a lot of practice left for her but we haven’t had to deal with nearly as many temper tantrums or complete disobedience in this matter.
Ecclesiastes 5:19–Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God.
You can download and print your own copy of Family Rules for free : Family Rules
What Biblical Truths do you try to teach your children?