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When Rules Slide

when rules slideIn a family, every member is in perpetual motion.

Kids are evolving, getting smarter. Their needs are shifting— they progress, regress. Parents have their eye on the ball, and then they don’t. Distracted, tired, sick, preoccupied, traveling… we lose our grip, and the rules start to slide.

Our kids know this all too well, and can sometimes use it to their advantage. As much as it’s a pain, I expect this to happen in my home. In fact, if your kids are smart, that’s what they’re supposed to do— test the limits, push boundaries, be curious. I’m not saying that I condone breaking the rules when it happens in my home, but my kids are kids… it happens.

I see lots of parents get really hard on themselves when their kids break the rules. They act like their family is supposed to stay suspended in perfect balance and order all the time. Not only is that nearly impossible, but I almost consider it a missed opportunity. How can kids experience learn and grow when they never break rules and experience consequences? How can they internalize their own right and wrong compass when they’re too meek to ever step outside the box? And how can they know it’s okay not to be perfect when their parents hold themselves to a perfect standard.

We all drop the ball. Rules slide.

When it happens at my house, we talk about it. I take responsibility for not having my eye on the ball. The kids take responsibility for knowing they shouldn’t have done what they did, but did it anyway. I recalibrate everyone’s expectations. The kids recommit to following the guidelines. Everyone is clear on how to move forward. And tomorrow is a new day to start again.

Someday you won’t be there to tell them when to turn their phone after hours of scrolling and go to sleep. You won’t be over their shoulder when they are contemplating whether to send a nude picture to their boyfriend or girlfriend. Hopefully their mistakes won’t be tragic ones, but they will make them. And I want them to have the feeling of slipping up and recommitting in their muscle memory.  To know the why of the rules, which I feel comes from talking about them. A lot. If I can teach them all that when they’re in my care, I feel like I’m doing my job as a mom.

Do rules slide at your home? How do you handle it? How do you make things right again? 

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