By Lisa Smith
A couple months ago I went on a trip away from my family.
I try to go away at least once a year and plan my business, challenge myself physically and recharge. So, after six nights away I returned home.
My son (11 years old) was very excited to see me. In fact he jumped out of bed and leapt into my arms! His smile was ear to ear and he couldn’t stop hugging me. He kept telling me he missed me over and over. I didn’t give it a ton of thought other than to register how nice it is to be genuinely missed by my son.
The next night the three of us were laying on the couch and my husband asked me if I knew why my boy missed me? I said well, I’m not sure, other than he noticed I was gone and it made him feel sad. My husband (David) turned to our son and said go ahead and tell your mom why you missed her.
What happened next is a parent coach’s dream come true!
My son said, “well Mom I missed you but more importantly I missed your rules.”
I about fell over right there. I kept telling myself, “play it cool.” Don’t have a big reaction or he will clam up. So I simply said, “Really, tell me more.” He went on to tell me that rules help him feel calm. With rules he knows what to expect. Rules help him feel loved and safe. We talked about it for a bit and he said “Kids think they don’t want rules but really they do. Rules help us a lot even if we don’t want to follow them, deep down we know they come from a place of love.”
Wise soul, that boy!
Although I didn’t expect those exact words to come out of my son’s mouth, I cannot say I am surprised at how he equates family rules with love and security. In our family the few rules we have are derived from our family values. For example we ask our son to shower every night. He was very resistant to this idea when he was younger and actually thought we were asking because we were mean.
Once we explained the request to shower comes from the family value that our body is our temple. We honor our temple, we respect it and we care for it. One of the ways we care for it is to wash it daily. The light bulb went off, and he was able to understand the rule and the value behind the rule. As a side note, I will add that as a parent, rules born from family values are the easiest to reinforce from a calm and loving place.
Do you have the right rules?
So I ask you…do you have rules in place? I am not talking about punishments that are thought up in the heat of the moment. I am not talking about threats that come out of your mouth during a confrontation. I am not a fan of throwing something out that you can’t make happen or aren’t able follow through on.
For example you might you might say if you hit your brother again we are going to go home right now. This might not work if you’ve driven two hours to see your family, attend your niece’s birthday party and really don’t want to leave. Now, you have thrown out the threat and it is going to be hard to follow through.
A better plan might be to set the rule that every time you hit your brother you will be expected to apologize and make amends regardless of where we are and you might have to spend some alone time until you are ready to apologize. This rule, born from your family value that we treat each other respectfully, is easy to support, reinforce and follow through. Your kids know what to expect.
The steps will be the same each time. We can be calm and loving while holding the expectation that they will make amends for their actions.
Rules, rules, rules—when set upfront, from a calm and loving place, make the peaceful world go ‘round!
Lisa Smith is a mom, certified parent coach and international best selling author of, The Angry Parent: How to Find Peace in Your Parenting Through the Message of Anger. When she is not coaching, you’ll most likely find her at a basketball game rooting on her son or traveling somewhere new. She is obsessed with cross-fit, personal development and romance novels.
Her free Peaceful Parenting mini-course, full of tools, tips and support has been enjoyed by parents all over the world.
Editor: Dana Gornall
This article was originally published on Lisa’s site and re-published here.