Update 3/25/14--it seemed to go okay for a few weeks, but it's reached the point of sheer exhaustion for me, the enforcer. I feel that I am riding my older kids on an hourly basis. I sound like my mother, always screeching and nagging. I hear, "I heard you the first, second and third times, I'll do 'it' later." Later never comes. When I go back to work this summer, I'm hiring my cleaning service again. Maybe a dog walker and nanny, too. Maybe a nanny to clean, cook, walk the dogs, feed the chickens and take the kids swimming.
My family is non-traditional. There really is no other description for us. My husband and I met in high school, but we did not 'date' until many years later. We were roommates first, then we became engaged. We've been together for 19 years this month, married for 17 years. We have four children, two adopted through non-traditional means, and two 'home grown' children. We are very liberal in some respects, quite conservative in others. For example, my oldest son is 18, and well on his way to being covered in tattoos. I could care less how many tattoos the boys has. My daughter wants her nose pierced, again, I simply do not care. Her nose, her problem. She's too young for the responsibility now, but when she turns 15, we'll revisit the idea. I don't care much what they do with their own hair, either, and I really don't concern myself with how they dress. As long as they are covered and clean, I'm happy. Dress like a hooker and we will have a problem, but so far, so good.
The inspiration for our Ground Rules is quite simply--our family. My husband and I felt that we were living in constant chaos. We'd try to set boundaries, but we'd forget about them half the time or worse, my husband and I would have completely different opinions about something and the kids would work this to their advantage. Ugh. We created this list because we realized that it was impossible to follow the rules if you had no idea what they were. Doing chores was impossible if you have no clue what they were. So, here we are, umpteen years later, with chore charts and a 'contract' of expectations.
To begin this process, we met with our teenagers last night and went through every rule. We explained what needed explanation and had everyone sign the document so there would be no room for "I didn't know" statements.
Here it is, let me know what you think.
Starting Over – Building A Solid Family Foundation
As long as you live in our home, our rules must be followed. These rules were created based on our beliefs and morals. Please respect our values and we will respect yours.
- No tobacco use on our property.
- The car belongs to mom and dad. Using it is a privilege, not a right. Paying car insurance gives you the privilege to drive, not the right to drive.
- The cell phones belong to mom and dad. They are also a privilege. They will be confiscated if you cannot follow our rules.
- Absolutely no drug use permitted. Drug use will result in addiction treatment.
- No over-nighters with significant others. We do not believe that this behavior is appropriate for children in high school and after, so it will no longer be tolerated. If you cannot abide by this rule, pack your things and move out.
- No extraordinary activities, vacations or events unless your parents are contacted first and approve first. A simple phone call, not a text, to your dad or mom is appropriate. Anything less than this is disrespectful to our family.
- Church is not optional for the under 18s, for the over 18s, once per month is expected, as is Christmas and Easter services. Think of it as broadening your horizons.
- If you are out with friends, and you drink alcohol, please call us for a ride home. Our primary concern is your safety. No judging and no punishment for making the right decision to call mom and dad for help. Be prepared to talk about better choices but no punishment for seeking out help. We would rather drive you home in our car, not a hearse.
- Older children are expected to supervise the younger children 1-3 times per month so mom and dad can go out alone.
- Weekdays—S, M, T, W, H, 11:00pm
- This may be altered based on special plans. Talk to mom and dad BEFORE so there is no conflict.
- Absolutely no texting during school hours. Mom and Dad have put text limits on both phones, as well as data limits. If you cannot abide by these rules, surrender your phone and get your own.
- We respect your choices to date whomever you choose. We hope you will behave appropriately.
- Your family should always come first.
- Significant others or potential significant others may not enter our home unless we are here.
- Significant others may not enter your bedrooms.
- Your significant other should respect your family and their wishes, if they do not, perhaps you’ve chosen poorly.
- Chances are, you are a darling couple. We hope you are happy together and respectful to each other.
- Don’t even think about having babies in high school. It will not happen on our clock. All teenagers in this home must use appropriate birth control methods in order to prevent disease and unplanned pregnancy. Mom and Dad will always assist you in seeking out the services you need and we will pay for it through college. No judging on our part.
- As long as you live in this home, you will attend therapy.
- You will communicate your plans in advance so as to avoid any disruption and miscommunication within our family.
- If you double book and it conflicts with a family activity, discuss this with your family.
- You will tell the truth.
- You will accept responsibility for your actions, you will not blame others for your mistakes and you will accept the logical consequences that you earned. You will not complain about this.
- You will make this family your priority, as we have made YOU our priority.
- You will treat everyone in this home with kindness and respect at all times.
- You will always let your parents know where you are and when you will be home.
- You will complete your homework daily.
- You will complete your chores daily, and you will do them well
- You will clean up after yourselves.
- You will treat your family with love, kindness and respect.
- If you make a mistake, you will do what you can to right the wrong.
- Rated M video games will not be played while the boys are awake. No exceptions.
- Rated R television will not be watched while the boys are awake.
Employment and School
- You will graduate from high school. No exceptions.
- You must attend trade school, college, or some other career training program, or you must work full time upon high school graduation.
- If you choose to not attend college or training, you will be responsible for part of your living expenses. Payment is due the 5th of the month. If you do not pay on the 5th and you do not make payment arrangements, you will surrender your phone and all driving privs will be removed.
- Room and board: $200.00/month
- Car Insurance: $150.00 TBD
- Cell Phone: $50.00 TBD
Mom and Dad Will:
- Adore, cherish, and love you unconditionally. That means that no matter what you say or do, we will STILL love you. Nothing will ever change how much we love you. You could tell us daily that you wish we dropped dead, and it wouldn’t change how much we love you.
- We understand that you are your own person, not miniature versions of us. We will respect your values and morals as long as they are not harmful.
- We will respect your choices.
- We will support you emotionally forever.
- We will help you in any way we can, in any capacity you want.
- We will always accept you for who you are and where you came from.
- We will reward your accomplishments.
- We will always be here for you.