I saw this idea on a show - laugh, if you will - "The World's Strictest Parents".
I would like to think Dave and I as the parents in this household, the leaders (in the sense of showing the way, not dictating to the kids) of the house, could just model respectful, considerate and co-operative behaviours and our children would follow suit from that modelling.
The truth of our family life just doesn't reflect this, and so I've found myself wondering of late if a family contract - that we all sign, that is equal for everyone in the household from oldest to youngest - might be a good idea.
The contract would cover such things as:
- Communications - how we speak to each other and communicate our thoughts and feelings. What language we use. How we listen to each other. How we address difficult situations in particular where high tension might arise from opposing understandings.
- Our environment - how we care for and treat our environment on a daily basis, how we share the care for our environment.
- Our possessions - how we care for our possessions, how we share them, borrow them, disseminate them (if we no longer want them or wish to trade them for something else).
- Time management - how we get things done and have fun together as well. How each of the children get some one on one time with each parent in an agreed on period of time. This would also include such things as agreeing on eating together at meals, or organising specific times during the week when we can reconnect as a family.
These would be the broad areas and then within each area there would would be sub-area. Each family member would receive their own contract to sign and there would have to be some discussion about what goes into the contract so that we all have a say and can agree to abide by it. There would also have to be consequences for breaking the contract (for each family member) that everyone agrees on.
My thinking here is that if we can all agree on a code of conduct, a mission state, a family philosophy, then we have a solid ground from which to work and something to refer back to when things get tough. We've been winging it with regard to family life for many, many years and I've got to say, it's good when it's good, but it's not cutting it when things are tough and I don't like how we all treat one another - there seems to be a lack of cohesion that I find worrying...
Anyway, will discuss this with everyone at dinner some time this weekend and see if we can draft something soon...