My wife and I have this discussion about once a week. No, it’s not about finances. Hold on, I’ll come back to it.
I used to be really messy.
When I was a teenager my room would be a mess. Clothes all over there floor, bed not made, you get the idea. Standard Teenager. Then I got into college, and
something switched. That changed. Probably due to living with people who were actually messier than me. It was like a switch. I was suddenly a neat freak. That continued on through my first year out a college and into my marriage.
Now I have two kids under 5.
Yep…that’s right. 2. They aren’t anywhere near as concerned about neat as I am. It’s just not where they’re at. They’re much more of a “let’s play with everything at once” kind of duo. You can imagine this grinds on me. It does, a bit. The problem is that neat and clean aren’t actually the greatest values in the world.[Tweet That] I don’t actually believe that “cleanliness is next to Godliness.”
We have some other values.
Fun and safe are our biggest values in our home. Now you can see where those two conflict a lot, but you can probably guess at which one will win out. “Son, I know playing in the road looks like fun, but it’s not safe. See the squirrel? Stay there and that will happen to you. Get out of the road.” So yeah, safe wins. There are some other values too. We don’t negotiate on Disobedience, Dishonesty, and Disrespect. Those are about it in terms of rules we try to make. (There are some others, but we could probably break them down into those 5 categories.)
So back to the conversation with my wife.
It usually starts with something like this. “Hey Jess, I’m frustrated about the state of our house, and I’m having to choose to live out of our values. Can you remind me if I start to freak out?” or “I’m sorry, I ‘m not living out of our values. Now I need to go apologize to B or C.”
You see, the reality is that I have things that are “values” that aren’t intrinsic yet. We all do. The best way to make un-intrinsic values intrinsic is to create rhythms for yourself so that you’re reminded to live by them.[Tweet That]
There are advantages to creating a value list as a family.
It’s a lot easier to hold to a standard a values than it is to maintain a list of rules. Primarily because, when asked why on being told to do something, you have a response that isn’t just, “because”. (I get that sometimes there’s the continual why game. That’s not what I’m talking about.) You can actually give an answer that teaches something and you know what values you’re giving your kids.
As your family grows, start with the values and not the rules. Your family will be healthier for it.