Rule Follower or Rule Breaker

It’s not wise to violate rules until you know how to observe them.  -T. S. Eliot

If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun. -Katharine Hepburn 

Two different views of rules.  Some people love having rules, because they know what is expected, how they should behave, and what standards are in place.  Others hate rules because feel trapped by the regulations, frustrated by the word “NO,” or fearful that they will be caught breaking the rules.

Most people’s current view of rules is greatly influenced by how they responded to rules as a child.  Think back to your own formative years:

Were you a rule-follower?
Did you clean up your room as you were expected to, not sneak any snacks, and turn off lights at bedtime right as the big-hand reached the pre-determined minute?  If so, it can be frustrating if your own children do not show the same level of respect for the laws in your home.  To make them obey, you may find yourself questioning whether you need to be more of a disciplinarian.  Don’t your children understand that the rules are in place to guide their behavior, keep them safe, and maintain order in the house?

Or were you a rule-breaker?
Did you love to see what you could get away with, feed your vegetables to the dog, and keep a flashlight under your covers for late-night reading?  If so, you may resent having to think about what rules you want in your home and having to enforce them.  You may expect that the kids are just going to break them anyway, so why bother?

Whether you were a rule-follower or a rule-breaker as a child, it is important to remember that rules serve an essential purpose in your home.  Rules reflect your values and help you to set appropriate expectations for your children.  It does take time to set rules that will work for your family, but it is worth it. They will guide your children’s behavior and will plant that “little voice” in their heads that lets them know right from wrong. 

So, back to our opening quotes.  Now that you are a parent, which one best reflects your thoughts about rules?

By Deb Cohen, Certified Parenting Educator

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