Our family rules guide our conduct, how we are with one another. They’re a vital influence on family health.
The rules we live by are often unspoken, unwritten or assumed, which causes a lot of needless grief and strife and confusion. We may feel that our child is unruly. Or our partner! Yet when it comes down to it, we may not know which rules we feel are being violated.
Rules–to paraphrase the renowned family therapist Virginia Satir–relate to what we should and should not do at home or as a family. They touch on everything from how we handle money, resolve conflict, relate to nature, use language, and more. When we’re clear on our house rules, it’s easier for everyone to live together under one roof.
On a well chosen day, sit down for an hour or two with all your family members (no one is too small to participate one way or another). Together, make a list of all the current family rules you can think of. Brain storm, let everyone who can speak, write down all that comes to you, even if it seems outrageous. Have fun, and make it a process of curiosity and adventurous discovery.
Once you’ve unearthed your known and unknown rules, take a moment together to consider your inventory. Where do you agree? Where do you misunderstand one another? Where do you make assumptions?
A lot of what we see as provocations or poor behavior can simply be an unclear rule wrapped in an unspoken assumption.
A family rule inventory can clear a lot of those cobwebs and free up your energy too.