As parents of five adorable children, we have to set the rules of living together. We try to set these rules on a daily basis, in small doses, not in lectures.
Here are our top ten, in no particular order:
You are unique
"Each one of you are unique and unrepeatable, there is no one else like you and there will never be another one like you. So you are not allowed to compare yourselves with each other, as I am not allowed to do so."
Setting a good example: chores
"You have the responsibility to set the good example for your siblings. All of them count on you, so when you do your chores, do them the best you can, as if somebody was grading you on it. God is the one that will know how good you did it. Your brothers and sisters will learn how to do each chore from watching you. So do it perfectly and offer it as a gift to God, I’m sure you will make Him happy."
"When talking to each other, and to anyone for that matter, use the magic words 'please' and 'thank you'. It feels nice when other people care about you and respect you."
Controlling your feelings
When we see them envious, jealous, selfish or angry, we try not to overreact and help them discover what is that powerful feeling that they have inside them, so they can identify it and control it, instead of exploding.
We tell our children that one of the best things of living in a large family is that you have a lot of stuff, you can share your clothes with your sister, the music with your brother, you don't need more people to have a team on a rainy day, you can still play dolls with your sister. So sharing is very important.
Caring for the family's things
There are some things that don't have a specific owner at home, they are the family things. We all have to take care of these things, like our couch, the backyard, the TV, the computer, the remote control, the scissors, the glue, the tape, the silverware, the dishes, etc. Care for them. Use them wisely.
"Respect your siblings' privacy: knock on the door before entering, don't sneak into their stuff, don't read their e-mails, or messages, don't talk about their secrets...
"Always ask permission to use something, and lend the thing that you are being ask for, maybe you will need something tomorrow. Respect others belongings, do not damage them, put them back in the same place where you found them, don't wear something if it is to tight, you may stretch them big for your sister...
If you break something that is not yours, even if you are scared to death of the consequences, admit that you broke it, say that you are sorry, and try to pay it back. If you are the affected party, accept the apology, and help your brother to go through this difficult time, he might be feeling very bad and sorry."
Helping each other
"Help around the house, even when is not your turn to do something or is not your chore; you can help with your brothers' homework, placing your dirty clothes on the basket, drying the bathroom floor after taking a bath, placing a glass of water on your parents night table (here is to hoping!)". The idea is to let them know that doing more is better than doing less.
Caring for one another
"We have to remember that the most important thing to take care of is ourselves, taking care of one and another, at school, the shopping mall, the movies, crossing the street, everywhere. Don't forget to always keep the members of your family in your prayers, so baby Jesus will help them solve their problems at work or school."
I will be expanding on all of these topics in future posts.
It is fun to live in a family, enjoy!