Never having given birth to anything except, perhaps, a good idea, I am in no position to tell anyone how to rear a child. However, having taught children in both the county and city schools for 29 years, I can safely say with confidence that youngsters like rules and boundaries. They feel more confident and secure when they know just how far they can go in any given situation.
Once, it was called to my attention that a certain band director was lax about teaching the fundamentals of music and did not enforce discipline in his practice periods. When concert time came and his band sat down to play, it sounded like whoever got through first, won.
When his group entered a regional contest, his adjudicator wrote on his band’s critique sheet, “Children will do pretty much what you expect of them. Apparently, you don’t expect much.”
That impressed me. Parents who expect acceptable behavior from their children are more likely to run a more peaceful household than those who don’t.
I became acquainted with a family motto as my sister, Datter, was rearing her two children. She married a Scotsman by the name of MacLean. The Scots are known for their frugality, so it is not surprising that the MacLean family motto was, “Use it up; wear it out; make it do; do without.”
My childhood friend, Mary Sue (Krippenstapel) Deters, visited Harlan recently. She can speak with authority about child rearing, being the mother of 11 grown children and the grandmother of numerous various-aged youngsters and toddlers. It goes without saying that her home had to have rules or there would have been, now and then, nothing short of chaos.
Once while visiting Mary Sue at her farm in Walton, I happened to notice a set of a “baker’s dozen” HOUSE RULES hanging conspicuously from the kitchen’s utensil rack above her cooking island. It occurred to me that her house rules were worth sharing.
1. If you open it, close it.
2. If you turn it on, turn it off.
3. If you unlock it, lock it.
4. If you break it, admit it.
5. If you can’t fix it, call someone who can.
6. If you borrow it, return it.
7. If you value it, take care of it.
8. If you make a mess, clean it up.
9. If you move it, put it back.
10. If it’s none of your business, don’t ask.
11. If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.
12. If you don’t know how to use it, leave it alone.
13. If it will brighten someone’s day, say it.
Rules are good things to have and keep. They define “in bounds” and “out of bounds” in homes, in schools and in society.
Mary Sue’s house rules could be put to good use in most homes and the Scottish frugality rules were aimed at preventing waste. The simplest rule of all, though, other than the Golden Rule, is perhaps the most welcome in homes where there are little ones, “No Whining.”