Family Rules Signs Are Cute, but They Need to Be More Real

4 years ago

When we bought our new house in 2012, I frequently turned to Etsy to find bits and pieces of decor to make our house a home. At the time, "Family Rules" signs were becoming all the rage. I bought one and it hangs in our dining room, a testament to all of the things we will never quite live up to as a family unit. Oh, that's a rather negative way of looking at it, I suppose. But sometimes, I feel like I should have made a customized set of rules that applies to our family. You know, like, "Don't lick the dog," and, "OMG! FLUSH THE TOILET!"

I say this partially in jest. The rules on our sign are rules that I aspire to both as a parent in the family making the rules and a participant in the family who follows said rules. Currently, our rules are listed as such:

  • 1. Know that you are loved
  • 2. Dream big
  • 3. Always tell the truth
  • 4. Say I Love You
  • 5. LISTEN (to your parents)
  • 6. Try new things
  • 7. Speak kindly of others
  • 8. Work hard
  • 9. SHARE
  • 10. Giggle and laugh
  • 11. Keep your promises
  • 12. Sing, dance, laugh
  • 13. Do your best
  • 14. Clean up after yourself
  • 15. NO WHINING
  • 16. Say your prayers

That's good stuff, important lessons I want my children to understand on multiple levels. Honestly, these are lessons I find myself learning and relearning as I continue to age, as I grow as a parent and a human being.

Our oldest son recently (re)learned rule number three -- always tell the truth -- after being caught in a lie. What he lied about mattered to me a whole lot less than the fact that he outright lied to me and to his dad, multiple times. During our conversation about the consequences of the lie, I talked -- calmly -- about how this particular lie meant that mommy and daddy didn't know he needed help with a mistake, therefore we couldn't help him. As I said these words, I wanted to walk out into the dining room, grab a sharpie and write: Mistakes are okay.

I've wanted to add real rules like that over the past year-and-a-half of having the family rules on our wall. Not just the funny ones -- Don't fart on your brother's head -- but the real ones, the core values that we aspire to, that we sometimes don't know we aspire to until we're in the middle of living them -- Don't ever be afraid to ask questions, even of people in authority; especially of people in authority.

I've been feeling lately that we should start a running list of our family rules, above and beyond the cute sign on our wall. Both the funny and the real, so that it just becomes a true glimpse into what makes our family tick.

I'm encouraged to make our own running list of family rules after reading a number of posts on what other families find important enough to add to their lists. Kristen at We Are That Family shared her list, including this gem:

Apologize when you’ve done wrong, but please don’t yell “I’M SORRY!” across the house in an angry tone.

(Oops. I should probably add that in. For me.)

Tara at Feels Like Home Blog shared the rules that her daughter Grace wanted to include in their sign but didn't quite make the cut.

Always wear a shirt & underwear at the dinner table {She would come to dinner butt naked if I allowed her. Butt naked is her term, by the way.}

(We also have the "wear some clothes" at the dinner table rule. It's a good one!)

Crystal at Little Bit Funky has a rule that I think I need to make a separate sign for...

don't talk to mom until she's had her coffee.


I can think of a hundred others to add to our list, but I also know that there are thousands of others that I don't even know that I need to add just yet. We're not there yet. We'll get there, together, and I'll be ready with my pen.

What about you? What are your real and funny and everything in between family rules?


Family/Moms & Events Section Editor Jenna Hatfield (@FireMom) blogs at Stop, Drop and Blog.

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