The way we are with our families is often how we are with the world. Families that decide together how they will treat each other carry those guidelines with them into their social interactions. Each family member’s social interactions touch other people in their community—at school, at the grocery store, at the gym, at the office, in the doctor’s office, at the dentist, at the park. Gradually, the way we treat others impacts the relationships around us, gently shaping the nature of the relationships that other people have throughout our day.
My neighbors have four young children between the ages of 8 and 2. Early on, they crafted ten family rules that each of their children know. Watching the 8-year-old recite and respond to a couple of these when conversing with her father last month inspired me to design some family guidelines with my own children. Ours are rooted in our family values. The core guidelines are respect, honesty, helpfulness, inclusion, self-care, responsibility, manners and fun! My nine-year-old wrote them out on a piece of colored paper and my six-year-old drew pictures around the edges. We framed them and hung them in our kitchen, so that we are reminded of them all the time.
This process can be used by any team to decide how you will treat each other when you work together. The guideline drafting process promotes team cohesion, and the guidelines themselves support the team.