Yesterday Papa Bear was talking to his dad and his dad said something like, "I saw this post of facebook, do your kids really not have any rules? They get to do whatever they want?" Papa Bear was at work and couldn't really go in depth with an answer. I know our (attempted) parenting style is "radical" to many, so I thought I'd post our family rules here.
First and foremost, we all have the same rules. The boys don't have more or different rules just because they are smaller, less powerful, or less experienced than us.
#1- You own yourself and your body. Meaning- You are responsible for your actions. If you make a mess you clean it, or you ask for help with the understanding that "no" is an acceptable response. If something is bothering you, you have the power to fix it. You have authority over your body.
#1a- Others own themselves and their bodies. Meaning- You don't touch anyone without permission. You especially never harm anyone. You never physically make anyone do something. You don't manipulate people with fear tactics, promises of rewards, or any other coercive means. Those are attempts at control, and remember, you don't own them or control them. They own themselves. You respect others' bodies and choices.
#2- You own your property. Meaning- It is your responsibility to take care of it. You don't have to share it. Your things belong to you alone.
#2a- Others own their property. Meaning- You respect others' property. You don't take it or use it without permission.
#3- Honor your agreements . Meaning- At any time you're welcome to come to an agreement about something, so long as it doesn't break rules 1 and 2. The agreement must be made voluntarily and be mutually beneficial. If you break your end of the deal, the other party is no longer bound by their end of the agreement and may be entitled to grievances.
That's it. Pretty simple.
What happens if someone breaks a rule? Do we punish them? Absolutely not. Respecting other people and their property, and being a truthful person are good things. The boys are naturally motivated to be good. Punishment for mistakes (and we ALL make mistakes) would shift their motivation from "being good" to "not being bad", which leads to things like "not getting caught". Not our goal. Instead we help the boys understand what would have been a better choice. We are patient and understanding. We remind them everyone makes mistakes, and we all try to do better with what we learn.
What about things like eating dinner together, coming home at a certain time, or going to bed at a certain time? We often eat all our meals together, but its not a rule. Sometimes Josh isn't hungry, or would rather be outside playing. I trust he will eat when his body tells him he is hungry. I would rather him eat with me because we enjoy our time together than because I make him (which breaks rule #1 anyway). We made an agreement he would be home by 8pm everyday. So far he's always been home on time. I suggest he goes to bed by 9pm, but I trust his body will tell him when he's tired and needs sleep.
Things have been so much more relaxed and enjoyable since we let go of the idea that we can control the kids. I highly recommend giving it a shot. Let me know if you have any questions. I'm only on my first cup of coffee and my writing may show it. ;)