When I coach families, the topic of how other families do things comes up a lot. Kiddo goes to school and tells mom and dad that Classmate has a new toy and why can’t I have that? Kiddo hears that at a friend’s house they celebrate Half-Birthdays and why don’t we do that? A certain holiday rolls around and kiddo asks, “how come we don’t do that in our family?”
In the case of holidays, the answer seems so easy. “Because our family is [name religion / or nonreligion here]”; “Because our family doesn’t do it that way, we do it this way”.
It’s so obvious.
So why isn’t that the case for other things?
Here are some (counter-culture) family culture things from my own household:
In our family, friends can come here for sleepovers, but we only have one other family where you’re allowed to sleep over.
In our family, everyone helps with dinner cleanup.
In our family, we go to bed early.
In our family, kids learn how to do their own laundry at age 9.
You get the gist.
I am NOT suggesting that you need to adopt these rules. There are no “Right Rules for Families” except the ones that make sense for YOUR family.
There is nothing wrong with creating your own family culture. In fact it’s exactly right.
AND, by the way, you are allowed to have your own back on decisions you make for / about your child and your family culture.
If you know that your child isn’t ready for playdates every week, don’t make them. “In our family, we like quiet times.”
If you know your kid isn’t ready to go to Disneyworld even though “everyone else” is taking their kids, DON’T GO. “In our family, we like to vacation at the beach”.
If you know that your child isn’t ready for soccer, gymnastics, fencing, music lessons, etc. – wait another year or two. “In our family, we wait until kids are ready for activities.”
I think what I’m really saying here is:
Look inward, not outward, to form your family culture.
You know what people in your family need and what they don’t. There is NO magic formula for determining what type of vacation, what type of birthday party, what type of dinnertime, what type of extracurriculars are “right” for kids. It depends on the kid and it depends on the family. End of story.
So, go write your own family culture story with the characters you’ve got. And then reply to this email with what you came up with!