We try to keep the rules pretty simple around here. Kindness. Honor. Respect. If only things could stay that simple. In reality, things can get pretty messy. Relationships are difficult. We need to give each other the grace to grow through them, to make mistakes, and to learn to be healthy.
A concept like respect or honor can be very abstract. I believe it must be modeled and taught, but sometimes we lack finding healthy people to learn it from.
We have posted on our refrigerator some basics of how respect manifests itself. (This is taken from Peter Scazzero.) Respect is giving both myself and others the right to:
space and privacy
to be different
to be heard
to be taken seriously
to be given the benefit of the doubt
to be told the truth
to be consulted
to be imperfect and make mistakes
to courteous and honorable treatment
The book goes into more detail to help explain it further, but even just this list is very helpful to me. Not only does it model for me how I want to treat other people, but it also speaks to what relationships are healthy and safe. That is how we are training up our children — to have a home that is nurturing and safe.
We’ve used this list to sort through sibling difficulties. Often when someone is mistreated or disrespected, it is difficult to work through the concern to a place of health. Having these guidelines helps us pinpoint where the boundaries were crossed, and how the relationship can be repaired.
We decided to have some fun with these lessons on boundaries with our kids. We love to watch football together, so now we have terms that help them understand some relational dynamics.
One sibling offends or upsets the other, and within moments, there is a growing dispute. We take it as a teaching moment and intervene. First there’s a penalty…
We explain the offense, or boundary failure, in terms of personal foul or encroachment.
It lightens the mood as we compare our emotions and relationships to the football field. They understand encroachment is when you’ve gotten into someone else’s space. You’ve gone too far. You’ve crossed the line. Boundary failure. 5 yard penalty means give them some space. And as we work through it together, there can be amends and repair.
Our kids are learning to see their own responsibility in having healthy emotions and how to navigate in relationships. These are lessons that are lived out in our daily interactions. And it is for more than just kids to learn. Adults need to continually be reminded of health and safety too.