Your Family Constitution

What will YOUR kids stand for?

What’s the old saying?

“If you don’t STAND for SOMEthing, you’ll fall for anything!”

When my kids were little, I was losing ground. My utopian dream of bringing loving, creative people into the world was turning into a nightmare.  Just being a ‘good example’ wasn’t working. The ‘nicer’ I became, the more they took advantage and were becoming people I disliked: Greedy, selfish, mean, petty and squabbling. I had to put my foot down. 

Time For A Family Meeting

“All right, guys. There’s been too much fighting going on. We need to work things out. FAMILY MEETING TIME!”

We usually had a Family Meeting once a week, but when something extreme came up, we would have them at any time. We sat in a circle in the living room and I reminded them of the rules of the meeting: 

1- Sit quietly,

2- Listen carefully,

3- If you have something to say, raise your hand and wait your turn.

Make A Family Constitution

I challenged the kids to think:

“Who ARE we, anyway? What do we STAND for? What VALUES do we hold dear? We need to decide what kind of people we want to be. We need to create a ‘Family Constitution’.”

Taking notes, each child contributed what they thought were important rules for good behavior – points to add to our Family’s ‘Constitution’. Soon we had a list of ‘DO’s and DON’TS’ we all agreed on, and taped the list to the kitchen wall.

Things like:

DO: Be kind, helpful, do chores, feed the animals, do homework, etc…

DON’T: Fight, stick out your tongue, cuss, hit, yell or throw things, etc.”

Whenever anyone did something wrong (or right), we would add that infraction or good character trait to the list, and soon we needed to add more pages and the list was as long as my arm!

At our next meeting We looked at our list again. 

Then it came to us. All the items on the list boiled down to one rule that applied: That if we could treat one another the way we wanted to be treated, it would solve most of our problems.

The Golden Rule, by Ruth Elliott, 1987

THAT said it ALL!

“Treat others the way YOU want to be treated” became our new “Family Constitution”. When a conflict came up, the way to resolve it became simpler. 

The good thing about going through the exercise of listing all the do’s and don’ts was that it forced us to examine ourselves, to put ourselves in the other person’s shoes, and observe how our actions and attitudes affect others. It increased our empathy for one another, and showed us that everything we do is creating the kind of person we are becoming.

John Jolliffe once said:



What kind of person do YOU love?

Are you becoming that person?

Love and Warm Wishes,

Ruth Elliott-Hilsdon 
Founder & Director: EDU DESIGNS, a public-benefit nonprofit charity.
Creator: GoMommyGO®, the Registered Trademark of EDU DESIGNS