Our Family Code

I’ve been wanting to come up with a list of household rules for some time, but the word “rules” has always turned me off a bit. Rules are important, don’t get me wrong. But what I wanted for our family was more than a list of do’s and don’ts. I really wanted a list of principles that would infuse our home with peace and instill habits of service and courtesy. I also wanted it to be positive, so that when things go awry, my “gentle reminders” could be framed in a loving, uplifting light. 

So today I wrote down our Family Code. I included things that address some common issues we have around here (such as not acknowledging when someone is talking to you, or expressing displeasure in an ultra-dramatic fashion). I also included things that I hope will be internalized as lifelong habits of behavior and interaction with others.

I’m considering having our whole family memorize the code, snooty-boarding-school-style. Otherwise I worry it’ll just hang on the wall and we won’t actually keep each other accountable. At the very least, I plan to review it regularly as a family. 

Here ’tis:


In our family, we . . .
SHOW LOVE with our words and our deeds.
SPEAK using kind words and gentle voices.
EXPRESS our feelings with respect and moderation.
LISTEN and let others know we hear them.
SERVE others before ourselves.
HELP keep our home orderly and clean.
WELCOME everyone with courtesy and warmth.
LOOK for ways to serve and bring joy to others.
SHARE our ideas, creations, discoveries, and delights.

I’d love to hear if you have a list of rules, expectations, principles, etc., or something similar in your family. I always like discovering things I’ve overlooked when people share their ideas and experiences. I’m sure I’m not the only one. 

🙂 Annie

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Annie writes about life, motherhood, world issues, beautiful places, and anything else that tickles her brain. On good days, she enjoys juggling life with her husband and homeschooling her children. On bad days, she binges on chocolate chips and dreams of traveling the world alone.

Comments 7

  1. I love your list and am going to print it off for a class :). I have been looking to expand our rules , now that my three guys are getting older while they were all under 6 these four rules were easy to remember and I could relate anything to them ( sometimes creatively )
    gentle hands
    friendly words

    Thanks Sara

  2. Great list! One that I have used for a long time is the three R’s: Respect Yourself, Respect Your Friends/Family, Respect Your Things. But I would love to incorporate some values from your code and I think using an acronym is a great idea! The “not acknowledging someone when they are talking” happens too often at our house, too.

  3. Awesome, Suzanne! That’s great to hear. And how funny that you both mentioned the acronyms – The Muse looked at the list and was wondering if we could make an acronym out of the first letters. Maybe I’ll rewrite it to spell out our name or some inspirational word. Thanks, guys! Keep the ideas coming.

  4. While I’m not a mom, as a teacher I had a set of “HERO” values that my class was expected to live by:

    H: Honesty – tell the truth and play fair
    E: Effort – try your best
    R: Respect – treat others as you would like to be treated
    O: Orderliness – keep things neat and follow directions

    This pretty much covered every situation that could possibly come up in a classroom. Having the HERO “values”, instead of rules, helped us all to avoid legalism.

  5. My parents never had a set of rules, but I grew up with about 6 Momisms – statements that my mother would say every single day and/or every chance she got. Things like “you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar young lady” and “What goes around comes around”. When I was a kid, I just thought they were momisms and kind of dorky, but now that I’m an adult and I not only realize that she was absolutely right, but also that I did take them to heart and do live by them just about every day, I’m thankful for them. Your kids will thank you for them.

    On another note, I also have friends who have come up with an acronym for their last name that lists their family values. Then when the kids do something well, they say “Wow, that’s being a Marsh” or “Way to show Marsh pride”. Pretty cool.

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