Family Code of Honor
Now, a question for you. How much time would you save if there were a simple set of rules that the entire family would follow without argument? You might think this is crazy, like “They don’t follow the rules now. What makes you think they’re going to happily choose to follow the rules without argument?
Well, it is possible. It’s going to take some work, but it’s absolutely possible. Here’s what it is – first of all, a family that does not have a clearly defined set of rules, which we call a code of honor, will simply make up their own. The rules get made up as they go. The problem with that is that nobody really knows what to do.
I remember when my son was three or four and he had these bubble gum cards. I think they were Star Wars cards – or Pokemon cards, that’s what they were. He had stacks and stacks of them. My wife went onto Craigslist and she found someone selling like a thousand cards. He loved these cards, and what he would do is he would make up games, and he would want me to play with him. The rules of the game were unclear. So what happened was, my son would make up the game as he would go along. He was very creative, but I noticed a very interesting thing that would happen as we were doing this. If I started to win, based on my understanding of his rules, he would change the rules or add a new rule that always kept him on the winning side.
What’s what we do as humans. It’s a natural instinct, and we all do it. When there is a lack of actual defined rules that we’ve all chosen to follow, we will make up our own, based on our own need to win. When there is a lack of a clearly defined set of rules, we will make up our own in such a way that we help ourselves win. By taking the time to establish what’s called a code of honor, and in the course we go through this in a lot of detail because there are some things you want to put in place first, but one of the goals you want to work towards is getting this code in place. Once that’s up, a lot of things can change.
What a code of honor is, it’s a set of rules that the entire family plays a part in formulating. Everyone. The code is a set of rules, in a predetermined way, of treating one another, and relating with one another.
Example Code of Honor
Treat all family members with dignity and respect.
No family member gets left behind.
Communicate in calm voices, without yelling and screaming.
No unresolved conflicts.
Be on time.
You can see some of the things that might be on a code of honor above. But we’ll talk about them in more detail. This example comes from my own family’s code.
Treat all family members with dignity and respect. Sometimes we need reminding of this. We’re human and we deal with things, but this is something that in a calm moment, we all decided was important.
No family member gets left behind. If they’re struggling, if something is going on, we rally around that family member and we help them out. Nobody. Gets. Left. Behind. We all move forward together.
The next one is to communicate to calm voices, without yelling and screaming. We put this one, I’ve known others who have put this one in as well. If raised voices and yelling are part of the communication, then this is a good one to put in, because it allows you a tool to call it when it happens. “Okay, we all agreed that we were going to communicate with calm voices. So are we doing that right now? Or are we yelling and screaming?”
And again, this is not a set of rules that you came up with and are forcing on your family. That will never work. They’re going to rebel against it. Rather, it is a set of rules that the entire family came up with through a series of conversations. These are the ones that ended up on the list. Everyone had a say, everyone had input on the rules, about what went on there and what didn’t. That’s why it works.
No unresolved conflicts. We don’t want to go through life with all these unresolved conflicts. If you’ve ever been part of a conversation where the other person reminds you of something that happened six months ago or a year ago, and it’s like they’ve been holding on to the energy of that conflict for that long? At just the right moment, they bring it up and use it against you. That’s what I’m talking about when I say no unresolved conflicts. When they are resolved, they are done. They are forgotten. They are forgiven. They are never again to be mentioned. Then, voila, there are no unresolved conflicts. When somebody still has energy for that, we’re going to keep talking it through until it is resolved.
Another one is to be on time. As a family, we were starting to be two or three minutes late for everything. To soccer practice, to family events, school. We were going through some issues with getting ready for school. I’ll share a story with you about that in a bit that will shed some light on that. We were always a few minutes late and it was becoming a chronic thing. So we had to decide, “We’re going to be on time, no matter what it takes so let’s think about how we’re going to do that.
How to Make a Code of Honor Work
As for how to make a code of honor work where the whole family happily follows along, you have to hold regular family meetings where everyone gets a chance to be heard without judgment. This helps to keep the communication going. You don’t want to just be strangers passing each other in the hallway, having fragmented conversation, because that’s where communication starts to break down. You want to make sure that you’re communicating regularly but most importantly, doing so in such a way where everyone feels like they are being heard, and that the other members of the family care what they have to say and they are not judging them. Whatever is being said is true for them in that moment.
Another way to make a code of honor work for you is to decide as a group, keyword here, group. Decide as a group what your family stands for and how each will conduct themselves with one another.
The third way to make a code of honor work, is that when the code is broken, you want to call it quickly. Don’t let it go on for a while, don’t let it collect, don’t let it build up. Call it quickly so that the team and the code maintains their integrity. When you do this and everyone makes a conscious effort to have this be part of their lives, it doesn’t have to be a complicated thing. It might only be a half a dozen items, but everyone chooses into those and think about it, there’s a lot of teams, groups, organizations, that have codes of honor. The military has a code of honor. They have a code of conduct where they have chosen to treat one another in a certain way. Nobody gets left behind.
What if your family had that same code? What if everyone in your family chose into that where they were passionately behind this code of honor and in keeping the integrity of that code intact? You can do this with teenagers, you can do this with small children. You just change the language a bit to suit the audience. You want to keep it simple and easy to follow. It takes a little work to get there, which is why there is an entire section in this in the Blissful Parenting program.
A code of honor for your family establishes a predetermined behavior that is used to solve all conflicts and difficult situations. It’s something that you can lean on when the behavior gets off track. However, sometimes all it takes is one tiny shift in your environment to make a huge positive impact on the behavior.