House Rules: Family Wisdom

UrbanWalls on Etsy

I think every family has a few fundmental “rules” that aim to keep the peace. Growing up, I remember them as simple wisdoms that my parents always said on repeat. And, they are stuck with me.

You don’t have to have the last word.

Don’t state the obvious.

Clean your plate off the dinner table.

Crying only gives you a headache.

Whenever we went to someone else’s house for dinner, my sister, brother, and I would clean up the dishes. I do not know why, but we all knew it was the polite thing to do. If we were having an argument, my Dad would always tell us not to state the obvious, and it is not important to have the last word. To this day, these are words of wisdom that I remember whenever I am handling conflict. If I was upset about something, that was ultimately not that big of a deal, my Mom reminded me that it wasn’t worth crying over. Of course, there were times when crying was necessary, but mostly, she was right. It only gave me a headache. These, in a way, were our “House Rules.”

I talk frequently about the book “Bringing up the Bebe” by Pamela Druckerman. I admit, I wish that I was a French parent. In the book, she talks about how French parents insist that their children say “Bonjour” and “Avoir.” In America, children get away with not having to say “Hello” and “Goodbye” because they are considered half a person. We excuse manners because they are children. But, in France, they believe that saying “Bonjour” and “Avoir” is a matter of civility. You are letting the person know that you see them; that you recognize their presence, and ultimately, that they matter. Pamela adopted this French rule, and her daughter knows that she must say “Bonjour” and “Avoir” even if she is shy. This is a “House Rule” that I believe in. It is not just about manners, it is about seeing people, and letting them know that they deserve to be recognized.

Do you have any words of wisdom, or rules that you remember from your childhood? Do you have a few that you think are important to teach your own children?

Also: Check out my friend Grace, who is blogging about her “House Rules” this week as well 🙂



  1. so good! and so true. i make emmy say hello and goodbye when someone addresses her in the store. however, i do not make her speak to strangers who are clearly being nosey and making us uncomfortable, because it’s important we teach our children the ability to run/be cautious around strangers who will talk to them and not “stay to talk” to be polite. it’s a hard balance.

    • I think for us, it’s more important to me that she says hello & goodbye when people enter our home, or we enter theirs. Public places, if it’s someone we know (like at church). Definitely when someone addresses her, but obviously “strangers” we have to define the limits. I like that you are teaching Emmy young. So great!

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