Someone asked what our family rules are and I responded that we had very few and those that we do have we keep simple. This person seems to think that we have children who are very well behaved and they wanted to know how we get all eight of them to do that when they can not get two to cooperate.
Our rules are intended to keep everyone safe and to keep our ship sailing on calm seas as I often say.
When Mom and Dad say no they really mean it. There is no such thing as no, well maybe no, or well if I cry and pout enough I will get my way. Believe it or not parents need to say no a lot. This does not mean that our kids do not get to do anything they want to, they do, it is that each of them is an individual and that is taken into account when deciding what they can decide for themselves and when. Some of our kids will never be able to make choices on their own. They just do not have the ability to do that.
Everyone in our family has chores. They are assigned based on ability. Karre cleans all of the bathrooms, Allen takes out the garbage and recycling, Hanna washes dishes, Lauren takes clothes off the line and puts folded clothes away, and Paul keeps the shoe clutter under control.There is NO getting out of your chores they have to be done. When everyone does their chores then Mom handles the rest of the housework and Dad and the other kids are assigned things to do when they are here as well. It is as simple as this, we work hard together and then we play equally as hard.
Mom and Dad or some other responsible person needs to know the whereabouts of everyone at all times. This applies to both the neuro-typical members of the family and those with special needs. This is not complicated with cell phones and Internet available everywhere. This is for safety purposes. This just makes the Mom and Dad relax a bit. That is hard to do with all of these young people on the loose.
The consequences for behavior are those which naturally occur. We do not do any behavior mod, it just does not work especially with a kid who has attachment issues.and it makes me crazy as well. If you miss the bus you will be paying for the ride to school, if you choose not to come to the dinner table and act in an appropriate manner then you do not eat ( I have never had a kid starve to death even though some of them think they will), if you lose your jacket you will buy a new one, and if you destroy something that belongs to someone else you will replace it.
Everyone needs personal space and that needs to be respected. This is difficult especially for our kids who have FASD. They do not understand boundaries, have trouble figuring out what behavior is acceptable, and are very impulsive. Some kids have this thing for bugging others and it gets annoying, but they can spend time in their room or doing some very physical activity if need be.
That is about it, these are the tools that we use to keep our family running smoothly,no means no, work and play together, know where everyone is, natural consequences, and respect the personal space of everyone else. This sounds simple, yet some days it is very difficult especially when people choose not to cooperate, but most of the time it works for us and that is all that matters.