Every family has their own set of house rules. These rules can cover a wide range of things:
- What chores you’re expected to do
- How much time you’re expected to spend with your family
- How often you clean your room
- Expectations around homework and school
- Guidelines about telling people where you’re going and who you’re going to be with
It may not seem like it sometimes, but it’s important to remember that parents and guardians set house rules because they want their children to be safe.
Some of the other reasons that parents and guardians may set house rules are to:
- Help you feel safe and secure both in and out of the house
- Help you learn how to get along with others
- Help you develop respect and have regard for other people
- Help you learn a sense of what is and is not acceptable when sharing a space with others
- Help you learn self-discipline
- Create a sense of consistency and defined limits for the household
- Create an environment where both adults and children act in a way that is not hurtful or disrespectful to one another
In short, house rules encourage trust and respect towards all members of the household. An exception to this is if rules are extremely controlling. For example, if you are not allowed to leave the house at all or see your friends. In some cases, this could be considered emotional abuse, and you should consider talking to an adult that you trust about it. The counsellors at Kids Help Phone are ready and waiting to help if you would like some help or ideas for what to do in this situation.
Sometimes you may think that your house rules are too strict or that the other people in your house expect too much from you. You may feel that:
- You are being asked too many question about where you go and what you do
- You are being asked too many questions about who you’re spending time with
- You are being checked up on or spied on
- You need to start lying about what you’re doing because the truth would upset your parent/guardian or get you in trouble
Breaking the rules, getting upset or fighting with your parent or guardian is not usually a good idea and will not make things better – in fact it may make things worse and you could end up with even more rules or bigger consequences.
There are lots of things you can do if you don’t agree with some of your house rules:
- Try and understand that there are going to be rules in your home and that you need to abide by them – ask if you can help determine what the rules are as well as what the consequences for not following them are
- Explain to your parents/guardians that you want them to trust you and that you need the house rules to be realistic – understand that they may have boundaries that you don’t agree with but if both sides compromise it will benefit everyone
- Try and share your feelings with your parents or guardians so that they know what you are thinking and what you expect – remind them that you are going to make mistakes sometimes in the same way that they sometimes make mistakes
- If you think your house rules could be emotional abuse or if you are really struggling, try talking to an adult that you trust about it or call or write to a counsellor at Kids Help Phone
When a house rule gets broken, try and wait until everyone is calm before talking about what happened and why. Try to explain what happened and accept the consequences for breaking the rule. If it’s a rule you don’t agree with, why not try and negotiate a revised rule that is acceptable to everyone?
If you’re having trouble with your house rules and you don’t feel you can talk to your parents/guardians or you don’t feel that they are listening to you, remember you can call Kids Help Phone. Our professional counsellors can help you come up with a plan for dealing with your concerns.
Last checked: March 2010