Don’t Break The Rules Unless You Should

As a mom, I spend a great deal of time asking my children to follow rules.  I ask my kids to follow my rules  (don’t stand on the couch, pick up your toys, don’t use mean words), as well as the general rules of civilization (don’t shout, don’t talk with your mouth full, no hitting, no biting, no pushing, etc.). 

I teach my kids that following rules is important and that there are consequences to breaking rules.  If one of my daughters is giving me a hard time about doing something, I can usually get them to do (or not do) something by simply stating, “but that’s the rule.”  For example, when my 4 year old begs and pleads to wear flip flops or sandals to school, the drama subsides rather quickly when I explain that the school rule is “no open-toed shoes.”  This obviously doesn’t work as well with my 2 year old but we are well on our way to having another little girl who understands the importance of following rules.

On the other hand, I do feel that everything is situational and some rules are okay to break under certain circumstances and I do (on occasion) break rules.  For instance, I am guilty of running a red light here and there and when I am extremely late or have to pee really bad, I think the rule-breaking is justified.   As far as safety goes, you better believe that those rules (such as buckling your seatbelt or wearing your bike helmet) are mandatory, but rules that don’t involve a safety issue should be flexible. 

What?! Is there some rule against this?
What?! Is there some rule against this?

So there you have it, I believe that it is okay to bend the rules and even break them sometimes (like when I have all three kids and need to run into Target quickly to pick up diapers) but SHHH, don’t tell my little ones just yet as I am sure they will figure it out soon enough.  My oldest daughter has already started justifying her borderline behavior and advocating for why some of our house rules should be changed.

Are there any other rule-breaking moms out there?  Is anyone else teaching your kids that following rules is important but breaking the rules yourself as you see fit? Or do you feel that rules are rules and should always be followed?

4 thoughts on “Don’t Break The Rules Unless You Should

  1. My concern about the have-to-pee exception is what if I get pulled over by a cop? That will cause further delay and possible moist embarrassment. I know the location of every McDonald’s in the state for traveling pee purposes, and since at my age, I get about a 10 second warning (not unlike a 3 year old!), that knowledge comes in handy.
    As for rules, it is an art to be able to explain to your kids why some rules can be broken and how to know when that is. It also teaches them self-forgiveness if they make a mistake. I am much harder on myself than any parent ever was, and have to remind myself every day that rules are made to be broken and mistakes are ok.
    It can even be fun to break the rules, if you all conspire together. My family has something we call “Chicago Rules,” which we developed on a trip to, of course, Chicago. Usually I pack tons of snacks and beverages to save money and not be a victim of rest stop prices, but on that trip, half the fun was throwing that rule away and indulging in overpriced snacks whenever we felt like it! Considering that trip was 15 years ago and we all still talk about it with glee, it was really a great experiment in how much fun it can be to break the rules together, and a REAL treat for me to allow myself not to fret about prices all the time. It probably ended up costing an extra $50, all told, and it was well worth it.
    Great post, Patty. It gave me much to think about.


    1. Thanks Randi! I think the key with this, as with anything, is to instill good values in our children so that they are equipped to use sound judgment and make good decisions. It’s sort of like knowing when a little white lie is ok to prevent someone’s feelings from being hurt. Teach them to be smart and they will know never to intentionally run a red light at a busy intersection when they get their driver’s license. Teach them to be kind and they will know that it is ok to stay up past their bedtime to chat on the phone with a friend who is feeling down. Rules are good because they help keep order but I agree, sometimes it is so much fun to just forget about the rules a live freely.


  2. Wait until your kids are driving, you will not want anyone running any red lights around your young drivers. I have three sons who’ve been driving for a couple of years now and am shocked at how bad CT drivers are and how middle aged drivers are the worst! They tailgate, text, run lights (doesn’t get more dangerous than that!), speed. Very scary when you have children on the road with these people. Your children will watch (and imitate) what you do more than they will listen to what you say……


    1. I appreciate your response Jayne and just want to assure you that I do not endorse running red lights or violating traffic safety laws and I too am concerned with the amount of distracted drivers on the road.


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