Sienna came running out the backdoor with a paper in her hand: “Mommy, you need to read this and sign it!” I had been sitting in the backyard watching the sunset and initially thought it was her daily binder reminder that required my signature. Instead, she handed me a contract she’d just drafted for our family.
The “Family Constitution” included the following rules:
No hitting. No pushing. No snatching. No saying someone is mean. No name calling. No rudeness. Always share. Be kind. Say please and thank you.
Dennis had already signed the constitution, and I later teased him that he must be Hamilton, which is appropriate as the head of our family.
“Sienna, this is great! I’m happy to sign.” I told her. “Did you do a class constitution in school today?”
“Yep!” she replied as she went to collect Mateo’s “signature” and add her own, before posting it on the refrigerator.
This morning, she added our return address stamp to make it “official” and declared that she was the President of the family. Teo proudly announced that Sienna had installed him as the police officer. I thought it was a brilliant move to give him responsibility for policing these rules as he’s one of the biggest offenders. Specifically of calling his mommy “mean” when she doesn’t let him do what he wants to do!
“Who decides on the punishment?” Teo asked.
“Well, you’re the police so you’ll arrest someone and then they’ll go in front of the judge,” I replied.
“Who’s the judge?”
“I am!” Sienna declared.
“You’re the President and the judge? Sounds like a concentration of power to me!”
When we returned home from work and school this evening, Teo and I had a conversation about these family rules. He was feeling tired and overwhelmed and wanted to toss out the constitution because it was too challenging.
“Teo, you don’t have to keep these rules perfectly. No one expects you to do that,” I calmly explained.
“But, I do!” he responded.
I went on to explain that these family rules are in the spirit of God’s law for us. We can never keep God’s perfect law. We’re sinners and will always fall short of God’s standard of perfection. Jesus lived without sin and paid the price for our sins with his death and resurrection. We’re washed in his righteousness through Baptism. Therefore, we’re forgiven each time we fall short. Similarly, in our family, we’ll break these rules, say we’re sorry, ask for forgiveness, and be forgiven.
Wow, that’s reassuring news whether you’re a kid, parent, President, police officer, or judge.