The reason behind the “at this house” statement.
When someone enters your home, they enter an “at my house” zone. Bringing other children into your home can be frustrating because it upsets the fruit basket. Visitors or guests can upset your standard with your kids in your home. You have rules that some of your guests don’t have at their house: “no dessert until food is finished” or “clothes go in the laundry and not on the floor” or “beds are made before you leave the room.”
When you’re the one footing the grocery bill and doing the laundry, you have every right to continue living responsibly in your house even if you have guests or visitors. There’s no need to point out what you think other parents are doing wrong or how you’d do it differently if you were the parent (because we all know we’ve had those thoughts and I’m pretty sure those same parents have had those thoughts about us!). There are three words that take care of this issue easily.
At this house.
You might not do it this way at your house, and that’s okay. But at this house, we do it this way. You don’t have to tell a child, “Well, your mom should not let you get away with that;” or “I can’t believe your dad doesn’t make you . . . ” All you need to say is, “At this house, this is the way we do it.”
I know this works. I also know it can be done without disrespecting another child’s raising. This is a statement I continue to use when we have children visiting in our home. I’ve never, ever had a child argue with me about this premise. Yep, I’ve had other adults roll their eyes. But the kids? They willingly comply.
Where I’ve used “At this house”
If a child visiting your home spouts profanity, you don’t need to scold him for using those words when you know he hears them at home all the time. When you say, “At this house, we don’t use words like that,” you’re telling him it’s not allowed in this house even though he uses them at his house. If he asks, you can explain why.
A child won’t finish his plate of food because he’s “too full” but has room for dessert; your kids watch you give in because his parents are there. What then? Your kids know they still have to finish their plate of food because that’s the rule.
Make a statement at the beginning of the meal, “At this house, we finish all the food on our plate before we have dessert.” The announcement is made and no one can argue with you. You have paid for the groceries, and it’s your place. Your house,your rules. You’re not saying other parents are doing it wrong. It’s really not your business what happens at another child’s house (unless, of course, they are in danger). You’re just saying this is how it’s done under your roof.
One of the first things I’ve taught foster kids who enter our home is that, at this house, the dirty laundry goes into the hamper and not on the floor. Oh, I know it’s how it was done in their home, but at this house, we do it this way. There’s no discussion as to why there weren’t hampers to put dirty laundry in, why that mom didn’t teach her kids to pick up their clothes, or why we don’t want to walk over dirty clothing. It’s just the way we do it here.
Learning to follow rules
In some countries, folks don’t wear shoes inside their homes. While we might wear shoes inside our homes, you can bet your bottom dollar that if you visited one of those homes where shoes are left at the door, you’d follow suit. That’s because it’s their country, their house, their culture, and their rules. We wouldn’t argue and say, “Oh, but I’m not used to doing that!” or “But my mom doesn’t make me take my shoes off at my house!” Oh no, we’d follow those rules because when you’re in Rome, you do as the Romans do (unless the Romans ask you to violate scripture).
There doesn’t need to be embarrassment or confusion; there doesn’t need to be arguing. We should be able to expect folks to follow our rules if we are not asking them to violate their conscience or scripture. The problem is that many parents don’t want other adults to “parent” their child or “discipline” them or dish out consequences. The sooner our kids learn to follow rules of other adults (not in violation with scripture, of course) the better. It prepares them for life.
There are many rules not made by parents that one must follow: seat belts, solid lines on a road; red lights; taxes; punctuality at work or at school; umpires calls; failing grade for not completing assignments. Kids need to learn to follow rules and restrictions that are for the good of the group and for the good of the child – and that includes grandparents, uncles and aunts, and teachers, to name a few.
Next time you’re dealing with a dilemma of another child visiting your home, pull out these three words. I think you’ll be amazed at the difference it makes.