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  • Writer's pictureMegan Sobbing

Rights, Responsibilities, & Privileges: Building Belonging & Character

One of our goals is to set expectation for our family’s culture in both creating a sense of belonging and fighting against a spirit of entitlement. We want our children to have a strong sense of identity grounded in our faith and augmented by our unique family culture. We want them to feel purpose, responsibility, and support as they learn and grow into the people God has made them to be. As we think about these things, we have followed a framework for looking at our life together that falls into three basic categories: rights, responsibilities, and privileges.

Family Rights

Through our identity in Christ, we are assured righteousness before God, eternal life, and the gift of the Holy Spirit by virtue simply of being God’s children. We are members of His family and we know that He is working in us and around us for our good at all times. We believe that we also bestow certain assurances and graces on our children by rights of them belonging to our family.

Family rights are the things that our children can expect because they are a member of our family, regardless of their behavior, no matter what they do. They are guaranteed, our families “inalienable rights”. It is part of what they have because of their dignity as image bearers of God that have been entrusted to us and because of their particular identity in our family. These include:

  • Spiritual and emotional support. This encompasses our unconditional love, our dedication to create an environment where best efforts are given, we can try fail, and try again with the support of a family who unconditionally loves us and is “on our side”. It also includes the spiritual legacy we hope to pass on through instruction in the Christian faith and traditions.

  • Physical and financial support. We want our children to feel security in being provided with safe places of rest and sanctuary. Warm beds, regular meals, clothing, health care, and all the necessities for physical care and existence should never be doubted.

  • Personalized Education is something that we have committed to as a family for each of our children. We believe that as parents, with the assistance of appropriate resources, we will best be able to help determine our child’s educational needs and gifts and develop tailored instruction and opportunities to best support their growth and development. We want to educate our children as a whole person which begins with the development of character. This character formation in central to how we view their education and growth.

  • Family Holidays & Traditions are also a part of the culture that we choose to teach and celebrate together without condition. We see our times of reflection and celebration together as the regular seasons of grace that we can give to each other through thick and thin. And though they may differ some from year to year, they will be a part of our family’s DNA. We choose to be formed by them and the truths and life they engender to us.

Family Responsibilities

We have a choice to look at responsibilities in one of two ways. The first is to see responsibilities as dutiful drudgeries to be completed in order to meet requirements that keep us on the “nice” list and out of trouble. The second is to see responsibilities as loving obedience and service done to the glory of our gracious Father who has given to us extravagantly. Obedience like this can form and strengthen our character to be more like His. Service and faithful fulfillment of responsibilities shows care for others and good stewardship of our possessions. Our acts of ordinary obedience shape our character in ways that can help us shine as a light to our community illuminating the good God we serve through faithfulness. We will never perfectly achieve this second outlook, but we can aim for it, stumble and reset our vision even in the seemingly menial tasks of life. (For excellent perspective on the holiness of the ordinary see the excellent book Every Moment Holy). Family responsibilities are the things that we must do in order for the family to function well. These are the things that are expected, or insisted upon. These things assist us in maintaining healthy relationships and a well ordered home that is ready to serve the needs of our family and others, and as stated before, they help build character. Responsibilities include personal hygiene, household chores, respect for parents, caring for family members, study, stewarding possessions, pet care, etc. Some examples of what we expect as part of our children’s responsibilities in our family include:

  • Respect & Obedience- Obeying God & parents; respecting each other in our words and deeds

  • Taking care of sick, younger, or elderly family- We want to cultivate a practical love and compassion in our children in seeing and meeting the needs of others. This compassion begins at home and with extended family as we see and care for each other’s needs.

  • Protecting/Stewarding family belongings, time, and money. We show gratitude by caring for the things God has given us and stewarding our possessions, time, and money in ways that reflect our values. This includes stewarding our home in such a way that it is easy and comfortable to invite others into our midst. This doesn’t mean we have a spotless house with no messes, or catalogue perfect/Instagram influencer level furniture and décor, but it does mean we try to maintain a relatively well ordered home that is inviting to others.

  • Chores: Children are expected to care for personal hygiene, spaces & belongings as well as participate in maintaining communal space & belongings. Chore responsibilities include:

o Laundry: Sort, wash, dry, fold & put away

o Bedroom: Make bed, pick up room, dust & vacuum

o Bathrooms: Empty trash, clean sinks, counter, bathtub, & toilets

o Kitchen: Help with meals, set table, load & empty dishwasher, sweep floor, wipe

down counters, tables, and cabinets. Clean up messes as they are created.

Family Privileges

Privileges are things which are earned or gifted. They are the things the kids want to do/have but do not necessarily need to do/have. They are things that may be earned, lost, available, unavailable, given, or taken away. They may depend on circumstances, behavior, family finances, etc. Children should not feel entitled to everything they want. There are times when certain privileges are not practical or are burdensome to the family. There are also things that children should take personal responsibility for earning or loosing. This could include toys, TV, computer time, outdoor activities, sports, phone, etc.

  • Weekly and Monthly Outings (park, mall, coffee shop, friend’s house, bookstore/library etc.)

  • Lessons to develop special skills or knowledge (music, science, zoo, sports or art lessons)

  • Opportunities to experience new things (trips, vacations, tours, activities)

  • Shared use of Family Assets (car, bikes, books, toys, computer, TV, phones)

  • Monthly Pocket Money: To be determined as maturity and responsibilities increase and as believed wise by parents to family budget, beginning at age 5.

Commissions (additional earnings) are tasks a child may ask to perform beyond their family responsibilities for which they may be compensated monetarily or with additional privileges. These are at the discretion of the parents and as pertinent to the needs of the household. Each family may have different ideas about what is expected and what is extra.

What are your family's rights, responsibilities, and privileges? How will you shape your family values, expectations, and goals through them?

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