Writing expectations

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by klmno, Mar 2, 2010.

  1. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    I thought it might help difficult child to have some things better defined, so I started typing up a list of chores to be done on a regular basis, house rules/general expectations/regular privileges, and what I'll have zero tolerance with. I had meant for this to be a starting point for discussion, although some things in it are not negotiable. But then I wonder if it would instigate problems or help him. He always did horribly with behavior contracts and written rules/cosequences because they seemed to always reinforce negativity and "failure" or disappointment , but he did pretty well when they were written as reward chart/expectations- and that applied whether at school or at home.

    What do you all think? Should I mail it to him, ask him if he'd like for me to send him a written list like he sent me his propsed schedule, or drop it altogether? (It's 2 pages long.)
  2. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member

    my gut reaction is 2 pages is too long. I think you are overthinking his homecoming a bit. I think if you fill him with rules and regulations he may feel too confined. I know you have to have rules, but your anxiety over him messing up is going to be felt by him and affect your relationship.

    I would suggest perhaps asking him about it. Make him a partner. "Listen difficult child, I want you and I to give some thought to what you will doing around the house when you come home. Do you think you could make a list of a few things you could do to help out?
  3. aeroeng

    aeroeng Mom of Three

    Yes for the list to be effective is would need his by in which means he must be a part of creating the final version. It should be simple and limited in size, and it should also specifically include positive out comes.
  4. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    2 pages of rules and expectations is too long for anything for a kid. Short and sweet is best. You dont have to list every little thing. Give one broad heading that covers it.
  5. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Well- can you help me out by giving me pointers? Right now I have four catagories- 1) Regular chores, 2) House rules/general expectations, 3) Zero tolerance, 4) parole expectations. It's #2 that is long but maybe I have too many types of things listed in that- it covers a lot of different stuff from doing homework, general privileges, stuff he's expected to do and not get an allowance for, etc.

    Now, the objective was to let him know what sorts of things would lead to a 911 call (the four things listed in #3), and what would lead to a call to the PO. The regular chores and allowance (I make him earn his allowance) can be discussed and I wrote in there that we would discuss the amount he would earn for these things and what he would be expected to pay for himself. These three topics are about one page long, but they are spread out and reasonable, I think.

    The long topic lists a lot of detailed stuff because I wanted difficult child to understand the types of things that he can get consequences for but will not lead to me calling 911 or PO, unless he repetitively goes against them. I guess I could generalize some of it and just let difficult child know that I'm not going to play the game "it wasn't specifically listed so it doesn't count". And maybe I could break out the things that are more privileges or things we've discussed that have nothing to do with rules- like trying to have a fun family night once a week. That wouldn't be something I'd punish him for if he was too busy because of the mentor coming or something. I wrote below that catagory that we could discuss consequences for breaking these rules and that we would review them in about 3 months (at the end of this school year), and again at the beginning of next school year.

    Just thinking out loud, maybe if I split that catagory in two- one for rules/expectations, and one for privileges/family stuff, I wouldn't need to give him all these at once. I guess I wanted him to see that house "policy" didn't all have to be bad stuff- like him staying off the computer. But this is the part I'm not sure how to go about. Maybe I'll go back and review that older thread about others' lists for their difficult child's and see how they worded things.
  6. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

    My thoughts re your categories:

    1) Chores: bullet points (take out trash, run dishwasher, etc.) I'd keep the list short for now. 'pay to be negotiated' works for now, too.
    2) House rules: I'd think this could be bullet points for now, as well. Curfew times, doing his homework, letting you know where he is, etc., how long a list do you have?
    3) Zero tolerance/911 call… what more do you need to say except, illegal activity and physical violence will not be tolerated, period, and will result in a call to the PO, and to 911 if you feel physically threatened?
    4) a simple 'abide by the terms of your parole' should be simple enough .. and could be included as part of #2.

    I'd resist the urge to over-explain things.
  7. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member


    Do NOT put the consequences on the chart at this time. When and if he breaks a rule, you and he discuss it because like Blondie and Pico said, you dont want him to decide ahead of time if it is "worth it" ahead of time to break a rule. I think this is a very good idea. Let them sweat to see what the consequences are going to be.
  8. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    See now as I read the advice back and forth...I think a lot depends on the difficult child.

    The recent "Behavior Chart" that the doctor asked me to create for my daughter is four pages long. Sounds like way too much...right?

    In our house the problem is, if it is not spelled out EXACTLY--then as far as difficult child is concerned, it's not a rule.

    For example, I had to spell out "You must go to school and you must go to ALL of your classes." Otherwise, she could argue that "Well, I went to school--I just didn't go to Math or History."

    If K's son is that kind of kid--(You said no stealing. I didn't steal anything--I only borrowed the car without asking.)--it might take four pages to spell everything out.

  9. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I'm pretty much with crazy on this. The only thing I would change is the negotiation of the allowance. You know better than anyone what your budetary restraints are. You also know that, at least in the beginning, his need for money will be minimal. He won't be doing any computer gaming, no cell phone, no auto expenses, no girlfriend, limited social interactions, etc., so his need for cash will be minimal. You also have bought him some new clothes and a gift certificate. He should be set for now.

    Keeping the list as short as possible is the important thing. The house rules should include the line crazy wrote about following the rules of probation. You shouldn't have to reiterate what they are - he knows.

  10. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Here's what I was starting with last night:

    Regular Chores:

    • Take out garbage from house to can as needed; take can to street each week
    • Mow grass during summer (every two weeks); get up leaves this spring and in the fall
    • Keep bedroom and game room clean; clean up after self in other rooms
    • Help (not do it all) with general cleaning, including sweeping or mopping floors, every two weeks
    • Do own laundry
    • Cook one meal a week
    • Help with smaller chores as needed or requested- such as loading or unloading dishwasher, carrying in groceries, etc.

    Allowance to be discussed- depending on what I can afford and what you’ll be expected to pay for yourself.*

    * There will be opportunity to earn extra money on occasion by doing things like washing the car, cleaning/washing the porch, etc.

    Other Expectations for No Pay & House Rules:*

    • House Projects (One at a time, while I’m at home, as time and money allow): Clean gutters, help repair damaged walls and replace doors, paint upstairs bathroom, clean yard, clean out and organize storage shed, other to be determined (this is to repay me for restitution, previous defense attorney fees, credit card debt, and damage to house)
    • Keep passing grades at school on each quarterly (9 week) report card
    • Do homework and school projects as required
    • No suspensions from school
    • Be respectful to me and obey rules
    • Propose and discuss ways to manage time regarding doing chores, homework, school projects, time with mentor, and free time
    • Never leave home without permission and me knowing where you are going, what you’ll be doing, and who’ll you’ll be with, and having a time to return home established
    • No computer usage without permission and supervision- the computer is an absolute requirement for the only income coming into this house at this point and needs to be viewed as our only means of keeping a home and buying groceries
    • Take consequences for any violation of house rules without rebellion
    • No staying awake outside of bedroom all night long- no sneaking to play games, use telephone, or watch movies, etc, during the night
    • No smoking cigarettes at any time or place
    • I need to meet any friends you are spending time with outside of school and know where they live or talk to their parents
    • You'll be allowed to date, but no dates with a girl alone or without prior permission
    • No habit of cussing
    • TV is allowed during free time; You will be allowed to watch any movie or TV show not rated R or higher (M or X)
    • XBOX is allowed during free time; No M rated games; T requires approval but no extreme violence or blood/gore as a general rule
    • Socializing with friends will not be allowed every day (we can discuss appropriate boundaries for this after learning school and mentor schedules)
    • Free time should be available most every day, except if lost or extremely busy
    • No phone calls between 9:30 PM and 9:30 AM
    • Friends will be allowed to spend the night on occasion if not a school night, if I know them, and I have spoken with the parent
    • We will discuss having one period of time per week to talk about how this is working, any concerns, etc.; any very important topic can be discussed at any time
    • We will have one night per week (most, if not all, weeks) for family night to do something together that we both enjoy

    Consequences for these things will be discussed but will be along the lines of loss of privileges for a certain period of time, extra work or homework, fine (loss of allowance), etc.; repetitive rule-breaking will result in report to parole officer

    *These things will be discussed and reviewed in approximately 3 months (at the end of the school year), and again 3 months after that (when the next school year has started)

    Zero Tolerance:

    • Aggression or violence to any living being
    • Stealing from me, car, or home
    • Further damage to house, the car, or anything in either
    • Disappearing from home or being 30 minutes or more late returning home

    These things will result in a 911 call to the police.

    Parole Expectations:

    • Any parole violation will be reported to the parole officer
    • Any illegal offense not resulting in a 911 call will be reported to the parole officer (this is per the parole officer- not to call 911, but report it to him- apparently this is how they try to deal with things like truancy or experimenting with drugs, etc., in a way that prevents incarcerating them again if possible))

    (We don't really have access to x-rated stuff on tv and I have parental controls set, but I just want him to know that if he finds a way around this or gets an x-rated movie from a friend, there's going to be a consequence.)

    As a reminder, he recently turned 15 yo and has been incarcerated since 2 weeks after he turned 14yo.
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2010
  11. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    It is a very long and complex list. I think it's the sort of thing that needs to be developed, rather than simply assigned from on high like the tablets God gave to Moses.

    Some of it obviously needs to be assigned form on high - the PO expectations, for a start. Janet's rules look good to me - they cover a great deal.

    All else - I would involve him in setting them up, because the more input he has, the more invested he is likely to be in following through. He's been incarcerated for a while, during which time other people tell you when to shower, when you can go to the toilet, etc. He needs to have some self-determination in this. You could sit and discuss this, but whatever he suggests he will do, write it down. If he asks for suggestions, run your list past him and see what he agrees to. Those are the things HE has then chosen to do.

    He's going to have some adjustments to make in coming home, including how he treats other people. It's not exactly a normal home environment he has been in.

  12. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    He'd asked for me to let him know specific expectations and what it maight take to earn more privileges in the future and so forth. At the time the subject first came up, I didn't even know if we'd still be living here so had no idea about school hours, PO requirements, or anything else. Now we have a better idea, but still don't know specifics- like how many times a week the mentor will have time with difficult child or for how long. But, I thought we had enough info to start on this.

    I wrote difficult child a letter and told him I'd given these these some thought and started lists for them and asked if he wanted me to send the lists or us just discuss it as each subject comes up.

    As far as him developing the rules with me, that's a no-go at this point in time. Punishments, I might consider his input- but I went back and read Janet's ideas and I do like the idea of not having consequences set in stone up front. A lot of things can vary depending on circumstances and if consequences are set in stone and known up front, they tend to become a situation of either being given or not given. If they be changed depending on circumstances and how well he's doing in general, it helps.

    The chore list shouldn't be an issue- he's usually been pretty good about it and we are both flexible with it- you know, yardwork done a different day if a school project is due or whatever.
  13. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Thats one thing I learned far too late from our beloved Pico. I shouldnt have allowed Cory to calculate the cost of what his misdeeds were going to cost him because if he is already doing that, it is far too late.

    Sure we adults do it all the time. Speed limit is 55 mph. Do we want to risk going 65 and get the ticket? Ok...maybe we do. Is it worth it to kite a check and risk the NSF charge at the bank and the place of business? All depends.
  14. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    I have to agree with Janet, that it might be better not to state the consequences, and I'm basing that solely on the trip Miss KT and took to Northern CA to tour that college. I drive fast...always have. A speed limit is simply a suggestion. Even though my most recent speeding ticket (from that trip) cost me $350, I haven't slowed down any. The law of averages was on my side. The consequences of any given act may not be seen as a deterrent to difficult child.
  15. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not


    As I read your proposed chart here...(and I was not against a long chart)...I feel like your chart has a few problems.

    I think it is vague where it needs to be clear....and overly specific where it should be more generalized.

    For starters--you have serious rules (like drinking smoking and getting suspended from school) mixed in among lesser evils such as playing "T" rated video games without permission. I think you need to prioritze with your "Deal Breakers" at the top of the list.


    House Rules:


    Then if you need to specify a few responsibilites, make it the next section. As in:


    Maintain passing grades
    Cutting grass
    Taking out garbage

    Misc chores as needed, requested.

    Know what I mean?? And I agree with the others about keeping rewards vague and OFF this list. That way you can say--Wow! it's been a heck of a week....go ahead to a friends house for the night. Or you can say--Sorry. the yard needs mowing/raking/weeding/trimming. You'll have to get that done over the weekend instead of having free time. Don't box yourself in ahead of time.

    And you're really not prepared to go twenty rounds over a video-game rating, are you? Or a phone call that lasts until 9:35 instead of 9:30? I think you should drop the little stuff and simply note that you, as the Mom, are to be respected. That means (among other things) that you will not be subjected to offensive material in your own home....including porn, violent or graphic video games, violent/graphic movies and cussing/vulgar language. And when you say--Please get off the phone. It's time to get off the phone.

    Simplify. It will be fine.

  16. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I totally agree with DaisyFace - I think being too specific makes the list so much longer, makes it look almost unattainable (speaking as the mother of a 14 year old boy) and pigeon holes you into specifics as well. Consequences set upon level of infraction sould suffice.

    I think both of you are overthinking this.

  17. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Ok, I see that point. I'll talk to difficult child about it at the next visitation to see how he wants to handle this- as far as what to have a written list for and what to just discuss. (In terms of listing chores that he needs to do to earn money, and things like that.) The categories were chosen that way originally in order to stay somewhat consitent with the way Department of Juvenile Justice handles things, although they have completely different terms for life at home. But they were categorized so he could easily tell ways to earn money, what's expected of him that has nothing to do with allowance but that could cause a loss of privilege, what would result in a bigger problem, and what was going to be another "street charge". I can see not getting speicific about consequences for things like coming home 15 mins late or smarting off to me, but I do think it's only fair to let him know what league a "violation" is in- Department of Juvenile Justice does that as well.

    Anyway, changing subjects a bit- he's had a cold or allergies or combination. I found that interesting as that always happens this time of year and starts right before spring and hayfever season. They were trying to figure out the best OTC drugs to give him- thankfully they didn't move into steroids of any type but it wouldn't have hurt to get rx'd medications. I bring that up because I had noticed a very coincidental (or not) seasonal pattern, it even got so obvious that his psychiatrist said something about it a few times in the past.

    And, difficult child called a little while ago to tell me the worst was over- he had to go before the final review board to get his release officially approved today. He had to read them his pages of stuff he'd had to write about his charges, his mistakes, and his plans to make sure they don't get repeated. And he had to answer their questions about it all. Apparently, he had an anxiety attack based on his description about what happened to him physically- nothing like peeing on himself, but still, clear anxiety related physical symptoms. Profs have never given anxiety serious weight for difficult child because he won't tell them details he tells me, but honestly, when it's come down thru at least two generations before him and I see and hear the same things from him, it's a little hard for me not to think a lot of his behavior in the past has been indirectly due to anxiety. If he'd get past being ashamed of the anxiety, maybe we could actually get somewhere in getting him help for it.