My Family Covenant — No irreconcilable differences

Does promising to respect, obey and ask foster order and peace in the family?

The headlines read “Angelina Jolie files for divorce for the good of the family.” I am curious what the “for-the-good-of-the-family” means in a divorce situation, when the reason for divorce is irreconcilable differences (I appreciate that there are many horrible reasons that divorce is for the good of the family). I can’t really pretend that the Pitt/Jolie family is anything like mine because “for the good of the family”, we stay together and work it out. When we created our family unit, we agreed that there was no such thing as irreconcilable differences.

I understand there are some very bad people in the world who cause harm to spouses and children. Thankfully, that is not my family. There have been days when I daydream what it would be like to be a single mother. I know it is way more glamorous in my dreams than anyone’s reality (I respect everyone that has the courage to create a loving family on their own). And, unapologetically, that is not my family.

My family includes my husband, my three children and lovingly extends much further to include grandparents, siblings, a stepson, girlfriends, boyfriends, and on in ever widening circles. My family is our rock. It is the rock that we have built values on. There are no irreconcilable differences because that rock is solid and is the base that allows each of us to reach for the stars.

We have a bulletin board in our kitchen. On it there is a bristol board that states “Steinhausen Family Law.” It is low enough that when the kids were small, they could read it. Did they? If the pile of clothes on the floor is the gage, the answer would be no. If the way they are in the world is the gage, perhaps it entered their mind through osmosis and repetition. It has been there for a very long time.

I got these laws out of a book many years ago, which is probably long gone. It was my attempt to put into practice some of the experts thoughts to help prevent irreconcilable differences. It is through these laws that we have our promises to each other and, the world:

The Steinhausen Family Law

Obedience: Mind your parents. You may ask why and they will try to tell you, but then you must do it.
Respect: Be polite, particularly to your parents. Respect other people’s rights, views and property. Respect the environment.
Asking: Don’t go somewhere or do something outside of the normal schedule without asking and getting permission.
Peace: Don’t fight…with hands or with words, with hitting or with arguing. Don’t lose your temper or yell.
Order: Take care of your things. Put away your clothes. Don’t leave messes for others to clean up. Do things in the right order. Make your bed and brush your teeth before you leave for school. Do your homework before you watch TV. Get in bed by bedtime.

Although I don’t have their undivided attention anymore, and they don’t often make their beds, perhaps, a grounding in these laws will mean that “for the good of the family” will mean staying as a family.

I acknowledge that these laws are not my idea. I appreciate the individual who created them and helped my family become strong. I am sorry I don’t remember where I got them.