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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Parents: Your Family Constitution (with giveaway)

When I was a new mom, a friend who had teenagers told me, unsympathetically, after I complained about yet another sleepless night: Little children, little problems. Big children, big problems.

It scared the peawadden out of me. You mean parenting would get harder?

Eight years later, I know it's true, and it's not true. I mean, everything is difficult when you're not sleeping. But also, as children grow and assert and become the independent beings we want them to be, balancing their needs with ours can become a high-wire balancing act, at best, or a combat zone at worst. Think divvying up household duties, leaving for school on time, negotiating clothes, sibling fights, annoyances big and small, tantrums yours and theirs.

Your Family Constitution was born out of such consternation. Author Scott Gale hit rock bottom at the end of a family outing, dared his wife to stop to let him out of the car, and walked home -- 4 hours -- in a snit. But he spent that walk contemplating a better way for his family to function.

Which came in the form of fantasy football. Or, to be more precise, the way his fantasy football league organized itself. To provide Clarity, Consistency and Commitment, a group comes up with its guiding principles.

In 102 pages, Your Family Constitution helps other families go through the process of creating their own document. For each dilemma, rather than having to choose the Easy Way (where the child wins, the adult loses; like "fine! have a second bowl of ice cream for dessert!") or the Hard Way (where the adult wins and the child loses; "because I said so!"), there is the Constitutional Way. Members of the family have previously defined and bought into a system of rewards and consequences, and stand a better chance of being self-regulating.

My family has not yet formulated our Family Constitution, but I can certainly see how having one would help us align more with unity, justice, tranquility and promotion of the common welfare, in the same vein as another Constitution.

Available through the Family Constitution website for $20 or through Amazon for $12.50.

Scott Gale, the author, is giving away a signed copy to two All Thumbs Readers. Please enter to win by leaving a comment below by November 2 and we'll randomly draw two winners. The author will send the books to the winners directly, so please make sure I can easily find your email address.

WINNERS: spit out 5 and 1. So Andy and Adopting1Soon. I'm trying to reach you to mail you your Family Constition. Congats, and thanks to all for supporting All Thumbs!

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7 chiming in:

My name is Andy. said...

after having several parenting fails this weekend, I think I could definitely learn something from this book!

I'm off to check out their website.

Cathy said...

sounds like something good to have. Amendments as the kids get older?

Cathy said...


Sheri said...

A family constitution sounds SO basic and yet we don't normally set this foundation for our families. Great idea!

Adopting1Soon said...

Oooh... sounds like a good one to have in my parenting tool box. I'm new at this, and looking for help.

My email is


chicklet said...

This actually sounds like a decent plan! Of course, I'd have to wait for this kid to be born first... oh, and grow up a little... oh, and be old enough to understand what it is we're agreeing to... somewhat:-)

MrsSpock said...

Kind of reminds me of "the rules" Supernanny makes individual to every family.

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