Our house has just three rules. Well, really we have a TON of rules, but Mike and I are sneaky, sneaky parents who have found a way to classify all rules into the Three Rules.
A a kid in our house is likely to be asked periodically, "What are the rules?"
To which he or she will reply, "Be honest, be obedient, be respectful."
And then the follow up question is usually,
And WHICH one did you have trouble with?, and then the conversation goes from there.
Those three rules cover everything, really. Ethan-6yr is smacking his brother with a stick in the backyard...? He'll tell you he's not beng respectful of his brother (or respectful of his brother's need to keep his skin in one, large, unbroken piece) if you ask him. See how those three blanket rules cover lots?
One of the things Mike and I have always drilled home is that if one of us should give a kid an answer, that child better NOT go to the other parent and try to get a different answer. (This also falls under 'Be respectful.')
Last night Ethan-6yr came and asked me if he could have a bandaid. We try to avoid the common childhood psychological ailment of Bandaid Dependency, so I looked at the tiny cut before saying, "Sure." It was a borderline call, really. I took into account that he was up late and tired and it really did have a speck of blood if you looked closely.
He said, "Oh thank you," and started to leave to get the bandaid. Then he stopped, thinking hard while he turned around, and said, "Um.... it's really important.... when you have a medical problem.... to get a...a... second opinion."
I was left, wondering WHAT he meant as he tore out of the room at top speed. He was already in the bathroom cabinet when I realized what he'd done, and how he'd 'sold' me on it!
Still, I shrieked a "ETHAN-IF-YOUR-DAD-SAID-"NO-BANDAID"-YOU-BETTER-PUT-IT-BAAAAACK!!!"
What a stinker.