Family covenants have a lot of potential. Used with younger children, the covenant serves as a deeper lesson about compromise and demonstrates our religious values lived in the home. Used with teens, the covenant helps shift power dynamics through the co-creation of agreements.
Family covenants guide us to intentionality around our expectations of one another and our living arrangements. We go beyond the surface of being annoyed when our sibling borrows our clothes without asking and get to the root of our needs; in this case privacy, respect, or consent.
The covenant also helps parents and children/youth better understand what each of us is facing in our daily life when we go out to work or school. These things affect us and they show up in the needs or desires we have for our household covenant.
Create a covenant together. Start by asking each person to consider the question, “what do I need to do in order to be my better self in relationship with my family?”. Then, ask “What do I need from other family members in order to feel at ease, safe, and respected at home?”. Other questions to consider: “How should we behave with one another when we are upset?”, “How can we remind each other gently when the covenant is broken? What words might we use to invite one another back into right relationship?”.
Remember to post the covenant where it can be seen. It’s a living document, you can always add to it or revise it later. It’s a good idea to revisit the covenant a couple of times a year routinely. The covenant isn’t magic, like rules it will likely be broken. However, the covenant teaches us about the shared commitment and responsibility of relationship. However, the process of engagement gives us a rich sense of our connection with one another.