Why You Should Create Family Rules Now More Than Ever

Dr Daniel Amen and Tana Amen BSN RN On The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast

Life gets hectic, and even in less stressful times it can be difficult to maintain structure and stability in your family. Therefore, creating your own set of family rules can be instrumental in bringing both order and happiness to family life. In this episode, Dr. Daniel Amen and Tana Amen discuss why you should create a system of rules for your family to abide by and the best practices for doing so.

Read Full Transcript

Dr Daniel Amen: Welcome to The Brain Warrior's Way podcast. I'm Doctor Daniel Amen.
Tana Amen: And I'm Tana Amen. In our podcast, we provide you with the tools you need to become a warrior for the health of your brain and body.
Dr Daniel Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way podcast is brought to you by Amen Clinics, where we have been transforming lives for 30 years using tools like brain spect imaging to personalize treatment to your brain. For more information visit Amenclinics.com.
Tana Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way podcast is also brought to you by Brain M.D., where we produce the highest quality nutraceuticals to support the health of your brain and body. To learn more, go to brainmd.com.
Tana Amen: I'm sort of a freak about preparing for crisis, and so-
Dr Daniel Amen: It's called "prepper".
Tana Amen: Yeah. So I'm one of those people-
Dr Daniel Amen: She's a super prepper.
Tana Amen: I always get all this ... People always give me flack because they're like, "Oh, nothing ever bad happens here. You're crazy. You're spending all this money." I'm like, I'm not going to say, "I told you so," but a thank you would be nice. So I've been prepping for all this time. What I did because they were nervous about what was happening, I had the little one, and now the older one wants to do it, my older niece wants to do it, go through with me and make inventory lists. I showed them where everything is, all the medical supplies, the food, the tools. I showed them how all the emergency shutoff, like electricity, gas, water. Went through everything with them. Where all the purifying stuff is. I mean, I have everything. It's crazy.
Tana Amen: But it made them happy because now they got to see, "Oh, we're going to be okay," one. Number two, it gave them something to do, and they were taking responsibility. It was amazing. Yeah, they got to ... Someone said, "Medications?" Yes. Oh, mediation? Yes, meditation for sure. Prayer and meditation critical right now, for sure. Because your mental health is just as important, if not more so, right now than anything else to keep your immunity, to keep your system stable.
Dr Daniel Amen: Mental hygiene is as important as-
Tana Amen: Yes, they're all important.
Dr Daniel Amen: ... washing your hands. But, time. You're spending lots of time with them.
Tana Amen: Yes.
Dr Daniel Amen: This exercise, special time, so good. Twenty minutes a day, do something with them they want to do, besides prepping. During that time-
Tana Amen: But they want to do it.
Dr Daniel Amen: ... no commands, no questions, no direction. Because that's bonding. Then listening. Listening is basically as soon as they say something, don't say something back. As soon as they say something, repeat back what you hear and then begin to listen for the feelings behind what they are saying.
Dr Daniel Amen: So, if they said, "Oh, I'm so afraid," because you have CNN or Fox on the whole time. Stop that. "So afraid." Don't go, "Oh, there's nothing to be afraid of. What's the matter with you? We're all going to be okay." Don't do that. Go, "Oh, you're afraid," and let them talk it through. Because if you just jump in they won't tell you what they're thinking.
Dr Daniel Amen: I think one of the best things you do, you've done over the years with Chloe is even when she'd say outrageous things, you didn't just judge and shut it down by telling her how to think, you'd let her talk.
Tana Amen: Yeah, well one of the things that happened through this. She surprised me a lot with her initial reaction. Because we always called her our 45 year old soccer mom. All of a sudden, she didn't act like that in this case. She'd just got her driver's license. She'd just gotten her first job. I mean, literally was supposed to start the weekend after we got all this news.
Tana Amen: So she was pretty upset. She was like, "Why is this happening? This isn't fair." They know not to say, "This isn't fair," to me because I'm like, "Fair's a place with bad food and farm animals. It has nothing to do with life." In this case I didn't really jump in and say that. I really tried to listen because she wasn't acting like herself, she was acting different.
Tana Amen: We tried to listen, and I'm like, I'm a little surprised by her reaction. Because usually she's very much a caretaker, she's very maternal. So she wasn't being that way, and she was resisting and pushing back a little bit. So I listened, and then because we listened she was able to work through it.
Tana Amen: She said something so interesting. She came to me the next day, she's like, "All right, I get it now. It took me time, but I understand now." I said, "What's that?" She said, "I figured out what it is. I've never been in trouble, I've never been on restriction." Because we use something called love and logic, where we let them pay logical consequences. So restriction with my daughter doesn't really work that well. Letting her pay natural consequences for her actions is very, very effective. She hates it.
Tana Amen: She's like, "I've never been told I can't really do something. I've never been told I'm on restriction. All of a sudden, I didn't do anything wrong and my entire life is shut down. I just got my license, and I just got a job." She's like, "It felt to me, even though I knew logically it wasn't rational, it felt like it was you guys telling me that." She's like, "I knew it wasn't right, but it felt like I was being told by my parents 'you can't do this stuff, you're on restriction.'" She goes, "I just had to process it. I just needed some time to process it."
Tana Amen: She's like, "Then when I finally did get it, it reminded me of when I was told I had cancer. I didn't get it. They told me I had cancer, and I'm like, "Yeah okay. I'm going to come back in a few months, I'm busy right now." No, I literally said that. They told me it was a slow growing cancer, so I'm like, "Okay, I've got a few months then. I'll be back in a few months. I'll see you then."
Tana Amen: He's like, "You're not really understanding what I'm saying." Then when he finally got I through to me what he was saying, I was like, "No, no. I'm not doing this." I got really angry. That's what she did. She was like, "No, no. I'm not doing this." She reminded me so much of ... It was a very similar reaction to being given very bad news.
Tana Amen: So why would I get mad at her for that? I want to help her process that, right?
Dr Daniel Amen: But it's because you listened, that she was able to talk herself through. If you would have just been angry and told her how to think, then it would have just engendered bitterness.
Tana Amen: Now, there was one point ... We had that really great talk, but there was one point where she pushed back a little bit. I said, "Look, I'm doing my best to be sensitive, but let's be clear about one thing. Me being sensitive is secondary to everyone being safe. So let me be very clear-"
Dr Daniel Amen: We'll we're going to get to boundaries. Boundaries come up, but bonding is so important to parenting. We'll talk about discipline, but we're not talking about it until later. When I teach parent training, it's later. The first thing, know what you want, number one. Number two, it's bonding, which requires time and listening. Active listening, you can look it up on the internet, or read some of my books. It's in Feel Better Fast. Listening is so critical and important.
Dr Daniel Amen: Third thing, rules. You got to have rules. Society has rules, families should have rules.
Tana Amen: Some people don't like that word. I don't care what you call it, structure, boundaries, whatever you want to call it, call it that. Especially when we're all in a house together, jammed in here together. It's like we have to function with some structure, some normalcy, right, so that we don't step on each other.
Dr Daniel Amen: [crosstalk 00:07:37] And don't have a hundred of them. I had an OCD patient once, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder patient. She had 108 rules. She had them all posted on the refrigerator. No! No. No more than eight. But it gives structure. Things like, "Tell the truth." Now, if it's a rule, you've got to follow it too. Because if you don't, children do what you do, not what you tell them to do.
Dr Daniel Amen: So, if somebody calls and go, "Oh, tell them I'm not home." Well, you're not following the rules.
Tana Amen: You're lying.
Dr Daniel Amen: I like, "Tell the truth. Do what mom and dad say the first time." Love that rule because when they don't, rather than you repeat yourself ... Did you know, if a parent repeats themselves more than five times, their chance of abusing that child goes way up.
Tana Amen: I can see why, it's frustrating. I mean, it's not appropriate, it's not okay.
Dr Daniel Amen: Right so, "Do this," and if they don't it's like, "Well, what's the rule?" If they don't go do it then, then there's a consequence. And you train people when to comply, and when not to comply. Put away things you take out, and one of my favorite ones is, we treat each other with respect. So, "Is that respectful?" Which means you have to treat your wife or your husband with respect, otherwise you're just not modeling something that you're going to be proud of.
Tana Amen: Right. So this is where that would fit in where I told Chloe when she pushed back just a little bit, because I mean, it's a hard time. I said, "Look, I'm going to be sensitive of how you feel. That comes secondary to everybody being safe. So, as sensitive as I am to how you feel, it doesn't matter, this is what's going to happen."
Tana Amen: Because normally I may not come down that hard, but it's critical right now. Right now, I said ... This is what I said because love and logic is about them paying natural consequences. It's like, okay, you do something stupid you get to pay the consequences. That's fine when the consequences only affect you. When the consequences affect your entire family, your community, your grandparents, now that's a little different. Now I'm going to step in.
Dr Daniel Amen: So that's where rules and structure can be so important, and what you don't like. Notice what you like more than what you don't like. You train people how to treat you. Basically you train them by what you accept and what you notice. I collect penguins. You actually see one on my top shelf. Why? Because the model for me, growing up, no one was noticing what they liked. I'm one of seven children. My mom's awesome, and my dad's awesome, but they only noticed what I did wrong.
Dr Daniel Amen: We did not have a close relationship. I wanted to do better, but my oldest who I adopted, he was hard for me. He just pushed back on virtually everything I said. He would have fit the criteria for Oppositional Defiant Disorder. It's like, "How many times out of ten, when you ask a child to do something, will they do it the first time without arguing or fussing with you?" If the answer is less than three, than they usually have Oppositional Defiant Disorder.
Tana Amen: If you're enjoying The Brain Warrior's Way podcast please don't forget to subscribe, so you'll always know when there's a new episode. While you're at it, feel free to give us a review or five star rating, as that helps others find the podcast.
Dr Daniel Amen: If you're considering coming to Amen Clinics, or trying some of the brain healthy supplements from Brain M.D., you can use the code, "Podcast 10," to get a 10 percent discount on a full evaluation at Amenclinics.com or a 10 percent discount on all supplements at Brainmdhealth.com. For more information, give us a call at 855-978-1363.