One of the biggest mistakes we parents make is when we Major on the Minors.  It wastes energy, causes us undo consternation, and jeopardizes our relationship  with our kids.

In a previous post, I wrote about how parents have a God-given responsibility for managing their families.  It is certainly the parents’ job to decide what will and will not be allowed in the home.   In this post I want to encourage parents to carefully evaluate your current household expectations and rules to see if they may need rethinking.

Every parental expectation or rule  can be separated into two categories:  Majors and Minors.  They can be either spoken or unspoken, formal or informal, articulated or perceived.

By Majors, I mean the things that we absolutely require of our kids.  These are the firm expectations and rules for household behavior.  They are the things we are willing  to have battles with our kids over.

By Minors, I mean the things that are merely parental preferences, hopes, or dreams — but not requirements.  We may wish things were otherwise, but we are unwilling to engage in battle over these things.  A harmonious relationship with our kids is more important than getting these things that we’d prefer.

Everything must fit into one of these two categories.  There is nothing in the middle — either it’s required or it’s not!  Parents will be wise to think carefully about where they put what.


So what determines which of the myriad of possible expectations belong on the Majors’ side or the Minors’?   Several factors will play into this.  Here are some:

  • Religious convictions.  (e.g. rules related to church attendance, religious instruction, modesty, swearing, etc.)
  • Values (e.g. respect, responsibility, kindness, chores, keeping commitments, etc.)
  • Family traditions (e.g. eating together, holidays, relative interactions)
  • Perception of the well-being and safety needs of the family (e.g. internet accountability, porn, smoking, sarcasm, bullying, noise volume, hygiene)
  • Pet peeves and personality factors  (e.g. OCD, Autism, ADHD, and other realities that need special accommodation)
  • Special needs of family members (e.g. sleeping baby, stress, lack of sleep)
  • Learning from the example and inspiration of others

Three final thoughts…

First, consider carefully in which box your expectations should reside, because if you Major on the Minors you’re likely choosing numerous and needless battles with your kids.  It was always our goal to have the fewest number of battles with them.  Each battle builds a relational wall of separation between us.

Second, be aware that some things will need to switch back and forth from one list to the other over time.  This is because family needs change as everyone ages, our abilities and capacities can grow, and our tolerance levels can vary.

Third, make your list of Majors as small as possible.  Have as few rules as you can.  Say “yes”, every time you can.  Choose your “no”s strategically and be prepared to explain why.

This might be a better mix…





In my next post, I’ll share some of the outlandish things that our girls did that we chose to classify as Minors!

And in the final post of this series, I’ll share some practical ways to evaluate your current Majors list.