Ok, I am a big fan of family contracts. They usually worked pretty well in my house and I have already encouraged cell phone contracts. Recently I stumbled upon a number of online contractual services. I decided to do some research for you to see if any of them are up to snuff.
This website offers behavioral contracts:
“You receive a Family Values Worksheet, and 9 individual contracts including: Teen Driving Contract, Drugs and Alcohol Contract, Teen Dating Contract, General Behavior Contract, and Consequences.”
I decided to break down and pay the $20 for this contract package and charged it to my business credit card as research for my blog. I really do not like spending money. For $20 I expected these PDF’s to be able to make fireworks explode out of my computer, follow the kids around to enforce curfews and maybe even have a customizable ‘sign-in-blood’ section. Alas, no, they were just PDF’s with a few fill-ins and fancy words to scare kids.
I would not recommend paying for these, they are soooo general and it would be better to make your own (see tip 3 below for some samples).
Again, in the name of research I signed up for this new online contract service. Stickk:
Promotes healthier and happier living by helping people achieve their personal goals through the signing of Commitment Contracts. Happier people = happier world!
Cute, right? How can I not sign up for something that promotes a happier world. They have contracts for everything, even “learn how to eat with chopsticks!” To test out if this would actually work for parents and teens, I decided to sign-up for a good old weight-loss contract. I figure,
if Operation Oprah succeeds…when Operation Oprah succeeds, and my nightly affirmations work in the next 26 days (like the book said) I will have to look uber svelt and toned (the camera adds 10 pounds!).
At first, it was fun and I was excited by the prospect of losing 10 pounds, but then the contract got kinda serious…as in, it asked me to put up money–if you do not make your goal you can donate to charity. Real money, no monopoly dollars here people, my hard earned cash…have you checked my Google Adsense stats recently, I have made $30.35…for all time (feel free to click around on any of the ads on my site if you are feeling generous).
Anyway, we already learned above with the bogus $20 PDF’s that I do not like to spend money. I wussed out and chose the ‘no money’ option. I think this is a really good way to get teens to keep their word though, the ‘goodbye allowance’ aspect and the third party enforcer makes it easier for you and more motivating for kids.
Here is where it got even harder, it makes me check in with my measurements, and makes me list an enforcer and support contacts. I put my mom, my boyfriend and my second email address on there…(hey, I can be a really good support for myself.) They get an email to remind me of my goal and they have to check in with me at ‘weigh-ins’ too!
OMG! Now, I not only have to face myself at the end of 12 weeks, but also my friends and family. Plus you join a whole network of other weight-loss contractees! Great, thats all I need, some rando perv emailing me to remind me that I still need to lose five pounds.
Well, I just started last night. I included the contract for you to see, I debated whether or not to put my real weight on there for the world, but hey, why not, I would rather have you remind me in 12 weeks about my goal over the strangers on Stickk. (Yes, I know I made the goal 12 pounds instead of 10 like I said above…2 for good measure). I will let you know how it goes, but I think this could be a really good service for your family.
3) Make Your Own!
We love DIY projects (do-it-yourself) here in my house. So here are a few guidelines for you to make your own:
Ideas on Parent Contract Topics:
-Driving Contract- driving with friends, hours at home, driving siblings.
-Cell Phone Contract- Hours, who to call, minutes, texts, games, calling during family time
-Drinking and Smoking Contract- substances, partying,
-Dating Contract- Age limits, dating times, locations,
-List of Family Traditions, morals and values
-Chores Contract- A fridge board is always good for this.
-Electronics Contract- when to use TV, videogames, computer, hours etc.
-Family Time Contract- no cell phones, amount of time together, activities.
-School Contracts- Academics, Homework time, studying, grades,
-Curfew Contracts- after dances, parties, sleep-overs, what happens at friend’s houses
-Money Contracts: Allowance, summer jobs, spending money.
Tips to Set Contracts Up with Your Family:
- Explain to your kids why you are setting up the agreement: You do not want to have to nag anyone about rules and consequences and this is a way to just write it all out.
-Make sure you can live with the consequences in the agreement you make (can you really stand having to entertain them if they cannot watch tv /talk on the phone/ or play videogames for a month?)
-Have a clause for ‘updating’ and how often you can make changes to the contract.
-Have everyone sign it and put it up somewhere…it makes it feel more official.
If you liked this article get more Radical Parenting in our new book: Do I Get My Allowance Before or After I’m Grounded?