When you hear that something like family is “on the rocks” you probably think, “Yikes! I guess they are not doing so well!” Right?

But this phrase can have a different meaning! Let’s look at buildings that need their footers in bedrock to be of sound construction. Or a foundation of rock to be poured for stability. Classic stories like the “Three Little Pigs” even teach us the importance of stone and rock.

A biblical example

In the Bible, Matthew 7:24-27 gives us the practical and the underlying life principles of being built on the rock:

“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it” (Matthew 7:24-27).  

Rock is firm, reliable and trustworthy. I am guessing you would love to see some of these among the words to describe your family.

But how can you make that a reality?

Family R.O.C.K.S. as a rule

One thing is overwhelmingly true. It does not happen by default. It never has, but especially today with cultural influences trying to disrupt your family foundation every day, parents must be even more diligent and intentional with building this foundation daily.

One concept that can help accomplish this mighty task is to keep it simple! In a complicated world, often the simplest answers are the most effective and this applies in your home and family as well.

I highly recommend introducing this one rule in your home. What? One rule? How can that be?

Having one rule that every single person can remember and restate in five seconds or less will get everyone on the same page. I often call a family a team and, in a team, everyone must have the same objective, or the entire effort will fall apart.

What is the family R.O.C.K.S. rule?

In our home we use the rule R.O.C.K.S. My four daughters know that when something is misaligned and mom looks at me with that look only parents can give and says, “ROCKS,” they adjust accordingly.

So, what is this magical rule? Let me walk you through.


True respect is not just skin deep. It penetrates inside of words and below the curled corners of a smile into the heart. You cannot fake respect like you can fake “nice” and it is possible to respect something, or someone, you disagree with.

We are called to love others. Part of love is respecting their perspectives that have been built on their experiences and not yours. It is respect of the needs others have and the fact that we are all human and doing the best we can.

One thing that can easily happen in a home with siblings is that they feel like they can disrespect one another because that other person is always there and there is not a fear of them falling away or leaving. Because of this, you see many siblings get closer when one is about to leave or if a sibling gets sick. So much is forgiven when the proximity is threatened and when struggle enters the story.

In my life I have lost many people and one of the small silver linings to that pain is always knowing that you never know. Learning to celebrate and respect victories of others instead of resenting them because they are not you and learning to respect yourself and your unique path that stays aligned within your values.

There are four respects that we learned years ago when my girls were in early grade school. Those were the respect of self, others, time and property and we always remembered this and enveloped them into our family rule and life.


This can be a hard one if there is not a strong connection of trust between parent and child. If there isn’t, start with small steps of trust. The best way to build trust is to say you are going to do something and actually do it.

But, when you do firm up that trust between you, then obedience is key to keep that trust growing stronger. In a family team everyone must be working together, but the parents are the captains with the right to change the plays and direct the “game” if they need to.

There must be respect though, and not just “because I said so.” You need to explain your decision in a way they understand and with authority.

Above all, remember that everyone, including you as a parent, is obedient to something and you want to make sure it is something of faith, integrity and honour. In our home we follow the Lord, and the girls follow us as we are teaching them to follow the Lord and adopt their faith and obedience as their own instead of through the filter of us.


We didn’t actually have a “C” for a long time until my oldest daughter was on a two-week expedition in the middle of nowhere, on the east coast of the U.S. We couldn’t contact her the entire time. It was a trust exercise like none other. Her small group of four young ladies and a leader were kayaking one day and passed a wall with the word “compassion” graffitied along its exterior and she said, “That’s it!”

Compassion is concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others. In a world that is full of sufferings and misfortunes this is an important trait to hold onto because it is so easy today to become numb to its effects. Another school shooting, another explosion in a rebel zone far away, another market crash, another lost to drugs etc.

Even more intimately in the home, this is important when a sibling falls and gets hurt. Or someone is sad over a friendship or received a low grade after trying really hard to study. Sibling comparison can be a thief of compassion. The little situations are practice for the big ones.

It’s important, with all these aspects of R.O.C.K.S., to illustrate them first yourself so they can learn what this looks and feels like. Above all else, our children learn from what we do more than what we say.


Being generous and considerate of others is a trait that can seem like the world is running low on sometimes. I always say that the best way to change the world is one living room at a time. Your living room is your child’s training zone.

If we can all weave kindness into the foundations of our children, the world could be a different place in one generation. Can you imagine?

One of the greatest challenges for our kids today is that social media and fake friendships compromise the basic ideals of what a “friend” is.

Kindness does not have a prerequisite of agreement love or even wanting to hang out on the weekends. Kind is just kind, and we can all do that.

Self-disciplined leader

In our house we have a saying that goes, “discipline yourself, so others don’t have to” and we stand by it. If you can discipline your own words and actions, which is all you are known by in this world, with your true values then you are well on your way to becoming a self-disciplined leader who can value and appreciate yourself and trust and believe in yourself.

This is the end goal. Everything stems from this one core vine rooted in your foundation of experiences, lessons and faith.

When they come into our lives as babies, they are 100 per cent directed and disciplined through parents. Before they leave home, the goal is to have them able to do this for themselves and I promise you, it is possible.

Final thoughts on building a family on the R.O.C.K.S.

Whether you use R.O.C.K.S. or some other rule in your home to guide your family, keep just a few things in mind

1. Keep it super simple.

2. Align the rule with the destination you want to go in the long run.

3. Find a rule that, when followed, swallows all the minor rules into itself like talking back, sharing, not throwing fits or whining etc.

Anything is possible. Apply your rule with patience, guidance and consistency and you will be a family on the R.O.C.K.S. too!

Nellie Harden is the founder of The 6570 Family Project™ where she helps families come together to build a foundation of worth, esteem and confidence in their young women before they leave home so they can leave as a Self-Disciplined Leader™ of themselves and go into the world equipped for their greatness!

© 2022 Nellie Harden. All rights reserved. Used with permission. Originally published at FocusOnTheFamily.com.

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