Family Complaint Form–Engaged

If your house is anything like ours, there’s a fair amount of time spent putting out fires.  Not literally, well-we actually DO spend some time putting out real fires, but that’s not what I mean.  I’m talking about those little arguments that manage to crop up when you’ve got kids that can consume all.  of.  your.  time.

And from what I’ve seen in the last twelve years the little fires that consume all of a parent’s time are fires that they just don’t matter.  At all, usually.

But what’s a parent supposed to do?  We can’t just ignore our kids and we can’t spend all of our time settling arguments between them.  To solve this dilemma I’ve instituted the Family Complaint Form.

If the kids are hurt or something bad or crazy has happened, we intervene as usual.  But if there’s just arguing going on….”It’s my turn”, “That’s my ball-book-game”, etc….We’re not going to get involved at all.  All of the little fires that need to get put out get directed to the Family Complaint Form.

I think the FCF will accomplish a couple of things.

  • It’ll teach the kids to clearly express their thoughts and feelings with words, even when they’re feeling very emotional.
  • It’ll teach them what’s really important.  I intentionally made the form just a liiiiiiittle difficult to complete so that before they sit down to fill it out they’ve gotta consider if it’s worth the time and effort or not.
  • It encourages the kids to work out their own problems.  They can settle issues amongst themselves or fill out the form….so far, they’ve always chosen to just work it out amongst themselves.
  • It takes the burden off of us to settle every little argument that comes up.  It’s not that I don’t care about the kids and their problems, but at some point a parent has to prioritize their time and focus their energy where it really belongs.  In my not so humble opinion “It’s my turn” isn’t where a parents attention needs to be continually focused.

I see parents all the time who talk about how exhausted they are from taking care of their kids.  And a lot of that is because they use up all of their energy on nonsense.

So I present to you the Family Complaint Form.  Feel free to steal and alter it.  I just copied it here directly from a Word doc, depending on font size it will fill up one page.

A couple of quick things that I explained to the kids…

  • The kids are encouraged to work out problems on their own.  With words.  If “working it out” becomes excessively violent they’re in trouble and the form isn’t an option any more.  We’ll deal with the fight, but not what caused it.
  • The boys are asked to recommend a punishment.  But we’re going to keep all of these FCFs on file.  So if KicksTheBall is found guilty of kickinghisbrother and we see that last week he wanted PlaysWithFire to be grounded for a month for the same thing…..Guuuuueeeeeessssss wwwwhhhaaaaaattttt?  Yeah.  So they’ve gotta be pretty rational when it comes to a recommended punishment.


Family Complaint Form

Family Complaint Form (FCF) Process:

1-Complete this form and submit it to Daddy or Mommy for review.

2-If you do something stupid to try and resolve the issue on your own, the FCF is no longer an option for you.  Life is all about choices, boys.  Choose wisely.  

3-After review of the FCF Daddy and / or Mommy will gather evidence, interview witnesses and reach a verdict.  

4-After the verdict is rendered the decision can only be appealed if new evidence is discovered.  It is imperative that you present ALL available evidence and testimony when completing the FCF or during the interview process.

5-Please note that the appeal process outlined in #4 deals only with new EVIDENCE, not new testimony.  It is entirely incumbent upon the plaintiff or defendant to present their entire story during the initial interviews.

6-This form must be filled out completely and legibly before it will be accepted for review.

7-Lying or attempting to mislead Daddy or Mommy at any time, verbally or with this form, will result in immediate and severe punishments the likes of which you have never seen or imagined. Please note: Incomplete statements will be considered lies and attempts to mislead.


On the back of this form please write a DETAILED account of what occurred, what caused it to occur and what happened after the incident occurred.  Include answers to all of the questions below and any other information you believe pertinent to the investigation.

What is your full name?

When and where did this incident occur?

Where there any witnesses to the incident?  If so, how much of the incident did they observe?

Was anyone injured?  If so, who was injured….how were they injured….how severe was the injury?

What do you believe would be an appropriate punishment for this incident?  Why?

Did you do anything to instigate the incident?

Have you used anything other than words to attempt to resolve this problem on your own?

So far we’ve had a mixed reaction to the FCF at our house.  ReadsTheBooks just looked at me like I had lost my mind when I explained it to them and defined legible and verdict for KicksTheBall.  PlaysWithFire immediately began trying to imagine all of the unimaginable punishments I have in store for liars.  He’s terrified of whatever he came up with.  KicksTheBall was overcome with inner turmoil over what kind of punishment he could recommend, presumably knowing that it would come back to bite him later, and actually teared up a little at the thought of being in as much trouble as he wanted for his brothers.

And as of today, not a single kid has bothered to fill out the form.  But we’ve nipped more than a few arguments in the bud already…..”Do you want an FCF to fill out?  Then be quiet and work it out.”  And having them actually fill out the form was never the point anyway.

2 Comments on “Family Complaint Form–Engaged

  1. I used a similar approach to kids tattling at school. It pretty much nipped it in the bud. They did not want to spend their time writing down their complaint!!

    • That’s the plan Stephanie! We actually had our first FCF hearing last night. I need to find a way to make the hearing miserable, I think they thought it was fun. Fun enough to do again, lol, and that’s definitely not the point.