I was thinking about rearing children the other day and today Canada AM had a Parent Panel discussing underage drinking in terms of what is permissible.  I agreed with the police officer on the panel who said that how will kids know which laws they can break and which ones they can’t?  Because drinking under age is criminal.  I drank underage, I can’t say it was ever permitted by my parents.  I knew it was wrong.  
But the officer makes a good point – if you allow the lines to be blurred or crossed some of the time what is the impact the rest of the time?  What age is okay to break the law?  Do you let your 12 year old drink?  Or just drink around you?  Do you let your 9 year old drink? Do you let your 17 ½ year old drink?  (Manitoba laws allow people 18 and over to drink legally)  How will they know when it’s acceptable to break the law and when it’s not?  And how will they know that other laws aren’t okay to break as well?
You may be sitting there saying, that’s crazy, of course you don’t let a 9 year old drink.  And you may also be saying its common sense.  But, does yourchild have your common sense?  Or do they grow into common sense? 
If you consider this scenario in your workplace – what are you allowing some of the people to do some of the time that is not really by the rules?  And how did you arrive at that conclusion or standard of what was okay and what wasn’t but is still against company policy?  And when do you allow it and when don’t you?  And furthermore, what message does that send to the rest of your team?  Wouldn’t it make sense that you are creating a culture of rule breakers?  Is that really what you want? 

If you govern your office, your team and your company with lazy boundaries and sometimes rules why are you surprized with other infractions?  As children grow it’s our job to give them more responsibility and I think that’s applicable to our work place as well but that responsibility must be in concert with maturity and the laws of our land.  If you put rules in place, stick to them, enforce them, and make them matter.  If you find they are not working then change the rule or get rid of the rule – kind of like the second or third child who the first born insists has it easier.  But isn’t it just the fact that your parents have a better understanding of their rules and how they do or don’t work?  It’s not meant to be easier for the next one coming, it’s meant to be better.  Go be better.