Sitting on the sofa with our feet up, Bettina and me are watching YouTube together (well I am watching what she is choosing) when I clear my throat. “Excuse me Dad” says Bettina and I respond “yes excuse me Bettina” good manners are everything to her. Bettina has a clear set of standards she maintains; this is part of her Code of Conduct.
In our family we each have a code of conduct, but we all work and support Bettina’s code of conduct. As a family we have been described as the ‘Truman Show” or the ‘1950s family’ so I guess this means we are bit old fashioned in some of our rituals and traditions. There is always an air of calm, fun and laughter in our house and there is a huge amount of respect for each other too. We call it ‘LiveLikeaRaw’ we even have a twitter handle for it.
Something Joyce and I agreed, at the outset of our marriage, is that when we have our daughters (we never considered for a moment that we wouldn’t have daughters) that they would come first in all our thinking and our decisions. They are now in their thirties and they still do and we are good with that.
With Bettina though, her parents and her big sister (Jennifer) recognise that she has additional needs and support due to her autism, complex communication, epilepsy and a learning disability. Bettina also recognises her own challenges: to understand her world, to be able to communicate what is important to her and that makes her a unique individual (and like no one you have ever met before!). We are all incredibly proud of how Bettina has achieved this from a very difficult start as her autism impacted on her in so many ways, very early on in her life, to the confident woman she has become.
Part of her individuality and what makes her such a delightful person to know and to hang out with is her Code of Conduct. So what is the code she shares with us (and expects you to keep too)?
BETTINA’S CODE OF CONDUCT – Bettina’s 6 Principles:
- Small Acts of Kindness. For me these acts mean so much, especially when I am least expecting them from Bettina. They show how she feels about someone in her life. You don’t have to say a thing; it is the act that matters.
- Moderate your voice and your speech. You will never hear raised voices in the Raw household, Bettina does not raise her voice when she speaks to you and would not accept you raising yours (it would frighten her). This goes for any conversations which take place in our family even if they don’t involve Bettina. We are very careful of the words we use and also our tone of voice.
- Privacy & Respect. Bettina respects your privacy and shows respect – she requires you to respect hers too.
- Good Manners, Standards and Courtesy. Bettina is a good role model for all three of these attributes. I have never known Bettina to fall down on any of them. Bettina has high standards of herself so she expects you to show the same standards to her. It is not unusual for both my wife and daughters to stand in front of a door and wait for me to open it first – I would never dream of walking in front of them as we enter our house.
- Depend on each other. We have always been a tight-knit family unit as we moved from Plymouth to Berlin and then back to England with our extended families living hundreds of miles away. This makes us all dependant on each other. Bettina demonstrates that it is ok to show that she is dependent on each of us and we respond equally to the trust and faith she shows in us every day. Bettina’s code to ask for help is to demonstrate strength
- Keep your promises. Bettina understands what promises means to her “you promised” – it would be alien to Bettina not to keep a promise so you must always do what you say you are going to do, if you can’t then don’t offer it in the first place
Adhering to Bettina’s code, in 2018 I am going to:
- Send thank you notes to those have helped and supported me. I will make a point of asking how I can help them too. Look out for small gifts from me too.
- I will think about the words and tone I will use when I am talking to people (especially Bettina) and always start my conversations with a smile
- I will offer respect before I receive it.
- I will always open doors for people and try to never walk in front of people as I walk into a room (this is not gender specific). I will always offer my seat on the Tube Train (or Train or Bus) for a person who may need it. For Joyce when I make a request or ask for a favour I will always endeavour to say ‘please’ – that’s a work in progress.
- Ask for help when I need it. Offer my help and support to those who ask for it.
- I will always keep my promises
Over the course of Christmas I was lucky enough to receive a big box of chocolates (I love chocolate by the way) looking up from reading my book there was Bettina stood in front of me with my box of chocolates offering me one!! Trying not to laugh I took one and thanked her, Bettina then went into another room to offer a chocolate to Joyce and Jennifer. Do you know I don’t think she took one for herself; it was just another small act of kindness from Bettina, part of her code of conduct
Do you have a code of conduct? Have you written it down? Why not share it with those who are in your life today and every day.