If you find yourself struggling to find time with family because your family is over-committed and overwhelmed, then you might need to create a family mission statement. If you’re not sure why a family mission statement is important, check out these five reasons a family mission statement is beneficial.
When you create a family mission statement, what you’re really doing is creating a family path. It’s a clear path dictating your family’s core values, goals, direction and general purpose in life. Without one, many of us do what we do in our individual lives. We react.
This is why family mission statements have become so popular these days. They are really helpful! A family mission statement allows your family to be proactive. We are able to pursue our beliefs without all of the chaos and clutter of the world clouding our thoughts.
Creating a Family Mission Statement
Earlier this year, my son was struggling in his class. He occasionally has trouble, as all kids do, controlling his emotions. He tends to become very reactive. Now, he’s four, so he’s still early in the learning process. There are adults that can’t handle their emotions still!
One of the areas where he struggled was to consistently make good choices and consistently choose to be kind. When he would get upset, he would react in ways that were not good choices and would sometimes result in upsetting another child.
I knew he was capable of making the right choices because he does it frequently. It’s just when his emotional state is really heightened that he has more difficulty. So I decided to try something.
I gave him an affirmation to say each morning. The hope was that repeating this each day would keep it a little more front of mind. So each morning we now say, “I am a kind boy and I make good choices.”
He looks so happy when he says it. And you know what? His behavior has improved overall. He is more consistently making the right and kind choice.
A family mission statement is kind of an affirmation for your family. It is the rallying cry of your tribe. It becomes the words that come to mind whenever an opportunity to make a decision arises. And it helps to guide those decisions in a way that you truly desire to live.
A good family mission statement helps align us with what’s important to us and who we want to be in the world.
What your family mission statement should consist of.
A good family mission statement describes your family in a particular way. In general, here is what you want it to include.
- The goals of the family. What does your family want to accomplish? This can be broad and general such as service to others. Or it can be specific, such as valuing a thirst for knowledge and thus emphasizing learning.
- Your family’s core values. These are those things in life that are the most important to you. What does your family value most in the world?
Ultimately, once you complete the steps below, the content above will be laid out in words and phrases that describe your family’s specific purpose and direction as you move through life. It will be the words that guide who your family is and what is important to you.
How to create your family mission statement.
It might sound complex, but it’s actually quite simple. I will admit that it does take a little time, thought, and effort, though. That’s the most difficult part.
The good news is that you don’t have to create a family mission statement all at once. And once it’s created, you can refine it over time as circumstances change, such as children growing older.
Here are the basic steps to create a great family mission statement.
- Begin by gathering the family together. Everyone should have input. I recommend that older children and adults contribute. Younger children may not understand or may get bored and not be interested in participating. That’s fine. You can explain the mission statement at the end and as it changes in the future, they can contribute. Use your own judgement on if you feel your child is ready to participate in the process.
- Start asking questions and have everyone provide the answers they feel describe the family. Some questions to start with are: Who are we? What do we stand for? What do we believe? Consider things that you’re strongly for as well as strongly opposed to or want to avoid. There are limitless questions you can ask. Ask as many as you want until you feel like you have a really good description of your family made of various words and phrases.
- As you answer the questions, don’t look for “right” answers. Figure out who you really are and want to be. This is your guide, it’s not for anyone else. Some families will be heavily faith based, others may not have faith in their answers at all. Some families may have a lot of wacky answers because that’s who they are! There are NO wrong answers as long as you feel it’s accurate for you.
- Once you have your finished list of answers, go through and select a handful that you feel best represent your family and are most important to you. If you have a large family, consider giving everyone votes. Maybe each person gets to choose 6 and the top 10 are the winners. If you have a smaller family, just two or three people, choose a number to finish with. Then go through the list and start crossing off the ones you think describe your family the least that everyone agrees on. As the list dwindles closer to the end, it will get a little harder. Keep going!
- Now that you have your words and phrases that depict your family’s values, decide how you want to format your mission statement. Some people write out a paragraph. Others like a list of bullet points. Some form a few sentences that contain everything. Go with what feels right for your family. One note here, be sure to phrase everything in the positive. For example, instead of “We are not bullys,” you might say, “We are kind to everyone,” or “Choose kindness.”
- Don’t complete the entire process all at once if you can’t. Even if you can, maybe everyone hits a roadblock and is struggling to come up with words. At that point, take a break while everyone mulls it over in the back of their mind and reconvene in a few days. People will likely bring new ideas with them they thought of throughout the break.
- Keep track of your ideas somewhere as you go through this process. Especially if you’re not doing it all at once. A chalkboard, dry erase board, notebook or google doc all work.
- Finally, choose a statement, slogan or motto that encompasses the overarching theme of your family. Kind of like a quick summary of what your family values are. You don’t necessarily have to create one, although you certainly can! For example, if you notice that your family strongly values adventure, travel, new experiences, and learning new things you might borrow the phrase from the movie Up! “Adventure is out there!” as your family motto.
- Once your mission statement and motto is finalized, get it somewhere everyone can see it every day. Print up a poster to hang in the family room. Put it on a pillow. Hang a plaque in the kitchen. Whatever you want. Just make it visible to everyone every day as a reminder.
Ultimately, there are no set rules to this. This is for YOUR family. It’s to provide you with the compass that will guide your family. Once you have it in place, you’ll find that making decisions becomes a lot easier. When activities, events, and opportunities come up that hinder your family mission, you’ll realize it. That’s a lot better than signing up for a bunch of things and then as you’re doing them thinking, “Why did I say I would help with this?” We all have a different mission in life. What’s yours?