Why is it Important to Create a Family Mission Statement?
I took a 3 day workshop, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” many years ago. The author of the book by the same name, Steven Covey, felt it was important that every family have a mission statement. He touted that every successful business has a vision, a mission, a clear focus. How could any business be successful without this direction and without the management and employees knowing and understanding this direction?
He proposed that a successful, well-run family would need the same thing, a mission statement. My husband and I were newlyweds at the time and we just worked really well as a team of two, with plenty of time to discuss this week’s, this month’s and this year’s goals. We didn’t need a mission statement! I thought it was the silliest thing I’d ever heard! Well fast forward, about 6 years and 3 kids later and it hit me that we could really benefit from a family mission statement! My husband and I still seemed to have an understanding of a common goal, but that goal had turned into getting through the day with everyone fed, and safe and not letting the dishes and laundry pile-too high, or the toys take over the house. We had some ethereal, fuzzy understanding of our long term objective of emotional, physical, social and spiritual well-being for all five of us and but were very fuzzy on the details of how to get there. Without making our guiding ideals and principles concrete, how could we really measure or test our actions and ideas? How could we really know if our actions were in line with our ideals and values which should underlie even the smaller decisions?
What is a Mission Statement?
A mission statement is the guiding principle of how you relate to one another, and should guide you in the choices you make both big and many times even small. You can then use your mission statement to help yourself and your children reflect on their actions, and choices, be they past or ones under consideration.
How to Create a Family Mission Statement
For families with all kids under 5, the parents can create the mission statement. But once kids reach 5 or 6, it is important to bring them in on the process. It’s their family too! Plus if they are part of the process, it’s much easier to hold them accountable to the ideas in your Mission Statement. So have a family meeting, which I recommend doing once a week anyway. See our class on family meetings for more information.
Let everyone participate in the brainstorming process. Talk about:
What is our family about?
What do we want our family to be about?
What are our biggest values?
It may take several meetings to hit on the right guiding principles and words that fit your unique family. That’s OK, actually it’s good. Sometimes things this important need time to marinate.
Our Family Mission Statement
We went through this process recently as a family now that our kids are getting older and could participate. Here’s what we came up with:
Respect. Love. Grow. -Together
This really encompasses our family. We are big on respect, teaching and modeling respect on all it’s levels which includes a respect for self including health and fitness. Love is the core of our family. When we discuss gratitude, the first one we always share is that there is so much love in our family. Growth is about so much more than the physical. It encompasses emotional, cognitive and personal goals on every level. The ‘together’ is about the balance of the personal with the family. Ultimately we want to support each other in our personal goals as much as possible. But there will be times when our personal goals may not mesh with the family goals. So it is important to remember to consider our family when setting or acting on our personal goals.