Friday, March 4, 2011

7 habits of happy families - creating a family mission statement

Creating a family mission statement is a process.  It can't be done in one family night, or quite possibly even three.  It requires contemplation on things we may not be accustomed to thinking deeply on as a family unit.  And its my opinion that it requires some personal introspection on the part of the parental units.  (See "Your Sunday school answers aren't working for me"...the result of a moment of personal introspection spurred by the family mission statement activity.
As I've mentioned before, our family is participating in a 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families class offered at our son's school, and the experience is just exactly what we want and need in our lives right now.  Its a wonderful blessing to interact in this way with other families and school administrators/teachers. The information they are sharing with us is so full of positive expectations that we can't help  but feel empowered and energized by what we learn.

I may have already mentioned that the last two weeks we've been giving consideration to developing a family mission statement.  I'm in love with this idea! Its not a new idea, its been around a LONG time.  But now is the right time for our family to do this and live by it.

The first step has been to brainstorm AS A FAMILY (because otherwise it would be mom and dad's mission statement right?  Not that there's anything wrong with mom and dad having mission statements, but then it needs to be called what it is and not represented as a FAMILY mission statement.)

We have been brainstorming on 4 different topics:
 What does a happy family look like?
What do we want people to say about our family in 50 years?
What do we believe?
How do we treat each other?

I think some families participating in our class have had a difficult time answering the "How do we treat each other" question because there is a difference between how they DO treat each other, and how they know they SHOULD treat each other.  Speaking as someone who has worked/is working very hard to eliminate that discrepancy in her home, I can say that I understand the difficulty in answering that question.  So should you find yourself reading this post because you're thinking of writing a family mission statement, let it be known that in my opinion, the appropriate way to answer this question is how do you HOPE to be treated within the walls of your home and what are you willing to COMMIT too in terms of how you will treat your family members.

There are no "right" answers to these questions.  That was something I initially struggled with.  In fact, that is what prompted the "Your Sunday school answers aren't working for me" post.  I started off feeling that there were "right" answers, or at least "better" answers.  I assumed that these answers were the classic Sunday school answers. That's not necessary.  If those are the answers that sit genuinely in your heart, go with them.  But if they don't, this is not a sign of being fundamentally broken.  It just means that your path will be different from what your Sunday school teacher's path will be.  And that's good.  No two paths should be exactly alike! I am absolutely positive that the 12 men Jesus chose for his disciples each had unique talents they brought to the fold, and I am convinced that we are at our most effective in this life when we have recognized and embraced our talents and strengths, even those that might look to be weaknesses at first glance.

As our family has brainstormed, these are some of the things we have come up with so far:

"What does a happy family look like?"--
Learning, exploring, trying new things, cooperation, hard work, respect, love, charity, service, being a family forever, technology, reading, fun-loving, smiling, playing together happily, taking turns, knowing how to handle disappointment, patience, doing our best, never giving up.
"what do we want people to say about our family in 50 years?"
They were GOOD LOOKING! (or at least had a great sense of humor)
Talented, hard working, smart, genuine, trustworthy, honorable, happy, charitable, helpful, friendly, adventurous.  They loved each other, they never gave up. (yes, you do recognize a theme there.)
"What do we believe?"
We believe in God, that we have a purpose as a family, and as individuals.  Our family can be eternal. the golden rule, we each are unique.  We can discover things about ourselves, each other, and our world when we try new things.  There is a time to be a leader, and a time to be a follower.  Its important to know the difference.  Its important to stand firm in our beliefs.  Learning should be a lifelong endeavor. Its important to have fun together and enjoy each other's company.
"How do we treat each other?"
with kindness, respect, patience.  We hope for the best out of each other.

Over the next week or couple of weeks we'll be doing some more brainstorming and ultimately developing our family mission statement from these ideas.  Its coming slowly, and very  much in spurts.  We have found that the kids have only about a 5-10 minute attention span for this.  I'm sure its because this is still a very large concept to them, but they do participate, and they've offered up some great ideas during our brainstorming. 
If you find yourself working towards a family mission statement, or already have one, share away! I'd love to see examples of what other families have come up.


Anonymous said...

Great idea. I wish it's something I thought Larry would get on board with. (He's kinda anti-goal-writing-down, and this is too similar, I'd guess.) I hope your clan finds success in the process.

Octamom said...

Great post! We have a version of a family mission statement and I'm encouraging a group of young moms I'm mentoring to this about their vision for their families~~love this!