What’s important to your family? What does your family stand for? Maybe you’ve never thought about it much, other than what your family isn’t (“In our family, we don’t hit!”) But talking about who your family is and what you care about is an amazing opportunity to bond with your kids and give them a sense of belonging and identity. Plus, coming up with a family mission is fun!

 

Just talking about this stuff will empower your kids and encourage them to think about your family’s morals and goals as a meaningful part of their lives. Knowing what your family really cares about will help guide their behavior. It can even help you make parenting decisions and choose your battles: What really matters in your family, and what can you let slide?

 

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is — well, to come up with your family mission. Here’s how. 

 

Make it special

Call a special family meeting to celebrate your family. Do it at your family’s favorite restaurant, over a favorite family meal at home, on a trip to your family’s favorite vacation spot, or on a special occasion like Valentine’s Day, Mother’s or Father’s Day, or New Year’s. Just keep it short: For little kids with limited attention spans, it’s best to keep your meeting to about 20 minutes. The last thing you want this to feel like is a chore. After all, you can always meet again another day.

 

Q & A

Here are a few questions to get you started:

  1. What do you love about our family?
  2. What are your favorite things we do together? 
  3. How would other people describe our family?
  4. What makes you look forward to coming home at the end of the day?
  5. What does our family care about the most?

Make sure each child and parent gets to contribute. Write everything down, even if the answer seems silly. Remember, the idea is not to come up with some ideal family mission for some imaginary ideal family; it’s to figure out what the answers really are for your family. Bonus: Borrow your kid’s chalkboard or easel so everyone can see all the answers.

 

Dig in and narrow it down

In some cases, you may need to dig a little to get at what’s really important. For example, if your kids say they love going to the park together, ask why. Is it because they love playing together as a family? Because they love being outside? Or some other reason?

 

Look for themes

Which core values keep coming up? A few examples:

  • Adventure
  • Creativity
  • Faith
  • Fun
  • Helping
  • Honesty
  • Kindness

What else keeps getting mentioned? It might be something your family loves to do together, like traveling, or what you value most, like plenty of quiet time or surrounding yourselves with friends and family. Just make sure you include something from each family member in your final family mission.

 

Polish and print

Together, choose the five to ten things that feel most authentically your family, then rewrite them as bullet points or sentences. Finally, type everything into a nice-looking document, print it, and frame it or put it up on the fridge as a daily family reminder of what’s really important. Mission accomplished!

 

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