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The Value of a Family Mission Statement

October 2014

Every parent wants to achieve a successful, healthy, happy family. They wonder what values should be taught, what should be stressed? How should they teach these values? How can they pass them on?

Fortunately the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services gathered a group of scientists together in order to gain a consensus on the qualities that successful families share. The list includes clear, open communication; encouragement of each member’s uniqueness while cultivating a sense of belonging to the whole; having a strong commitment to their family; sharing a value system and moral code; being socially connected; being structured yet flexible; showing appreciation for one another; being aware of each member’s responsibilities to the group; and sharing time together.

If these are the qualities that make successful, happy families, then how can you as a parent teach and pass them on? Stephen Covey, in his book, “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families,” suggests that families create a family mission statement which gives a clear and compelling vision of what you and your family are all about. It would include all of your shared values as well as articulate a common vision.

Creating a family mission statement is fun and interesting and will help you and your family stay on track through the turbulence of life by time and space. It will also stimulate progress towards the values you hold, helping each of you to preserving the core of what you are and what you believe. It will serve as glue, holding you together in ways that transcend and will help adapt your daily actions to insure success.

To start the task of writing the family mission statement, sit down with everyone in your family. Make a list of words that describe the type of family you all want to be. This will give you a wonderful opportunity to have a direct conversation about what is most important to each of you. Helpful questions to ask would be: What words best describe our family? What is most important to us? What are our strengths as a family? What sayings best capture us? Take turns writing down the answers.

While you are identifying your family’s core values it is important that they be what your values actually are, not what you think they should be. In order to find out this out, ask yourself, “Even if I had to punish my child for violating any one of these values, even if I had to deny them something that would bring them pleasure, I would hold to it.” Your values will only “work” if you can hold on to them when it’s inconvenient to do so.

Over the period of a week or so, tweak the answers to come up with a list of the ten or twenty best. Take time to improve the wording. Then get together once again in order to pare your list down to the five most essential core values you all agree on. Arrange them in a manner that is catchy and somewhat dramatic.

Now you are ready for the final phase of constructing your family’s mission statement. Have one more brain-storming session in which you pick a symbol that captures the spirit of your family. Then get some poster board on which the statement will be made. Make the actual drafting of the statement a special occasion which will create a pleasant memory for all. Lastly, post your family’s mission statement in a prominent place. For years to come you and your family can point to the mantel or wall and say, “This is what our family is about; this is a written ideal of what we want our family to be.” And, when life hits you in random and unexpected ways, you and your family will have your own framework which will hold you together, making all of you more likely to succeed.


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