A few years back my husband and I realized that our family life looked nothing like we imagined. We were overscheduled, disconnected, and burnt out from the busy. We knew for things to change we had slow down, re-establish our values, and identify the gap between what our life was like and what we hoped it would be. So decided to write a family mission statement.
It turned out to be a bit harder than I thought. While I found lots of information about why it was important, I couldn’t find much on how to do it. Eventually, I created a step by step process that my husband I followed and then shared on Circles of Faith. To get started we set aside a few hours, grabbed oversized sheets of paper, markers, pens, along with a cup a tea, and our Mission Statement Discussion Sheet. We talked about our passions, our values, and the things we wanted to accomplish.
After numerous discussions, we still didn’t have a polished paragraph that we felt was ready to share with the world. Something was missing. So I went back online and started to look into how well-known companies came up with their missions statements. When I did, I kept bumping into the concept of culture and why it was so crucial to a successful organization.
That’s what we were missing! A basic understanding of what we wanted the culture of our family to be.
So what is culture?
Culture is the heart of an organization and yes, even a family. According to Wikipedia, organizational culture is the “behavior of humans within an organization and the meaning that people attach to those behaviors.”
Culture is what organizations become known for.
For example, Patagonia is known for their passion for the planet, Google for employee perks and stimulating work environment, and Chipotle for their simple and healthy food with integrity.
What does culture have to do with families?
A family culture is the norms, values, beliefs, and customs of people that are passed down from generation to generation.
Just as in business, family culture refers to how a family relates to one another, works together, and achieves goals. Family culture is the DNA of a family. It’s the what of, “That’s just the way we do things.” Just like a fingerprint, it's what makes your family unique.
Why is culture important?
Research shows that family culture plays an even more influential role in shaping a child than parenting styles do.
It is not a question of whether or not family culture exists but whether or not you control it. << Click to Tweet
In the workplace, healthy culture retains employees. In a family, healthy culture maintains engagement and promotes belonging. Through ups and downs, your family culture will tether you and your children to your values and one another.
What people want in their workplace is the same as what members want in their family. To be a part of a winning team, something that works. To contribute to visible, tangible results and to feel the excitement of being a part of something bigger than themselves. An intentionally created culture within a family provides that.
For my husband and I to have a mission statement that truly represented what our family could and should be, we had to determine what kind of culture we wanted.
If you are interested doing the same here's our suggestion:
- Set aside dedicated time with your spouse.
- Gather pen and paper for taking notes from your conversation.
- Reflect on your past together. Talk about your favorite memories growing up and where you spen most of your time as a child. Was it at home or a friend’s? Why? Recognize the sights, sounds, and smells represent HOME.
- Consider what others are doing and how it impacts you. When we go to their homes, what makes us feel welcome? What can you always count on when you’re with them?
- Determine what you want you family to be known for. There are things that you as a couple or a family are already building into your culture. Decide whether they are things you’d like to maintain or change.
- Brainstorm about what that means practically for your family. You might have to make changes to your schedule to accommodate the things that matter most to you. Implementing your cultural ideas may also mean changing the way you spend money are well as what you say yes and no to.
In addition to our values and core passions, these answers became the raw material of our mission statement. Just like a business, ministry, or organization, our mission statement, when adhered to would produce the culture we desired.
Want to start cultivating your family's culture?
Download this free Family Culture Discussion Sheet. It includes questions that will allow you to explore who you are as a family and challenge you to dream about what you could be together.