How to Improve Your Present Culture by Examining Your Past
When I first got married, the way I went about my day, solved problems, and addressed conflict was in direct relation to what I experienced growing up. Just as my parents passed culture to me, I was passing it onto my family.
I was operating in a default culture. I was doing many things because “That’s just the way I’ve always done it.”, There wasn’t necessarily a problem with WHAT I was doing with my now family, but WHY I was doing it that way.
Culture is the norms, values, beliefs, and customs of people that are passed down from generation to generation, often without us even realizing it.
To design and build a unique culture for our family, my husband and I had to examine our past. It was vital to determine what we wanted to bring into the future and what we wanted to leave behind.
My husband played outside with his friends every day after school, and his mom would have home a cooked meal waiting for him when it was time to come inside. Then he and his brother were expected to do chores when they were done eating. They went to church on all the major holidays as did many of their extended family.
Growing up, my brother and I played outside and did chores too. My family took frequent road trips, were involved in our local baseball community, and played card games together. We were very active in our church community and went to attended services every Sunday.
Many of the experiences Carl and I had that were similar were an obvious fit for our children and us. Without much effort, our new family resembled the ones we grew up in. However, the areas that were different warranted a discussion. What were that customs and traditions that didn’t come naturally to us to both of us that we wanted to show in up our lives?
You have the power to design and build your unique family culture! << CLICK TO TWEET
When you take a look at your past you:
- Recognize the default culture that is at work in your life. You will be able to celebrate the good things that you’ve experienced but also identify the negative things that can be let go of.
- Avoid assumptions and therefore avoid conflict. For example, I thought Carl would do things just like my dad. I assumed he’d be home for dinner every night, work in the yard on the weekends, and plan family vacations. He wasn’t anything like my dad nor was our family life like mine growing up. If I continued to have unrealistic expectations, I would become angry and eventually bitter.
- Set yourself up for success. Once you have recognized what you want to bring forward and what you want to leave behind you can create an environment that facilitates those traditions and customs.
By examining your past, you can break away from the comfortable and easy to forge new paths for your family. << CLICK TO TWEET
To get started set aside dedicated time. It is unlikely that you will just ‘find time’ or get around to it when you have nothing else to. Make this a priority!
Ask yourself questions like:
- Where did you spend most of your time as a child? At home? At a Friends? Why?
- What are some of your favorite memories and traditions growing up?
- What could you always count on as a child?
- What were you missing as a child or young adult?
This process may be painful for you. What’s important is not to camp out here and hang on to regret. Much like in assessing your present, this process is about discovering what you have to work with and creating a successful plan for the future.
After this discussion, you will be able to determine what traditions and custom you want to bring forward and which ones you want to leave behind. You can also mix and match your family practices or create brand new ones.
I have created the Family Culture Discussion Sheet that covers the questions I mentioned above plus a handful more that are designed to propel you into the future. DOWNLOAD IT FOR FREE.
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