Friday, September 3, 2010

What makes my family work

A year or so ago, our friends, the Chandlers, who now live in Seattle, had read a book called The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families. In reading this book, they discovered and shared with us the value of developing a family mission statement. At the time, I just thought that was a great practice that maybe would come in handy some day. That time has come for us, as we have found 2010 to be a year of significant decisions.

So I got the book from the library and was immediately taken with the idea of the family mission statement. There are lots of ideas in that book that would be great in application in a family. The development of a family mission statement just seems to be the one that makes the others come into clearer focus. By coming up with some solid priorities and qualities that shape your family, the rest of your family's life - activities and pursuits - seems to fall more clearly into line with the purpose already defined.

So to get started, Erick and I just brainstormed about things that we want to be sure maintain value in our family. Things like security, creativity, laughter, generosity. Then we talked to Sophia about it. Her first response was that we should be a family of princesses. Not exactly the insightful tidbit we were hoping for, but then she came back with, "We each get to be who we are." Seriously, those were her words. My eyes flew open, and I said, "Yes!" So we added that in and came up with something over a date night. It took me a while to figure out why, but I never really liked what we came up with. Then I realized that I didn't like it because it didn't sound like us. It read like the mission of a corporation, and we're anything but business-like. So, I restructured it a little, and now I'm unveiling our family statement.

In our family, we each get to be our own person, expressing our individuality while respecting one another and recognizing each person's contribution. Our family works hard to show compassion and responsibility for ourselves and to others. We want to live in a home filled with love, security and laughter. Most of all, our family loves one another and loves God out loud in action and word.

I think that's all pretty self-explanatory. It is to us, so that's all that really matters, I suppose. Sophia absolutely loves it. We have read it to her several times, and she talks about what the words mean. Of course she's most excited about the first sentence since that was her contribution.

The beauty of this is that it will change and evolve as our family changes. As Sophia grows older, she will likely add a few adjustments, as will we... But it feels good to have some clarity about who we are.

I highly recommend the book, largely because this process has been so meaningful for our family. I am pretty sure that it would bring similar benefits to most families. And even if it was a harder process because of differences in priorities or understanding of them, it seems like a good idea to be having those discussions while still in theory rather than in practice.... I'm just saying. If you do, let me know. I think it would be fascinating and revealing to know exactly what our friends' families are about. It would help us all understand one another just a little better. That's never a bad thing.

So, to continue my feel-good message, let me add a little Roots Love My Family for your listening and viewing pleasure.


  1. I ditto, Brian. Thanks for sharing, too. Definitely going to get the book and ponder our own family mission statement.