Fostering a sense of belonging in a family is an important part of cultivating a positive family culture. It is vital for our children that our homes are a space where they feel safe, connected, loved and accepted unconditionally.
Children need to feel they belong. And they need to feel that they are a part of something bigger than themselves – something important, and special. It is this sense of belonging that builds resilience in our children. It helps them develop healthy self esteem and self identity and gives them the confidence they need to manage challenges, to solve problems and to ask for help when they need it.
But a positive family culture doesn’t just happen on its own. Building a healthy, loving home – and family – requires intentionality. It requires us as parents to set clear guidelines – a pathway for us and our children based on our own big vision for what we want our family to look and feel like. And a great way to do this is by creating a family mission statement.
A mission statement is a short summary of what matters most to you as a family. The principles that guide you. Creating a mission statement together is a powerful way to reflect upon your values as a family and gives everyone a clear understanding of what you stand for and expect of each other as a family.
Having a shared vision – a clear purpose, values and goals – as a family, helps children and parents feel connected to each other, and creates a sense of belonging and unity. A mission statement is a roadmap that lays out not only where you are headed as family, but also how you will get there. And that’s because it can help to guide your parenting decisions, as well as your child’s decisions as they grow. It provides them (and you) with a very clear framework and set of expectations to follow based upon your agreed upon values and beliefs.
If your kids are old enough to participate, I recommend you do this activity together as a family. Set aside a time to discuss your mission statement, free from distractions – the process of discussing your values is just as important as the finished mission statement itself! This is a time for in depth, meaningful and intentional discussion, so don’t worry too much what it looks like. The most important thing is that you are taking time to have the conversation!
Some questions to consider during your discussion:
It’s important that you listen to everyone during this process and write ALL ideas down. Because everyone deserves to have their voice heard during this process – even the smallest members of the family.
Once you’ve written down everyone’s ideas, it’s time to create a draft mission statement. Think together about which ideas are the MOST important to you as a family. Perhaps choose the top 5-6 values you all agree are important to you as a family. And then pay attention to any recurring themes, ideas or words that continue to come up. Find the ones that fit best with your family values and allow you to live them out in your daily actions.
To help guide you during this process and to provide structure your mission statement, you might like to choose an opening line like:
Once you’ve created your draft I want you to take some space from it to really consider whether it feels right for your family. Wait a day or two. Think about it. Notice how things in your family feel. How are you relating to each other? Once you’ve taken a break, come back together and read your mission statement aloud. Are you still happy with it? Does it truly reflect your family’s values? If the answer is yes, great! Now it’s time to finalise it. If the answer is no, then make any necessary tweaks and changes first!
Now it’s time to put it all together. Displaying your finalised mission statement in a prominent place in your home is a great way to remind everyone of what’s important to you as a family and foster a sense of togetherness, belonging and shared purpose. If you’re a creative family you might like to make a poster together, or you may prefer to type your mission statement out on the computer or use a program or app to create a fun printable version.
Once your mission statement is completed, be sure to display it somewhere everyone in the family can see it. Try to choose a high traffic area in your home or a very visible spot where everyone tends to gather. For example, you may like to display your mission statement in your entry way near the front door, in your living room, or on the wall above your dining or kitchen table so you can see it while you eat meals together.
A mission statement is not set in stone. It’s not an unchanging, static document – it can’t be! It will change and grow as your family changes and grows. This is especially true if you complete your mission statement while your children are very young, or if you add new family members to your crew! So it’s always a good idea to come back to your mission statement periodically and review whether it is still an accurate reflection of your family values and goals – you may even like to make it an annual family tradition.
And remember, there is no right or wrong way to complete a mission statement. Since no two families are the same, no two mission statements will be the same either. Your mission statement is unique to you and your family, so try to let go of expectations about how it “should” look and just do what works for your family.
And remember, the process is often more important than the finished product. Just the process of discussing what matters to you as a family can create a huge shift in the way your family interacts with each other – and the world.