Parenting: Developing A Family Mission Statement
Knowing Why You are Developing a Family Mission Statement
Life is about choices. When you intentionally make the right decisions, so many things will go well in the life of your family – never perfect but far better. When you make the wrong choices, the fall out in your world at home can be severe. You add sorrow upon sorrow to your family experience. Interesting. There is a third category…those who fail to choose. They will lose by default. Letting life take its course in your family without setting priorities and goals leaves you and your children helpless to the cultural current. Not good for you or your family.
Verses for Your Family Mission Statement
Three verses come to mind when considering developing a Family Mission Statement. Joshua 24:15 reads, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” The parents set the tone in the home and set the trend for the future. You need to live what you believe. You need to make the choice. You need to put God first and buy in at a deep heart level. In so doing, you make a commitment to what’s really important.
Then, you as parents need to pass this authentic faith on by example and instruction – intentionally. Philippians 4:9 reads, “whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice – and the God of peace will be with you.” I call this verse the parent’s prayer. You challenge your kids to live what they have seen and heard from you about life and faith, and God and His peace will be with them. You need to walk your talk to make a lasting impression.
Further, Proverbs 22:6 reads, “train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not turn from it.” Talk to them about how to live, what’s right and wrong, how to treat people, what’s important in life and where God fits into the grand scheme of things. Teach them deliberately. It will stick when they see it first and then hear it second. That’s the heart of impacting the next generation.
A Family Mission Statement (FMS) is a vision for what you want your family to be. Done well, it will help shape the next generation. It is an expression of your core values in life and your primary relationships. It will reflect your priorities – what’s important to you. It is a merger of what you believe life and family are about.
Keep in mind that in your FMS, you are not focusing on describing who you are as a family now as much as whom you want to be as a family in the future. It is true though the latter grows out of the former. A FMS becomes your goals – the target to aim for as a family. It is describing what it is you want and then inviting everyone to get on the same page.
Ultimately, the best FMS has to be something that you as husband and wife are very passionate about; if you are a single parent, even more so. Don’t create one “for the kids” that doesn’t first and foremost grab you at a heart level. Your FMS needs to carry such weight in you that you pray that some version of it will be in the life of your children’s children long into the future. It is part of your legacy.
It is out of this deep conviction about your FMS and your enthusiasm and commitment to it that you will be able to transfer the implications of the FMS into your family and Lord-willing into the lives of all your kids before they leave home. It is said, “the fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree”. A FMS is your tree.
Though critical for deep parental buy in, your goal is to try to get as much ownership of the FMS as possible. Trying to get your kids engaged in the process will be easier with age. Get their input to the level that they are able. Please don’t wait until your children are old enough to participate before you develop a FMS. Once you have a child in arms, get started. You can always get their input and rewrite a more child-friendly version as they are ready. Revisit your FMS every year or two. Now let’s get started.
The Process of Developing a Family Mission Statement
SET UP FAMILY DISCUSSION TIMES: Have two or three 30-minute discussions (not longer) to explain to them the FMS purpose – what you want to do, why a FMS is important, and to begin getting their thoughts. Write everything down. Try to get it in their words the ways to express what they want in a family. You are looking for 3-5 traits or descriptions that you want your family to be. Pray together as a family asking God to lead you.
DEVELOP A GOOD SET OF QUESTIONS: Here is a collection of questions you could use to get the discussion about family goals started. Use them during the different times that you discuss your FMS.
1. What do you like about our family?
2. What don’t you like about our family?
3. Why do you like being part of our family?
4. What is different about our family?
5. What other family would you like to be a part of? Why?
6. What is important to our family?
7. What kind of family do we want to be?
DETERMINE WHAT CATEGORIES YOU WANT TO INCLUDE: While you are free to include anything you want to in your FMS, here is a basic guideline. It is wise to include your views about God, others and you as a family.
1. God- Who we are in relation to God as a family. Describe where God should fit in. How important is God to our family?
2. Others- Who we are in relation to others outside our family. Describe how we will impact our world. How important is caring for others? How do you want your family to be in the lives of others?
3. Your Family- Who we are in relation to each other within the family? Describe how we want these relationships to be. How important will my family be to me and me to my family?
4. Other Possible topics: Money and finances, possessions and property, time and priorities, nature and animals…etc.
5. Be careful about adding too much that is really secondary. A FMS is not a collection of everything you believe or will teach to your children. It is your core values. Remember – less is often more.
INTEGRATE THE YOUNGER KIDS AS IS WISE: While you want to include the thoughts of a 4-8 year old, don’t get bogged down with trying to get them to say more than they are able. You don’t want to polarize or frustrate the older children by being too inclusive. Ask open-ended questions. Listen. Keep their involvement short. Write your FMS for the 11 and 12 year olds to buy in and the younger ones will fall in line as they mature.
SIMPLIFY THE INVOLVEMENT OF CHILDREN: Find ways for them to choose between two options. For the younger kids, it is important to use a list of attitudes or actions that could be part of a description of your family. Let the kids chose what they think are important ones. Here is a sample list – broaden with your own thoughts. How important is ___________________?
Kindness, Obedience, Being Engaged with Life, Caring, Cooperation, Being a Team, Forgiving, Reaching Out, Standing Together, Fun-loving, Being Respectful, Unity, Patience, Encouraging, Being Supportive, Being Helpful, Resolving Problems, Being Active,
CHOOSING A FAMILY VERSE OF SCRIPTURE: Though largely in the hands of parents to find and suggest a few possibilities, it is helpful for the children as much as they are able to understand the verses and give their thoughts on the 2 or 3 to choose from. Be sure to use a modern translation for more understandable wording.
PARENTS HAVE THE FINAL RESONSIBILITY: As parents, you have been able to guide and influence the process as children have brought up suggestions. You are responsible for putting together the final product for acceptance and clarification. Tweak the wording into clear and simple language but not in anyway to dumb it down.
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