I Made a Mission Statement With My Family—Here’s Why It Works

I wanted to build stronger connections with my husband and teens. We made a family mission statement together, and it's helped us all be kinder to each other.

Mother helping son write

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If there’s one thing I’ve been focused on since the pandemic hit, it’s building real connections with my family. Like so many other parents, I was concerned about how much connection was lost during isolation. In my house, we were physically together, but we were missing each other as we tried to connect with the outside world.

As a parenting journalist working on my first parenting book, The Castle Method, and witnessing, as we all did, the chaos and disruption of lives, I began looking at research on belonging and connection within families. I wanted to find ways to not only help other parents, but myself and my own family as well.

The questions on my mind: how can we rebuild belonging within our family and how can we make sure all our values aren’t forgotten? That’s especially important as we draw near to the end of the year. The stress and heaviness will unquestionably find its way into our lives during the holiday season and often make that connection even more difficult. I wanted to begin anew and bring back belonging to the forefront as we headed into the new year.

That’s when the idea of a family mission statement came to me.

Corporations, schools, and other large organizations rely on mission statements to keep their communities together, to set and understand expectations, to prepare for unforeseen circumstances and difficult times, and to achieve the goals the organization is founded on. 

Why doesn’t the most important group in so many of our lives—our family—deserve just as much thought and effort? One study, funded by the Barna Group, found that while 7 out of 10 parents say they have an explicit set of values for their family, only 3 out of 10 have those values in writing, as a mission statement or otherwise.

Feeling as though you belong to a family doesn't just happen on its own, it requires intentionality. It requires organization. A family mission statement can provide that structure, that foundation. From speaking to experts for my book, I became convinced family mission statements can work and even added an entire section about it.

I decided to introduce the concept of the family mission statement to my husband and two boys, now 13 and 14 years old. And while my kids are used to family meetings as an organizational tool within our own family, they didn't think a family mission statement was needed. I convinced them otherwise and we went for it.

Create a Family Mission Statement All Together

The first step in creating a family mission statement is making sure you work on it together as a family. Research shows that if you, as parents, involve your kids in decision-making it can increase their satisfaction, cooperation, and confidence. Kids will feel a sense of belonging as their voices are heard, their ideas are accepted, and thoughtful reflection becomes the norm.

Before we brought our kids into the conversation, my husband and I talked about what values and expectations we share as a couple and would like to incorporate into our family. Some questions we asked ourselves: What do we value in the growth and development of our family? What matters to us as parents? What matters to our kids? What do we expect our family to be? How can we create security and a sense of belonging in our family system and in our values?

My husband and I talked about how we want to feel within our family. How we treat people as a family. What we enjoy doing as a family. What our values and goals are. We talked about expectations and how we will show love and respect as a family. But we encouraged our kids to share their ideas and thoughts, too. 

Put Your Ideas on Paper

Next, we got more concrete. I asked the boys to write down some of our specific ideas. We created a bulleted list together of the themes we wanted to focus on as a family. Here's a look at what matters to us:

  • Kindness and compassion
  • Lifelong learning
  • Respect
  • Spiritual and religious values
  • Family work ethic
  • Family time
  • Financial values
  • Family health and fitness
  • Family tech time
  • Inspiration and creativity

Families can create their own list and add ideas on how they can each fulfill every bullet.

Make It Unique to Your Family’s Needs

There is no one way to create a family mission statement. It does not have to be a serious document, but it should embody the spirit of your distinctive family. Each family's mission statement will look and feel different based on culture, religious ideals, and unique family dynamics.

Most importantly, have fun and enjoy the process of creating your family mission statement. Throughout the meeting, the entire family should discuss each part of the mission statement so that everyone understands what the intentions are. Once the document is complete, you can decorate it as a family and hang it up. Ours hangs in our laundry room, a place in our home where we can all see it but only our family members can access.

Treat It Like an Evolving Process

Just a few days ago, my 14-year-old son said to me, "Thanks for picking me up, Mom. I really had a great time with my friends." In return, I said, "Thanks for saying thanks." Then my son smiled gently and said, "Kindness is how we roll."

Expect that you and your children will live your mission every day to the best of your ability. But sticking to it can be a process. Since the creation of ours, we each have referred to it at least once a month to either remind ourselves of our values or to reiterate our mission out loud.

Of course, there will be slip ups, so practice compassion as you live out your family mission statement to the best of your ability. Be understanding of mistakes and miscommunications.

And remember, mission statements can evolve. Be open to new values and expectations; as the world evolves and kids grow older we must be open to change.

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