Despite the pandemic that has changed our lives at home and at work over the past year, it has also provided us with a perspective that would have been hard to imagine in a pre-COVID-19 world. In my best and most hopeful days, I can see how the pandemic has forced my family to slow down their increasingly hectic schedule. It got us outside more for bike rides, hikes, and backyard barbecues. He also highlighted the things that are vital to our physical and mental health and the things that hurt us to have to do without them.
With some end in sight (or at least one start end in sight), my husband, my son and I talked about what we want our lives to be like after. My 10 year old has commented on several occasions how strange it would be to return to life before, when we walked into crowds with bare faces and our mere presence did not pose a risk to our extended family.
But I suspect it won’t seem strange for very long. I wonder if, in months or even weeks, the lessons we are learning right now will fade, gradually disintegrate, like bad dreams do. If we had to go through this nightmare, I at least want to hang on to its lessons.
Creating a family mission statement can help us prioritize what we have learned to value during this time and guide our decision making in the future. Where do we want to go, who do we want to see, what do we want to accomplish and how do we want to treat others?
If you also want to create a family mission statement, here are a few steps to get you started.
Convene a brainstorming session
Of course, the end goal is to create the mission statement and then try to stick to it, but getting the whole family together and involving them in the brainstorming is just as important as the end product. In order to truly capture the essence of the whole family, everyone’s voice needs to be heard (assuming they’re old enough to participate).
Brainstorm the official family mission statement. Pick a time when everyone tends to be well rested, well fed, and not busy with work or school, such as a Saturday morning or late Sunday afternoon. To make it fun and tactile, get out brainstorming paper and pencils for everyone, a whiteboard with dry-erase markers, or colorful Post-it notes for everyone to jot down ideas. At the very least, everyone should be present and have the opportunity to have their voices heard.
Before you start to brainstorm ideas for inclusion in the mission statement, explain why you want to create one and what you want it to accomplish. The statement should ultimately sum up your family’s hearts values and act as a guiding presence when making decisions both big and small.
Core family values can include social, moral, religious, professional or recreational values. Some examples include generosity, honesty, respect, teamwork, patience, and friendliness. If you don’t know where to start, this list of family values from LoveToKnow will provide a good start.
It’s also helpful to get everyone thinking by asking questions to start the conversation, like these, from the Leader Organization in Me:
1. What is the purpose of our family?
2. What kinds of things do we want to do?
3. What kind of feeling do we want to have in our house?
4. What kind of relationship do we want to have with each other?
5. What are our family’s priorities?
6. What are our responsibilities as family members?
7. How can we contribute to society as a family and become more service oriented?
Write your mission statement
As everyone in the family reflects on the values that are important to them, it’s good to look for recurring themes, but also keep in mind that there are no right or wrong answers here. While honesty may be the most important for one person, generosity can be at the top of someone else’s list. One family member may enjoy celebrating each other’s successes while another appreciates being open-minded to try new things.
You don’t need to reduce it to a single value, or even a few values. Each family member should feel represented in the final mission statement. When your brainstorming session is over, the parent (s) can start writing the statement itself, with input from the children. Once everyone is happy with the final copy, post it somewhere where everyone can see it, like the refrigerator or on a dry-erase board or decorative board.
Remember, this statement is not set in stone. The values we prioritize change over time, so make it a habit to review the mission statement once a year (or whenever you feel appropriate) to see if there are any adjustments you would like to make. .