Why now is the time to make your family a “mission statement”

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The past year and a half has been long, difficult and logistically crazy for families with young children at home.

While the pandemic is certainly not over, many parents feel tremendous relief as we move closer to what looks (for now, at least) like a more typical school year. Groups such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have called on children across the country to return to class. At the same time, many parents who have not yet returned to the office to work are likely to do so to some extent this fall.

While being able to fall back into old routines might sound like darn glorious, economist and parenting guru Emily Oster suggests doing so without stopping to consider the “big picture” of your family is a mistake.

Oster’s new book, “The Family Firm: A Data-Driven Guide to Better Decision Making in the Early School Years,” provides a framework for parents of children ages 5 to 12 when it comes to taking care. decisions on everything from nutrition to when kids should have their first phone. She thinks this is a time when many families would benefit from creating mission statements – and she has a how-to guide on what they should involve.

“With all the terrible things that have happened over the past 18 months, there is an opportunity, as we come out of this, to have important conversations even in families where routines have been established for a long time,” he said. the author told HuffPost. “What are the things we used to do that we want to come back to? What are the things we used to do before we thought, “You know what? In fact, I didn’t miss it. It is a real opportunity for this kind of reflection to take place.

What your family mission statement should include

The purpose of a family mission statement is really to help you and anyone else you are a parent with express your great high-level values. But Oster does not see it simply as a high expression of ideals. Instead, it’s a handy document that will help your family sort through parenting decisions every day.

“When I talk about creating the big family image, I’m talking about these general principles,” Oster writes in “The Family Firm”. “But I’m also talking about confronting: ‘What is Thursday night like?’ “

For starters, everyone involved in parenting in your family should get a piece of paper. Write a comprehensive family mission statement in one sentence. Next, write down three main goals for your children.

“Big life goals,” Oster writes in his book. “Not like, ‘Use a fork better’, even if you desperately, desperately want it. “

After that, it’s time to think about yourself. What are the three priorities you do you want to make sure you have time for? Write them down.

Next, list three must-do activities for your family most days of the week. Oster’s, for example, involves eating at least one meal with the kids, doing work, and being there for bedtime.

Finally, list three activities that you consider to be must-do on weekends. Sports? Spending time with the family? Religious activities?

“There’s an important distinction between woo-woo, kind of a large-scale family mission statement and really delving into some of those details,” she told HuffPost.

Why is it worth it

Oster wrote “The Family Firm” before the pandemic, though it has, of course, become a staple (albeit controversial) resource for many families over the past year and a half.

While her new book does not address COVID-19 or its impact on families and family decision-making, Oster said she believes family mission statements are more important than ever at this time of profound transition for so many parents and children. (In non-COVID times, she suggests creating a mission statement as your child starts school and reviewing it as they grow older.)

“The whole idea of ​​the mission statement is really to bring out your most important priorities to everyone in the family, and I think the reason that is really important is often, in families, these things are not. say, “Oster said. “We have this idea that we all love each other, so of course we kind of agree on our family’s mission. Sometimes that is not true.

If you are co-parenting with someone else, you might find that what you wrote down in this exercise is quite different, especially if you both come out of the pandemic with new values ​​and priorities. Don’t let that scare you, Oster said, adding that what you really don’t want to do is act on different priorities without first talking about them and realizing they’re different.

“The point of expressing our views, even if they lead to disagreement, is that it gives us the opportunity to discuss why we disagree,” she said. Once you have clarified your own parenting priorities, you can have a clearer, calmer discussion about ways you can come together.

“We’re pretty averse to conflict, for reasonable reasons, in a way we’re not always at work,” Oster said. “But I see it as advancing the potential conflict, but bringing it into a quieter time where we’re not angry.”


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