My husband and I are in the process of writing a mission statement, has anyone out there ever done that? It is a truly interesting process, and for those of you who are interested, I thought I would outline some steps regarding creating a family mission statement of your own.
First of all, sit down with your spouse or significant other and talk to them about this. Discuss with each other the fundamentals of life, such as: What are the attitudes in our family regarding money? What do we feel the place or importance of education is in our family? How does our family regard religion or spirituality, and how does this play into our everyday lives? What is the role of activities outside of our family? Is the environment extremely important to us and how do we reflect that? Is helping other people or participating in our neighborhood, church or synagogue, or community essential? For those of you who are parents, do you have a view of childhood development or loving guidance that really plays center stage in your daily life?
It is an eye-opening experience to have these conversations with your significant other! It can also take a long time, and this is not a step to be rushed. Really talk about these things, and think about them and ponder them. What is most important to you both as you shape your family?
Then talk to the other adults in your house if you have extended family living with you. Some sources say to then sit down with your children with the value statements you and your partner came up with and see what they have to say. Some mothers I have spoken with talk about how you can ask your children for adjectives that they would use to describe the family, what the children think is most important to mother and father, what they think about their family.
I think this step could be quite head-oriented and somewhat difficult to grasp for the under –nine crowd. Perhaps something better for you and your partner may be to set your mission statement as you together create your family environment (and then change the mission statement to include your children’s ideas as they grow and mature, of course!) So I guess the inclusion of children, for me personally , would really have to depend on the ages and maturity of the children involved. Some older children may have valuable input, or at least a specific idea or example of something where you could tie this to a bigger value for your mission statement, whereas a three or four year old probably will just parrot whatever their big brother or sister has to say! I know this is not a popular view nowadays, in the age of democratic and consensual family living, but I thought I would throw it out there that you really are in charge of setting the tone for your own home first and foremost! As always, take what resonates from my writings and ideas and adapt it to your own family.
However you decide to do this process, you would then write down the value statements or ideas that family members come up with in sentences, as many sentences as you need. You could then see if any similarities exist among the value statements where you could group them under one heading so to speak. For example, “health” to you may include physical health, spirituality practices, alternative health care, eating styles and communication styles, breastfeeding and attachment parenting.
For older children some families provide follow-up sentences to each value sentence that explains how this value would be implemented – for example, if living simply is a strong value, perhaps examples of follow-up statements would include buying used whenever possible, considering the reduction of packaging in purchasing decisions, treating the earth kindly, involvement in environmental justice kinds of activities, etc.
Once you have your family’s mission statement you can put it somewhere and frame it for easy reference – do not just tuck it away in a drawer! This should be the touchstone of discerning what is essential for you and your family. It should help you determine what you will participate in and what you won’t, and how you will live.
Mission statements are living documents that need to updated as your family members grow and mature; set regular dates to review, revise, re-frame your thoughts.
Perhaps all or part of this process may appeal to you and your family; please leave a comment in the comment section below !
Peaceful family living to you and yours,