“What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family.”
Mother Teresa had a point.
But it can be tough to feel all that love when we’re tired and overwhelmed and our children just won’t listen….
We require a little extra motivation.
We need purpose and a consciously defined family culture.
A family culture? What does that even mean?
Family culture means the values, rules and traditions that govern a family’s life and routine.
Every family has its own dynamic: a distinct way in which they tackle daily activities, solve common problems, set family goals and relate to one another.
Yet, how many of us consciously think about these important matters?
I’d bet very few.
Perhaps we give it some thought before our first child is born.
But once we’re “in the trenches”, it’s survival mode. Who’s waking up with the baby? Did you pack those diapers? Is there food in the fridge? What am I packing for the kids’ lunch tomorrow? Who’s taking Theo to soccer practice? Who’s helping Claire with her homework? And so on….
Ironically, these are precisely the moments you wonder what the heck you’re “fighting” for.
Why is it important to have a family culture?
A family culture is created whether we intend to or not.
Even if we don’t make conscious decisions and openly discuss our values, norms and traditions within our household, we still create a family culture. Only by default. And one likely based on our own experiences as a child — rejecting what we perceived as negative and incorporating what we treasured or admired.
Do we really want to let our family culture be created by chance? Or do we want to make conscious decisions that will bring consistency and help us connect with our children?
Here are my top 3 reasons why a family culture is so important (and why you should give it some serious thought):
1. Having a Common Vision
“Vision unites, gives focus, dominates all inner conversations and inspires greatness” (Miller 1995).
As sentient beings, we thrive when we know what our core values are. A clear vision inspires and motivates us. A sense of purpose and connection brings meaning, and helps guide decisions that will affect our children and our family’s future.
When it comes to family culture, often times we know what we don’t want, but we’re not clear on what we want or why. And if you are raising kids with a partner, you likely have different backgrounds, and have certainly been through different experiences.
A common vision can provide much needed consistency to a family, that so-called “united front”.
2. Defining the Family System
We always assume certain roles within our families.
How conscious are those decisions?
Sometimes, not at all. And that’s likely when problems arise.
Why am I the one cooking every night? I hate folding laundry… Couldn’t she help with the homework? Can’t he take out the trash for once?
Uncertainty or dissatisfaction regarding our family roles create disharmony and imbalance in the family system.
It is easier to define how each family member can best contribute to the family’s shared vision when we pause and have meaningful conversations about what we want and why we want it. Most importantly, everyone feels heard and validated.
3. Making Conscious Decisions
What do you do when your family faces a new challenge? A baby’s sleep problem, a rebellious teenager or a move for a new job…
It is tough to make decisions when you don’t have a system to help you evaluate different options. You might look for external guidance: family, friends, Google, parenting books and blogs, Facebook groups, etc. Could it possibly get more overwhelming?
On the other hand, knowing your family culture can help you navigate the endless amount of (often contradicting) advice, tune out the noise, and follow your heart and intuition.
By aligning your decisions and actions with your values, you’ll find more joy and ease in your daily life. And much needed inspiration for trying times.
Is this in line with your vision? What works for you and your family?
Need inspiration to get started? Check out our Family Manifesto. Print it out, add your family name, put it on your fridge, discuss it with your family, modify it and make it your own. Do what feels right to you. But take action and use this as a starting point.
And since we started with a quote, I’ll leave you with another one:
“It’s not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are.”
PS: We’ll be exploring the Family Culture topic in other posts by family bloggers and parenting experts. Stay tuned!