Stop ‘Missionizing’ — Making Your Family Values and Beliefs Short, Sweet, and Actionable

Defining your family values and beliefs is an important step in creating a strong family culture, but establishing those values and beliefs, and implementing rules and procedures, takes effort and patience, especially when getting the children involved.

When Dale first came to me with the idea of having a family “mission statement,” I was skeptical. Our kids weren’t even in middle school yet; how were they going to understand a mission statement? And I never liked when Dale treated our family like a business. It took the joy out of being a mom.

Over time, I got Dale to stop “missionizing” — a term I still tease him with to this day! — and we turned the focus towards our kids and the family values and beliefs we wanted them to believe in, our family began to take shape.

Defining Your Family Values and Beliefs

When Dale and I decided to make a list of the family values and beliefs that we wanted to teach our children, we were happy to see a lot of overlap — we really did believe in the same things — but our combined list was really long. It seemed that we believed in too much. The whole purpose of identifying our shared values was to communicate them to our kids, so clearly we had to narrow down the list to the key values that provided the foundation of our beliefs. We had to shorten it.

I knew that, given their ages, our children could only process and comprehend a handful of items. I knew less would be best, but cutting down our list was difficult. Still, we needed to keep the list of values short and simple, because that would allow us to make it actionable for the kids and for the family as a whole.

Here’s what the final list of our family values and beliefs became:

  • Honesty. To ourselves and to others.
  • Positiveness. In ourselves, in everyone, and in everything.
  • Leadership. Lead by our actions; be a positive influence on others.
  • Respect. The Golden Rule: treat others how we want to be treated.
  • Integrity. Our words and actions match.
  • Courage. Stand up for what is right and just.

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Ready to make your list of family values and beliefs? Utilize these Discussion Guides to help you get started!

Author: Monica Vernon
Monica, a middle school teacher, wife, and professed imperfect mother of three children, is co-author of How Imperfect Parents Lead Great Families. She juggles the daily life of working full time and managing the household while supporting a hard working husband.
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