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A Family on a Mission

In some ways, a family is like a small company with everyone working together to create a positive culture and support successful family life. That is why mission statements, well established in the business world, are becoming popular with families. Mission statements can do for families what they do for businesses: inspire and guide the family over generations.

When you create a mission statement as a family, you are creating a bonding experience amongst your family members. Studies have shown that finding ways to connect like this as a family benefits the rising generation. Dr. Marshall Duke, Dr. Robyn Fivush, and Jennifer Bohanek with Emory University, specifically identified that children who had a stronger understanding of their family’s personal narrative demonstrated high levels of self-esteem, stronger sense of identity, and were more emotionally secure (Mar, 2010). If you document that mission statement, and make it part of your family experience, you are also increasing the likelihood of your mission being shared with future generations.

But what is a mission statement? And how do you go about crafting your own? Consider a few examples of mission statements from some very well-known businesses:

“Give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.” Facebook
“To refresh the world; to inspire moments of optimism and happiness; to create value and make a difference.” Coca Cola
“Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”Google

Each mission states in simple terms the general purpose or direction of the company rather than the specific outcomes, while tying in their values as a business. A family mission statement includes the same elements: your purpose or direction and the values you adhere to on the journey. Stephen Covey described it as “a clear, compelling vision of what your family is all about.” (7 Habits of Highly Effective Families, 1989).

When building your own mission statement with your family, it will be helpful to have your family values defined. (links to our values vlog and values card exercise?) Once you have collaborated to define the core values of your family, you will be able to use your values to guide the creation of your mission statement by completing these 3 prompts:

  1. To…. (Do something) This contains the action. What specific actions are you going to make?

  2. In such a way that….. (How and in which manner) This is the quality of your action. In what manner are you going to accomplish this?

  3. So that…. (We gain these results or benefits) This is where you capture the results…what do you want to come out of all of this?

As a family group, generate multiple ideas and collaboratively discuss. Look at everyone’s responses and see if there are consistent themes throughout or find a few defining words that can encompass the ideas that are brought forth. For the first draft, write as many lines in your mission statement as you need. Throughout the process, you can begin to cull and find the most meaningful parts to carry forward to your final draft. Your family might be able to complete this process in one sitting, or it may take you several attempts over time to come up with the exact right words, in the right order. When the completed mission statement feels like one that will serve to guide your family as you make future decisions, you have got it right.

Here are some family mission statements we have been given permission to share:

To realize our dreams, goals, and aspirations as a family and as individuals in a way that stretches our intellect, strengthens our character, and enriches our family life so that we are fulfilled, happy, confident, and always close.
To live transparently, with open-minded compassion by continuously growing, learning, and questioning in order to be a positive force in our communities and a safe place where we are supported to be ourselves, surrounded by love.

Finally, some families choose to keep their mission alive and top of mind by displaying it in some manner in their homes. This can be done publicly, as a hanging wall piece or more privately, as a card or paper you keep handy.

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