Much like the season of Spring, the New Year is a time of new beginnings. Many people set goals, rules and boundaries this time of year. One of the most important areas to strive for success is in family dynamics.
Whether you have children or not, setting some ground rules for what you want to achieve in relational harmony is a major key to creating a haven of peace in your home.
One way we helped prevent arguments and fighting was to draw up a Family Mission Statement. Many years ago I found a magazine article that included a mission statement I thought embraced our philosophy.
We had a family meeting to talk about it and each of us agreed it was what we believed in and wanted for our home.
Because all family members agreed on this philosophy, when someone did something that violated that mission statement, whether it was one of the parents or a child, instead of being accusatory or angry, all we needed to ask was, “Was what you did (or said) in line with our family mission statement?”
It took everyone out of the hot seat in being the judge and jury, encouraging each of us to be responsible for our actions and behavior.
So how do you come up with a family mission statement?
I suggest you call everyone together for a family meeting.
We used to have them at least once a month. It was a time to talk about grievances, frustrations, disappointments, accomplishments, desires, family vacations, schedules, rules, expectations, etc.
Sometimes these meetings were serious and covered some important issues and sometimes they were just crazy fun. But it was definitely a time to communicate freely without fear of condemnation or judgement.
It was our SAFE PLACE
Ask each child to submit his/her ideas for consideration in adopting a mission statement. It doesn’t matter how long or involved it is. The important issue here is that you all agree on it wholeheartedly so if it is violated (and it will be), the parent or child will know he/she is wrong and has no one to blame but themselves.
Let me give you another hint on how to make this work well in your home. Don’t laugh.
Write or print out the Statement and tape it next to the toilet in every bathroom of the house.
Seriously. It really works.
I meticulously hand-wrote in a crude form of calligraphy our Statement and took it to a printer to have laminated, then thumb-tacked it beside the toilet paper roll in the main bathroom of our house.
Kids memorize easily and if something is where they see it many times during the day for days on end….they will memorize it. Stick it on mirrors, the refrigerator….whatever works….but know that it is important it becomes ingrained in their minds so when someone abuses the rules they know immediately they are guilty.
And don’t be at all surprised if your five-year-old brings it to your attention if you have let something slip that violates what she has memorized!
Here is the Miller Family Mission Statement that greatly influenced the interaction in our home
Perhaps it will help you formulate your own code of conduct and make this New Year a more peaceful setting in the most important environment of all…..your home.
A Safe Place
In a safe place, people are kind.
Sarcasm, fighting, back-biting and name-calling are exceptions.
Kindness, consideration and forgiveness are the way of life.
In a safe place there is laughter.
Not just the canned laughter of television,
but real laughter that comes from sharing meaningful work and play.
In a safe place there are rules.
The rules are few and fair
and are made by the people who live and work there,
including the children.
In a safe place people listen to one another.
They care about one another and show that they do.
Please God, make this a safe place.
Excerpt from Turnabout Children by Mary MacCracken
In her new book, Be Your Finest Art, you will find more ideas about how to be a better communicator and listener and how playing games creates great memories and family time. This book is full of color and art and is a unique and beautiful gift for that special someone as we approach St. Valentine's Day or just to say “I love you.”
She has also authored four children’s books, which my kids LOVE. She and Dan have three grown children and twelve grandchildren and lots of years living the entrepreneurial roller-coaster life of adventure!