I recently discovered Linda and Richard Eyre in the November issue of Success magazine. They are leaders in the national movement toward more involved parenting and have written numerous books on parenting and children. Currently they have been blogging on the Success magazine web site and one of my favorite blogs is entitled: Live By a Family Mission Statement. The idea of a mission statement is not new. Businesses have put in countless hours hashing out their mission statement and then the idea moved on to personal mission statements thanks to Stephen Covey among others. Now the newest application for mission statements is the family. I think it is a wonderful and empowering idea that can transform the family just as it has transformed the business and personal development world.
In a nutshell this is how a family might go about developing this all important statement; call a family meeting and ask all the family members to think about their favorite words that would describe what they think the family should be and what they really want the family to accomplish together. Some important questions to ask are; How should we treat each other? How is our family different and special? How can our family be the best we can be? What are your dreams for the family? Write the brainstorming ideas on a whiteboard.
Next have each family member spend a few private minutes alone writing or drawing or both what they think the mission of the family should be. They can include their favorite words or ideas from the previous discussion.
When the family members get back together, everyone shares ideas and develops a two or three sentence paragraph that everyone can agree on as the family mission statement. Next take that paragraph and identify two or at most three words that clearly describe the family mission. For the Eyres, the words were: Broaden and Contribute. For my family, the words are: Encourage and Empower.
Just as developing a mission statement can empower you personally and help you determine your priorities, it can transform the family as well. Whether you are planning a vacation or chastising a child for a behavior problem, you should ask both the child and yourself, Am I following our family mission statement with my words and actions? If not, how can I change my words and actions so that I am true to the mission of our family? Thus, the mission statement becomes the North Star for the family. I can't think of anything more powerful that you can do as a parent than to develop a mission statement and follow it.