What does your family stand for? If your family were a brand, what would its slogan be? Writing a family mission statement can help you stay on track to meet your goals.
by Heidi Indahl
Most businesses have a mission statement of some variety, telling customers what their business does and what they stand for. Businesses with a mission statement are focused on meeting their goals! In the same way, families can benefit from a mission statement that tells everyone—in and out of the family—what they do and what their family stands for. A mission statement is a combination of the goals (see Setting Family Goals) and the identity (see What Is Your Family About?) of a family. It’s both who we are as a family and what we do as a family. Mission statements look to the long term. Our goals tell us what we want to do in a defined period of time; a mission statement identifies a family purpose and tells us what we look like on the way there.
Writing a family mission statement needs to be a family affair. You want every person in your family to take ownership of the mission, and people are more likely to take ownership of something they have contributed to.
In order to get your family more excited about creating a family mission statement, you can tie the experience to creating a family brand. Brainstorm some of the company brands and slogans that they might know. For example, “Just do it!” (Nike) or “Save Money. Live Better.” (Walmart) or “The Happiest Place on Earth.” (Disney World). You might have to make a few suggestions to get them started, but chances are your kids will be able to come up with at least a few. Challenge them to come up with a slogan for your family.
Tell your child that while a slogan helps consumers recognize products, all of those businesses also have a mission statement that helps them make decisions about the kind of business that they do. If you are feeling adventurous, look up a few examples. Most companies have their mission statement (or an abbreviated version, some are quite long) available online.
Depending on the age of your children, there may be a lot of variation in how much help they can give you combining slogans, goals, and identity. When we wrote our family mission statement, our children were still fairly young and we did most of the actual writing ourselves. Make a decision based on your family circumstances and go from there. Depending on your kids, they may be able to help with brainstorming ideas, proposing wording, or maybe voting between several final versions.
In general, a mission statement should clearly identify a purpose of the family and what someone else should be able to observe in order to show that you are meeting your stated purpose. For example, our family mission statement is:
In this family… We honor God through faith and service. We think before we act. We work together. We show respect for others and ourselves.
So what is our purpose? Honoring God. How can you observe that? When we demonstrate faith and service, when we think before we act, when we work together, and when we show respect for others and ourselves. Other families may choose to have a much longer or involved statement. Since our children were young when we wrote our mission statement, it made sense to keep it simple and it continues to apply as they grow. In fact, most of our older children have now memorized it and we can use it as a gentle reminder when we don’t observe one of the particular characteristics, especially when we notice a habit of not working together or showing disrespect in a particular avenue. The foundation has been set with them that we do these things in order to honor God and that when we don’t do them, we are not honoring God.
For more sample mission statements, visit my Family Mission Statement Board on Pinterest.