As Intentional Families reach the third stage of the IF Process, they often find it helpful to create tangible reminders of their family values and goals. Families like the Hendersons find tangible reminders like family mission statements to help them stay on course as they implement their family plan. Below, we share the Henderson Family story from a book from our IF Library, Stephen R. Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families.
“We created our family mission statement over a period of several weeks. The first week we called the four children together and said, “Look, if we’re all going in different directions and we’re always fighting with one another, things aren’t going to go very smoothly.” We told them that things would be much easier if we all shared the same value system. So we gave everyone five three-by-five cards and said, “Just write down one word on each card that you would use to describe this family.”
When we sorted through the cards and eliminated the duplications, that left us with twenty-eight different words. So the next week we had everybody define what those words meant so that we could understand what they really had in mind. For example, our eight-year-old daughter had written the word “cool” on one of her cards. She wanted to have a “cool” family. So we encouraged her to explain to us what a “cool” family would be like. Eventually, everyone’s definitions were clarified, so there was deep understanding.
The Henderson family encouraged each family member to contribute and seek understanding as they created their family mission statement.
The next week we put all the words on a big flip chart and gave everyone ten votes. They could use up to three votes per item if they wished, but they could not spend more than ten votes in total. After the vote, we were left with about ten items that were important to everyone.
The following week we voted again on the ten items, and we got the list down to six. Then we broke up into three groups, and each group wrote on or two phrases about two of the words, defining what they meant. We came back together and read our phrases to the others.
The next week we discussed the phrases. We clarified them. We made sure they said what we wanted to say. We made them grammatically correct. And we turned them into our mission statement:
To always be kind, respectful, and supportive of each other,
To be honest and open with each other,
To keep a spiritual feeling in the home,
To love each other unconditionally,
To be responsible to live a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life,
To make this house a place we want to come home to.
It was really great because from start to finish we had involvement. The mission statement was their words and their sentences, and they could see that. We put the statement in a beautiful frame and hung it over the fireplace. We said, “Okay, now anyone who can memorize this statement gets the big candy bar of their choice.”
Every week we have someone share what one of those words or sentences means to him or her. It only takes two or three minutes, but it makes the mission statement come alive. We’re also setting goals around the mission statement, making it a central part of our lives.
This mission statement process has been tremendously helpful to us. In a normal family, you tend to assume certain behaviors. But when you’re blending a family, you’re coming in with two sets of ideas about how to raise children in the first place. Our mission statement has really given us some structure, some common values and a common focus on where we’re going.”
The Henderson Family story reminds us that the Intentional Family Process is a journey, not a destination. They allowed their mission statement to grow and evolve over time. Once they had a mission statement that reflected their values, they integrated their mission statement into their family rhythms to serve as a constant reminder of who they are and where they want to go.
There are many ways your family can choose to create reminders of your family values. For more information on creating a personalized family mission statement, you can access this mission statement builder provided through the Franklin Covey website.