Most companies and organizations have a mission statement. Not only does a clear, shared mission help define the values of a company and its employees, it also helps guide the behaviour of all employees. So why don't families have something similar?
Steven Covey, the author of "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People", writes about this in his book "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families". Family creeds or mission statements help families decide what kind of family they want to be and what they value. A family creed is like a template for family member's behavior and decisions. Just like a company's mission statement, a family creed helps families stay on track towards being the kinds of people they want to be.
It's not difficult to describe my family. We've got five family members and hundreds of extended family members. We have a busy schedule. We watch a lot of tv on the weekends. We pretty much keep to ourselves. Our kids actually like spending time with each other. We're not big on bathroom privacy. We watch our budget. We like to travel.
Describing what kind of family we're striving for is bit more challenging. I decided to take a stab at writing our own family creed. For those with a Catholic background, think of it as part Ten Commandments (without the "Thou Shalt Nots") and part Apostles Creed (without the life of Jesus). I ran it by Alfie, and he agrees it's pretty good, for a first draft at least. This is the kind of thing that needs reviewing and revisiting, but for now, here's what we came up with:
We try new things
We respect our bodies
We don't do things halfway
We appreciate the value of a dollar
We're in no hurry to grow up
We may not be religious... but we're moral
We respect people's choices
We look out for each other
We try new thingsWe are open to new experiences -- traveling to new places, trying new foods, taking up new hobbies, learning new technologies. It's okay to dislike something, but it's not okay to decide you don't like something if you haven't tried it.
We respect our bodiesWe are what we eat. We strive to eat foods that are healthy for our minds and bodies, foods that make us feel good inside and out. We keep our bodies and minds active. We avoid destructive behavior like overeating, binge drinking, smoking and drugs. We protect ourselves by putting safety first when we walk, bike, ride, drive, etc..
We're informedWe watch the news together every weekday morning. We don't sugarcoat the news: when cities get bombed or kids get murdered, we talk about it -- and reassure the kids that they are safe and they are loved. Because we discuss issues ranging from politics to economics to pop culture, the kids probably know more about current events than the average adult.
We are open
Whether it's keeping bedroom doors unlocked or being comfortable with nakedness or telling the truth, we are open with each other. We value honesty because it's the basis for trust. We know we can tell each other anything because we are secure in our love for one another.