The modern world is full of many different world views and forms of self-expression. You don’t have to look much further than TV or the internet to see this in motion. It can be very overwhelming to process all this information, especially for children. Parents often struggle to correct misunderstandings and reinforce family values so it’s important to be clear about what is expected of each family member. These expectations can be structured through a shared family vision or mission statement.
“A family mission statement is a combined, unified expression from all family members of what your family is all about — what it is you really want to do and be — and the principles you choose to govern your family life.” -Stephen Covey
Creating a family vision does not have to be complicated. It starts with determining what your core values are, then identifying daily habits that will help you to maintain those values. The vision also serves as a structure for holding each other accountable when things get off track. A fair and effective vision requires accountability for children as well as parents.
Your family can easily create a unique vision with these simple steps:
- Have a planning meeting. Call a family meeting to discuss what’s important to each family member. This can include things such as academic achievements, financial goals, relationships with each other and social activities. Write down each idea in a separate column.
- Identify actions and values. Under each goal, identify actions and values that can help everyone to achieve those goals. For example, in the academic achievements column, it would include getting homework and assignments done on time. For financial goals, family members can agree to limit money spent on expensive toys or takeout food, in order to save up for a vacation.
- Create a vision board. This can be a fun family project. First, write the core vision statement in the center of the board. For example, “The ____ family is dedicated to encouraging each other to be high achievers in school and work” or “In our family, we will show respect and kindness to each other at all times with our words and actions.” Surround the vision statement with artwork and positive words, then display it in a prominent place in the home as a reminder to stay focused.
- Commit to following the guidelines. Ensure that every family member agrees to the items set out in the vision statement. A family vision should be a shared vision, and the more faith each person has in it, the more likely they will stick to the plan.
- Model the vision. Parents are the leaders of the family and need to show good values and make good decisions as an example to the children. Full accountability will build trust and respect among all family members.
- Schedule regular checkpoints. Plan to meet at certain intervals – maybe every month – to evaluate what’s working and what’s not working. Maybe adjustments need to be made to the guidelines, and in some cases the vision itself may change. As long as you are all in agreement, you will be more successful.
Families, like companies, perform better when common goals are clearly defined. Creating these goals together encourages a sense of pride and personal commitment to the team and helps everyone to stay focused. A clearly defined family vision provides a firm foundation for decision making, attitudes, behaviours and achievements.