Over dinner one night, I casually asked my 7.5 year old daughter, what one adjective she would use to describe our family life. I will not forget how she looked up to me and in all seriousness said… “LOVING”.
I mumbled to her, “Really?”, partly amazed at her choice of words, and secretly pleased that she thought we were a pretty loving family.
I am humbled to learn that all the efforts we spent pouring into the children’s lives are being deposited somewhere. All those table talks, family activities, numerous walks are weaving a sense of identity in the children’s hearts to what our family is all about.
Lately, I have been learning how important it is for parents to cultivate a strong sense of family identity to our children.
What is family identity and how do we go about cultivating it?
Family identity, as the Ezzos put it, is “the mutual acceptance of who we are as a a family, based on trust, acceptance and a growing loyalty between members.”
The stronger your family identity within, the weaker it is to succumb to peer pressure without.
What about you? Do your children know that you have been put together for a purpose? Would they stand up for each other in times of difficulties? Do they know what separate your family as unique from other families? Would they be able to clearly tell what values you embrace as a family?
Our little family get so excited when we begin our family identity building project. It is important to remember that a strong family takes a lot of WORK. And WORK spells TIME. The family unit is under attack from every direction in our day and age. It is only families that are strong in their values and interdependent relationships that will stick together.
At times we as parents get too busy with our own pursuits that we neglect the development of lives together as a family. When everyone gets too wrapped up around their own little worlds that the family suffers as a unit. Disintegration causes that sense of identity to be lost.
The Ezzos further say,
”When parents abdicate their personal responsibility by giving up their role as the primary moral influence over their children, and if the resulting vacuum is filled with the voices of public institutions and your children’s peers, you can anticipate an increase in alienation, indifference and independence on the part of your children. You cannot expect family harmony when other people are socialising your kids with their values. The stronger the outside influences in the early years, the greater the potential for division in the teen years” (“Reaching the Heart of Your Teen”, pg 80-81)
Your family identity is unique and different from the rest of the world. Making your own family mission statement is one powerful way to encapsulate what it is that you are living for and set you apart as a family.
My daughter and I have been talking for ages about coming up with a family key verse and a motto that summarises who we are. Inspired one night, my husband decided to transfer the unspoken values and beliefs in our hearts onto tangible, print material. This will one day be canvassed and placed on one of our walls.
Some tips on developing your own mission statement: (points taken from Moms Notes)
* Consider what is important to God and you
(In our family we want to strive to love God above people and love people more than things)
* Sees individual talents as God’s gift to benefit others
(This is reflected in the meanings behind our childrens’ names, blue printed as ‘Purity’, ‘Praise’ and ‘Power’)
* Says what we can do as family with God’s help
(To live courageous, passionate lives – more so in working out our individual callings as we mature in Christ)
* Sees a connection to the family of God
(This is where our church’s vision infuses our own family’s as well)
* Includes the spiritual dimension. Is inspirational and based on God’s word
Hope you can share some things you do in your home to create that sense of identity!
For more information on why and how to create family mission statement, check out this article – it contains some deep issues that are worth pondering upon.