Have you ever been around that family? You know the one I’m talking about. The family that loves each other fiercely, protects each other on the playground (and anywhere else), and actually wants to spend time together? Sometimes we poke fun at those tight knit families, but I think every parent hopes that their kids will feel like they are part of something special. Because your family is special. If you want to be that family, you must work at it. Creating a family with strong relationships and identity means being intentional about creating a strong family culture. Every family has a culture, being intentional just lets you pick what that culture looks like.
What is family culture?
Wouldn’t it be great if you could just point to one thing, and say, “That’s it! That’s our family culture!” Unfortunately, defining family culture isn’t so simple. Your family’s culture is made up of a combination of things. You create a family culture when you share experiences, values, goals, and expectations together. Family culture defines how you and your children see the world. It is a sense of belonging to something bigger than yourself.
Why family culture matters
Every parent I’ve met wants to instill values into their children. Let’s face it, our kids are sponges! They soak up everything around them. Which means if you aren’t helping your kids to form a strong foundation of values, they’ll pick up what they see elsewhere. As you spend intentional time together, your kids will begin to understand your values, and the social norms of society. When difficult things happen in your family, a strong family culture will help every member of your family get through it. It is comforting for kids and parents alike to feel like they have something strong to rely on. Intentional time together also helps to build the relationships in your family. If you want to have strong relationships with your family members, you must spend time together.
Building your own family culture
Unfortunately, a family culture that you love doesn’t just happen. It takes some effort. Start with the following:
Define your values and goals
What is important to you? What would you like to be important to your children? These values and goals might include things like respect, hard work, or showing empathy to others.
Teach your kids values
Understanding your personal values is only half the battle. Once you have a good idea of what is important to you, you must teach those values to your kids.
- Show it! Your kids will learn these values as they observe you, so make sure you are willing to work hard if hard work is one of your values. Likewise, don’t lie if honestly is something you’d like to foster in your kids.
- Teach these values on a regular basis. Most kids won’t automatically understand values like respect or empathy. Take the time to explain what a value means. Show them why these values are important to your family. Value teaching needs to happen at home.
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Create and enforce family rules
I don’t know about you, but there are certain things that we just don’t do in our home. We have rules. For example: we have a rule about the types of media we allow in our home. We have this rule to help reinforce our family values. My kids might buck at it a little, but they understand why we have those rules. Having rules in place helps our children know what is expected from them.
Create a shared vision
Sports teams, schools, and even businesses work to create a shared vision among their members. They define values that are important to them, and then they create motto’s, sayings, or similar chants to remind members of those values. You can do this in your family too. Every night before bed, we say our family motto with our kids. “We are Davis’ and we are helpers!” It seems a little silly sometimes. My seven-year-old rolls his eyes. But that silly chanting of our family motto binds us together. It enforces what we stand for, and what we do. When we serve or volunteer with our kids, those words slip off the tongues of our kids easily. They understand that is who we are, and what we try to do for each other and those around us. No matter what your family motto is, say it together. Create artwork with your motto and hang it in your home.
You can help your kids find their own purpose and passion in life. Read: Are you raising a gritty kid? Here’s how
Spend time together.
It’s hard to feel camaraderie with someone that you never spend time around. Create experiences for your family. Work together. Play together. Eat dinner together. Take vacations. Explore together. Create silly traditions. Those minutes and hours add up and help create good relationships. Your kids will look back fondly on the time they spent with you and their siblings. When I was growing up, my parents didn’t have a lot of money to take us jet setting around the world on fancy vacations. But I knew that every year we were going to go camping and I looked forward to it. I loved the time we had together. Even today, my family camps together every summer. I love watching my kids interact with my siblings and parents, as well their cousins. Camping became a part of who we are and the mountains we camped in are a special place for me, even as an adult.
You can create a culture in your family that encourages all the things you could ever hope for. But it won’t be easy. As you are intentional with your teaching, expectations, and time the relationships within your family will bloom. You’ve got this!
What do you do to build a strong family culture in your home? Do you have a family motto?