Suppose you went to a construction site and asked the workers what they were building. "We have no idea, " one replies. Then you ask what the blueprint shows. The foreman says, "We have no blueprint. We feel that if we build with great skill and craftsmanship, in the end we will have a beautiful building."
Obviously faulty thinking, but this is exactly what most of us do within our family structure. We may read books on child rearing and do our very best, but without a final plan, we may all be headed in different directions. You need to have a family vision and write down your family mission statement. It will give you a clear, shared vision of the destination you as a family want to go. As you compare your actions with your mission statement, you will see if you are off course.
How to create your family mission statement:
Explore what your family is all about. Get everyone's feelings and ideas on the table. Ask "What kind of family do we really want to be?" "What kind of home would you like to invite your friends to?" "What makes you want to come home?" "What embarrasses you about our family?" "What is the purpose of our family?" "How do we want to speak to each other?" "What are our responsibilities as family members?" "How can we contribute to society as a family?" Etc, etc. Make sure everyone has a chance to give input and is really listened to. Restate their ideas to make sure you really understand them. Have everyone write down their top 5 values and then eliminate them one at a time until they are down to one. This is the hardest part of the process, but will force family members to identify what is most important to them.
Write down your family mission statement. It is extremely important to get it down on paper. This is your rough draft. Family members will need to look at it, think about it, live with it, discuss it, and make changes. Work with it until everyone comes to agreement.
Use your mission statement to stay on track. This is not some "to do" to check off your list. It's a literal constitution for your family life. Creating the family mission statement enables you to keep those promises and commitments constantly before you so they are written on your heart and mind.
Three "Watch Outs"
Don't announce it. Don't just make the mission statement yourself and announce it to your family. Everyone has to feel ownership in it or they won't buy into it. It's like asking someone when they last washed a rental car. If it isn't yours, you don't value it or take care of it.
Don't rush it. The process is as important as the product.
Don't ignore it. The mission statement should become the very fabric of your lives. This should become a habit and not a one time event.