If you have had any contact with the business world, church organizations, or clubs of any kind, you know a thing or two about mission statements. A brief statement designed to define what the group is all about. I have heard of parents creating similar mission statements. And while I do not have a problem with the idea, the ever-changing force that is a family can greatly benefit from a more direct approach; family mottos.
Why family mottos?
Short and to the point, family mottos are easy to understand and remember for even the youngest children. Effective mottos pull everyone up to a standard without having to re-lecture. It is just the way it is. You can personalize the motto by incorporating your last name, or leave it as a general statement of fact. Although it is true that actions speak louder than words, a good family motto can provide the “why” kids, and adults, often need.
Motto Examples from my home
- “Take the extra step” Is my husband’s newest addition to our repertoire of family mottos. After a brief time management lesson, he explained how much nicer everything looks and how smoother the home runs when everyone simply takes the extra step. This means instead of kicking shoes off at the door, or leaving a trail of backpacks and cups throughout the house, our family “takes the extra step.” Four words save us all a lot of frustration.
- “Simplify” While this is not a catchy family motto, it is the basis of how we have chosen to operate. Keeping excess to the barest minimum is not a question. “K.I.S.S.” which stands for Keep it Simple Silly, or “Reduce, reuse, recycle” could work for other families, but simplify works best for us.
- “Kindness counts” This can be applied to how we treat each other in the home as well as how we treat strangers on the street. While we cannot do everything for everyone, a little kindness goes a long way. Teaching this fact to my kids involves not only admonishing them to be kind, but also pointing out how the kindness of others makes them feel. When a store clerk or bank teller is especially nice, I point that out to the kids to give them a picture of what kindness can look like.
- “Hard work makes it easy” Focusing on a task, practicing and persevering opens doors and makes the next challenge easier. My son used this motto throughout his Coast Guard boot camp experience and ended up being pleasantly surprised at how “easy” it was. He studied hard before leaving and got in the best shape possible beforehand and that helped a lot.
Determine what values you want to instill and decide on a motto or two for your family. I can practically guarantee you will see a difference in how you approach discipline and life together. Take note, the first time you spout off a “family motto” you may feel a little weird. It may sound a little cheesy, but with time the underlying principle will take root and you will be glad you pushed through the awkwardness.
More by Sylvie Branch:
7 ways to keep siblings content at sporting events
No More Nagging: 7 Steps to Freedom
Stressed at home? Shut up and move!