Although summer seems like a distant memory and spring break appears to be a mirage, our family still has some plans in the works for the upcoming year. A possible Florida trip this spring to see family? What about our family’s favorite summer vacation spot in the Colorado Rockies? In order to make these dreams a reality, with the family calendar looking more like a 3-D puzzle, some advanced planning is a must. Many families do a great job adequately preparing for a variety of things in the future, with kids involved in the discussion and planning: Vacations. Celebrations. College. Weddings.
But has your family ever considered this question, “What kind of family do we want to be this year?” It’s the kind of question that may seem overwhelming, which usually causes it to end up on the back-burner in most homes — mine included.
Here are 3 questions you can ask your family members over the next 3 weeks:
1. If our family could be the best family that it could be, what would we be doing?
This is not a competition against other families. It is simply a question about how to maximize our family’s God-given qualities and traits. We asked our kids this when they were elementary age and the answers were amusing. “We’d be… nice. …playful. …helpful.” “We’d eat lots of candy!” (Some advanced follow up questions that may emerge: How would we talk to each other? How would we handle conflict? How would we make family decisions?)
2. What gifts and talents does our family have that could help us show God’s love to others?
One family I parent-coached had a six year old child that regularly asked if the family could put on a parade for the other families in the neighborhood. The parents quickly dismissed it. But once they recognized that it could be used to build family cohesion by working on a project that could bless others, they figured out a way to involve more families and bless the neighbors as well. The child honed her organizational skills planning the parade and passing out flyers, and she invited others to help her, all the while blessing others with her talents.
3. If we were going to have a short sentence describing our family’s mission this year, what would it be?
Prepare for some wide-ranging answers to this one! When a family has a mission statement, making decisions takes on a whole new process. We’ve seen families spend their time and money differently when making choices based on their stated mission. When parents and kids make purposeful decisions, attitudes and behaviors change.
Photo Credit: monkeybusinessimages iStockphoto.com
A word of caution: It’s important to be curious and to allow the conversation to be light and fun. Nothing causes the “silent treatment” faster than these questions asked by a parent with an agenda to get the “right” answers. Ask your kids what specific gifts and talents they see in each other. Be prepared to point some out as well. Talk about what your most important values are as you craft your mission statement. With some consistency in keeping the conversation going over the first few weeks, a theme may emerge. Play with it. Invite all family members to help ask questions. Prayerfully consider what the Lord may be calling you to.
Let us know when you arrive at a family mission for the year. We’d love to know what it is and how it plays out.
Apply it Now:
- Set a time for several family meetings over the next month.
- Plan some brief fun activities or easy light questions for starters to set a positive tone. (See our other family meetings posts for some ideas – here, here, and here)
- Discuss questions above, or variations of them tweaked for your unique family. Encourage kids for their responses, until you arrive at a general, written consensus.
- Follow up at either subsequent family meetings or over dinner. “How are we doing at our mission statement?”