I was invited to speak at a conference to a large group of parents, with the specific assignment to share some thoughts and insights on Successful Parenting. After my initial reaction of shock and recollection of ALL the mistakes I have made as a mom, I decided to share 5 of the habits that we created as a family that seemed to make a big difference in our home.
I knew instantly what my first suggestion would be- it is a habit that my husband and I began long before our family included our children.
Insight #1: CREATE A FAMILY VISION
The habit of creating a family vision has made a BIG difference in our lives, and has been my life line when struggles, doubts, and concerns creep into our lives.
I am a huge advocate of being a Visionary when it comes to creating our goals and understanding the desires of our hearts in our personal lives. Like a corporate Mission Statement, a personal Vision Statement helps us identify who we want to BE and who we will BECOME on this journey we call life!
A Vision Statement helps keep us on track of our long term goals; not only What we want to Do in this life, but more importantly WHO we want to Be!
Proverbs 29:18 councils “where there is no vision, the people perish.” I really believe that this is a valuable insight into the value of a family vision, especially in this time in history where the assaults on home and families has increased by leaps and bounds. With so many distractions and so many activities pulling at our families from every angle, it is easy to understand how quickly our much valued families can perish under the challenges of this day.
Create a vision for your family, and begin with the end in sight! Where do you see yourself, your children, and your family in 5, 10 or 30 years? What do you need to do to get there? How do you need to shift your priorities? and What do you feel is important for your children to learn and become?
Involve your children, regardless of how old they are with your FAMILY VISION STATEMENT-
When your children are involved in the family vision, they feel a sense of ownership and they have an increased desire to support the success of this vision.
Having a family vision helps us to set priorities in our family’s resource management. It helps us determine where to spend our time, money and efforts.
Good questions to ask yourself when trying to decide how to make a family vision and where to focus your efforts are:
1) does it keep you on track to stick together in family unity?
2) does this bring your family closer to reaching your full and divine potential?
Having a solid family and personal vision will help the family and/or the individual know how to prioritize their time, choose wisely the activities they engage in and make wise social decisions BEFORE the decision actually becomes an issue.
We have seen the value of this Vision Statement in a few different types of situations that seem to recur on a fairly frequent pattern in our home:
1. The first place our Vision Statement comes in handy is when we are trying to decide if we can successfully add a regularly scheduled lesson or activity to the calendar.
One of the VISIONS for our family is having strong family bonds, unity and family support. To ensure the best environment for this cohesiveness to be nurtured, we strive for time each week night for a little bit of togetherness (with teens, I KNOW this is hard)! It’s what we strive for, and it dictates the measuring stick we use for planning our family calendar.
If a new activity looks like it will compromise our original VISION, we don’t add it the calendar- it doesn’t even get PENCILED in!! If the activity is very important to someone,
we look for ways to add the activity that WON’T have negative impact on our family, or we look at what we can CUT from our lives to make room in our schedule.
2. A second priority we set long ago was to create within our children a strong work ethic. This was motivated by the examples set by my own mother and grandmothers who worked side by side with me in the kitchen, in the home, and in the garden. Not only did these women teach me the value of work, but they taught me the balancing value of playing together. Over the years we have incorporated many opportunities for our children to work in our home, but the biggest contribution is in the kitchen. It has been in our kitchen, both in working together and dining together, that I have come to know my children best.
No child is too young to find a job in the kitchen- if nothing else, let them enjoy making music with the pots and pans or emptying the dishwasher-
3. Another blessing of having a VISION STATEMENT has been in the blessings that come from seeing ALL that has already been accomplished from previous VISION STATEMENTS! It is nice to see how far you’ve already come on a goal or a vision. This is ESPECIALLY helpful at times when life gets a little discouraging- when the bumps and bruises of life deflect from the good and beautiful. Lately, as life has seen some discouraging days, I have looked back and seen all the growth and progress from our previous challenges. It has given me much needed hope to realize that growth often comes with a few growing aches and pains. Having the ability to go back and count past progress gives me the hope when my current hope seems a little clouded.
Our family Vision Statement helps keep us focused when life gets a little out of balance. And it helps us see the bigger picture when we feel we’ve gotten off track of the important stuff of life!
Life can get really busy. Life can get really hard! Especially in parenting, it is easy to get so fixated on the ‘wheel’ that we forget about the ‘shoulder’. We forget to enjoy the work we are doing when days can get long and sometimes a little dark and dreary. It is important that whatever we add to our lives adds JOY, allows us to find and share HAPPINESS and brings us to a state of peaceful accomplishment-
There is ‘a story of a psychology professor at the University of Chicago who spent 25 years studying what makes people happy. The professor concluded, “The best moments [in our lives] usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.” . . . . Sometimes the days never seem to end; sometimes you wonder what you got yourself into; sometimes you question if all the work is worthwhile if you cannot see the results of your efforts. Then, all of a sudden, it does end. Ironically, you wish it wasn’t ending because you look back and see how you’ve grown, you see the experiences that have pushed and stretched you, and you see the friendships that have developed through months of hard work.’
Consider creating a family vision statement, regardless of where you are on your parenting journey. You’ll look back, I promise, and see how you’ve grown and how the experiences of life led you to right where you are, right where you should be!