Here at heart-focused parenting, I often talk about being intentional. One thing Peter and I did many years ago that helped us to be intentional was we spent a weekend thinking about our purpose and our vision for our family. As we’ve found out over the years – the real benefit isn’t so much in the succinct statement but rather in the discussion and clarifying of beliefs and values about being a family and how we were going to live that out. I encourage all families to think about their purpose and their values and how they want their family life to look like – in essence to create a family vision statement. This is what we are talking about this week – creating a family vision statement. Don’t forget to download the Family Vision Starter Kit as it will help you as you start to consider the uniqueness of your family.
Create a Family Vision Unique to Your Family
It is easy to get overwhelmed when we use words like VISION STATEMENT but it is just another way to say – this is what is important to us and this is why.
You see family is more than just the social unit of humanity that reproduces the species!!! (for me) Family is the social unit where we live and grow. Family is the place where we grow as strong individuals and yet know a sense of belonging and purpose for something bigger than ourselves.
- How would you describe family?
- How would you describe your family?
- What is important to you and your spouse as you raise your kids?
- What do you want your family to look like, what do you want your family to value and to get involved in?
- And do you know why?
- Why are those things important?
The answers to all those questions are the beginning of a family vision statement; and you can see that as you begin to reflect on those questions, ponder the answers and then put legs on those answers – you’ll create a family life that reflects those important things that are on your heart.
A family vision statement is a foundational belief statement about what your family is all about: who you are, what your purpose is and the principles that will govern how you live as a family.
Some people like to have a family talk and through a democratic process come up with something that is meaningful to everyone in the family. That’s not how Peter and I did it. We think it is the parent’s responsibility to create the family culture and things that God puts on the parent’s heart to come to life in the family – so I rather see the family vision is defined by the parents. It is also the parent’s responsibility to pass on the values and core beliefs to the children so they can capture the excitement of what it means to belong to their family.
Not every family is going to be the same. We only have to look around at our friends to know that each family is different. Or even our family of origin – I have two siblings, and though we have shared foundational values when it comes to our individual families – we are different from each other. We have different values, priorities, and ways of living our family life.
And that is all okay. There is no one right way to function and live as a family. In fact, that is the very reason why we need to understand our own family (our own family ways and purposes) so that we can stay true to ourselves and lead a fruitful family life. without feeling like we have to be like anyone else.
A Vision Statement is like a Map
My husband, Peter, is a pilot and he loves to look at maps and see the world from that perspective – from up above. Before he goes on a flight he plans his flights he tells me that if he is a few degrees off, even for a short period of time flying, at the end of his flying time he would find himself nowhere near his expected destination. This is obviously important as he flies around the outback of Australia.
He needs to know where he is going, and the best flightpath to get there – and then he needs to keep his plane on track – generally making adjustments along the way, according to wind and weather conditions and how the plane responds in those conditions. Can you see that application as a parent?
We need to know where we want to go as a family – our destination (that’s our values and purposes) – and we need to know how we are goign t get there – the parenting strategies and situations we will use to raise our children and then we also need to be aware of how the family – or the children – are responding to the circumstances and we need to be available and aware enough to make tweaks along the way – so we stay on track! We can deal with family life on a day-to-day basis or we can be like a pilot and look at it from an up above perspective – plot a course – that’s our vision and then deal with the day-to-day stuff – that’s the flying – getting us to the destination. But for us to be able to do that we need to put in the flight plan – that’s the vision statement.
Not long after Peter and I were married we went to a business seminar where they talked about “working IN the business” compared to ”working ON the business”.
Working IN the business is about the everyday activities that make that business tick. Working ON the business is the big picture stuff: the decisions that shape and direct the business more than the hands-on, nitty gritty. We took this same language and moved it over to our family sphere. We didn’t want to get so caught up working IN the family, the everyday messy life stuff that we never saw the big picture, never got to working ON the family. Working on the family is what creates the direction and culture and shared values – the way of doing family life together.
So we set aside time to talk about our family direction, about what was important to us, about what we wanted our familiiy life to look like at the end of our parenting journey, and what we wanted to be known for as a family. These types of questions helped us identify what values we held dear.
We spent the day brainstorming questions, sharing with each other, grouping similar thoughts, summarizing and rephrasing key ideas that we both shared or could connect with. And we came up with a statement – which three years later, we revised and fine-tuned till we created a statement that we could easily refer to and communicate with others, particularly our kids. Since then, we often look at this statement and see how we are measuring up; see where there are gaps which then help us set some goals for the coming year. We do set goals outside of this statement but I don’t think we have ever done anything that would be in opposition to this statement. Not because this statement rules our life, but because this statement reflects what is important to us, what’s on our heart.
Though we never forget the scripture that says, In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps. Prov 29:18
As we prayerfully considered what values to hold to, what priorities to set, and what decisions to make we have gone with the things that excite our hearts. But we believe that as we commit our thoughts and decisions to God that he will change our heart if we are not in step with him. He will let us know!
Our Vision Statement is Personal
Our Vision statement says: Our vision comes out of personal relationship with God and the consequent desire for godly character. Specifically: order, peace, wisdom and creativity. These are to characterize our every area of life – our family, our home, how we relate to others and our business ventures. The outworking of this will be others knowing God and His purposes.
I doubt this means anything to you – but it means a lot to Peter and me. It has been a statement that has helped us stay firm and focused in the ups and downs of life. It has helped us stay focused on something bigger than ourselves and yet grow as individuals and as a family unit. It has reminded us of what is important – for us.
The vision you have for your family will help you in the day-to-day decisions and choices that you face. The magic (so to speak) isn’t in crafting a well-worded statement. It comes when you think about it, talk about it, pray about it – and come to a place where you and your spouse know what is important to you as parents as you raise your family.
Heart-focused Action Step
Think about your family – your family purpose, your family vision.
Maybe the idea completely overwhelms you. Don’t let the language – the words – VISION STATEMENT – overwhelm you. Don’t let it get in your head and make it bigger than it is.
Yes, I know it sounds like a business word – and to be honest, it is taken from the business world – but it is just another way to clarify what you value, what you see as important, what you want to be like, and what you want to achieve as a family – and to know why those things are important to you.
All we are talking about is identifying key values, key practices, and key purposes that you want to see your family characterised by.
I know families who haven’t done this process and they say – well we didn’t do that and we are a healthy functioning family – and I would agree. This is really just a tool to help you and your spouse come together and talk about things. I think the families who don’t do this – they still function and make decisions based on a certain set of values or perspectives, but they can’t actually articulate that to each other or to their children. But if you want to be intentional in living out a God-given purpose, if you want to be on the same page with your spouse, and if you want to communicate those things to your kids – then start talking about those things now. Get them out of your heart and start finding ways to actually live it out together with your family.
We were at a family conference one year and the family activity was to come up with 3-5 character words – or values – that were important to your family – so much like what I’m saying here. And our kids turned to us and said well, that’s easy – wisdom, order, creativity and peace. And then Josh said – I really think you need to add integrity to that list because Dad talks about that all the time. Not only did this make our family very quick at completing the task – it showed Peter and I that we had been passing on values to our kids and that our kids knew what was important to us.
You can do this too
The best way to come up with a family vision statement is to spend some time thinking, dreaming, and praying both individually and then together with your spouse. You may need to set aside a whole day, or maybe a series of coffee dates – whatever works for you. You may need to revisit your ideas (like I said) and tweak in a year or two.
It took Peter and I a few goes to take the ideas we came up with in our first brainstorming weekend and to fine-tune them so they were concise and specific, and easy to communicate.
But start today – start thinking about what is important to do, why it is important, and how you are going to live it out.
To help you start talking about these things I have a free download for you – the Family Vision Statement starter kit – it is one of my Heart Booster resources. So sign up – and download the kit. It includes:
- Instructions and supplies for brainstorming and guided discussion
- Questions to discuss together
- Template to help you collate your thoughts into a precise statement.
Two keywords that Peter and I hold to when looking at our lives and making our decisions are Intentional and purposeful. (And if you’ve heard me speak before or you read my Heart Boosters on the weekend you will have heard that many times!!) I trust that as you start thinking and talking about the beliefs, values, and dreams you have for your family that you will be able to write a Vision Statement that truly reflects your heart so you can walk intentionally and purposefully as a family. That’s it for today – if you get stuck in any way you can email me and I’m happy to help that way or you can book a Coaching call to discuss clarifying your family vision further.
Do you Know your “Why”? When we know why we do things we find the motivation to carry through.
I Know it is Important, but do I Know Why? We must know why we do the things that we do otherwise when things get tough we will stop doing the things that seemingly have little value.
Be Intentional: Know what Defines You: When you know who you are, and what your purpose is; you are able to be intentional in all areas of your life.
Do you want an Intentional, Relational, Heart-focused Family Life?Unpacking what these words mean and what it looks like in your family.