“Smart parents give their children a million answers. Wise parents ask their children a million questions.” Glennon Doyle Melton
“Quit kicking each other! Hands and feet to yourself! Do I need to sit in between you two?”
Things you never imagined yourself saying while sitting on a church pew.
Until you had kids.
Sometimes at night I lie in the warmth of my bed and feel my thoughts creep up on me with a tightening grip.
They should know better than to act like that during church…
We should have given our reminder speech in the car on the way over.
We really, like really, need to teach our oldest to tie his shoes.
We have so many words to learn before the spelling bee next week.
Why didn’t Trenton stick up for his brother yesterday while playing with the neighbors? I need to talk to him about that.
I used to let these thoughts pull me further and further down a no-good path to nowhere. (And to be honest, sometimes I still do.) But over the years I’ve slowly become better at setting them aside and trusting in myself as a person and a parent.
When the parenting overwhelm and the negative self-talk start to encroach, I repeat some powerful words in my head: our family’s purpose statement.
The simple lines that comprise our family purpose statement remind me that I’m giving my kids the childhood, the self-confidence, and the values that I’ve always wanted to give them.
I may be terrible at remembering to schedule my kids’ pediatrician visits or teaching them to tie their shoes, but my husband and I are great at doing the few things that deeply matter to us.
That’s enough for me.
If you too would like a little more peace in your parenting, a little more confidence that despite your shortcomings, you’re on the right track, here are four steps to nail down your family vision this year—in the form of a family purpose statement.
1. Gather your people in an environment that usually produces good conversation for you.
Maybe you’ve noticed that conversation flows comfortably for your family while you’re hiking or while you’re gathered around a campfire or when you’re just piled onto the couch with a good dessert in your hands. Wherever it is, talk there.
2. Ask one pivotal question: “What do we value? What matters to us?”
As a family, write down every answer you come up with.
3. Take some time to narrow it down to the values that are core to your family.
This is a part of the process that can’t be rushed. Time equals clarity. As you let your ideas ruminate in the back of your mind, I bet you’ll find certain tenants rise to the surface. Those will become your family purpose statement.
4. Let go of the idea of perfection.
You don’t have to get it right all at once. This doesn’t have to be the exact family purpose statement that you’ll have engraved on a coat of arms and pass on to your great-great-great-grandkids. Just use it as a roadmap for the time being, and be open to modifying it in the future if needed. If people can change, so can a family purpose statement. 🙂
All that’s left is to memorize your family’s statement and repeat it to yourself at night in bed, when those nagging insecurities creep up on you.
You’ve pinned down what matters to you—your family’s “why”—and you’re doing your best to live it.
That can be enough.
If you’d like more information, motivation, and inspiration—including examples from some awesome families—check out my ebook on Amazon (temporarily on sale for 99 cents!):
Post photos from the beautiful and talented, Bay-area lifestyle photographer: Jen J Photo