Our family mission statement

Years ago, I was a member of a strategic planning committee that was revamping our school district’s mission statement. The process was empowering and thoughtful and helped our district faculty and staff clarify the commitments we wanted to make to our students. 

I was impressed by one of my colleagues, who took the process home and facilitated the creation of his own family mission statement. 

At that time, I was in the thick of the baby world, just keeping my head above water, providing for the needs of four young children while working full time. The idea of creating a family mission statement sounded great, but seemed a bit overwhelming.

Now that my children are all school-age, my husband and I are still providing for their needs, but we’re also working, with intention, to parent with purpose. We’re striving to make strong connections with our kids and to instill strong values so they can grow into stable, productive and contributing members of society. 

There’s a kit for this!

I was recently inspired — by Sarah Glad, a Burnsville mother of three — to revisit the idea of creating a family mission statement in a simplified, meaningful and creative way with one of her family mission statement kits, which she offers at whowearefamily.com.

Glad said her desire to get clear about her family’s values inspired the kits.

“Through our parenting journey, I’ve been interested in clarity — and the confidence that comes with it,” she said. “I craved a framework that would serve as a checkpoint, a decision-making filter and a way to concisely convey our family identity.”

Our family gave it a go and found the process manageable and fun — and we’re delighted with the sign that we have displayed proudly in our home. See a photo of it with this story at mnparent.com/meg.

The process

The kits come simply and attractively packaged with instructions and a set of value cards.

Glad said her son, Jack, had the idea to use the cards, which state a value on one side and list actions that demonstrate that value on the other side. The result is a concrete, engaging and efficient process for narrowing down the values you hold most dear: Families sort the cards into yes, no and maybe piles, reflecting the importance of a particular value.  

There’s some discussion about the piles until a set of clear winners emerges. Then families flip the cards over and choose from an action that shows how they’ll carry out the value. 

For example, the Authenticity card includes the following statements: 

  • We are real.
  • We respect ourselves and others.
  • We own our mistakes and learn from them. 
  • We hold ourselves to a standard of grace, not perfection.
  • We let our light shine. 

Families choose a statement that sounds like them, or write their own.

Through this process, families end up with a set of action statements related to the values they chose. When the process is finished, you process your order by submitting your family mission statement to Glad’s website.

Paying up front 

Glad designed her products so that displayable signs of the family mission statements are included with the purchase of the kits. You can choose a poster ($75), a poster with a frame ($100) or a birch wood sign ($125).

“It’s a way to motivate families to make time to create their statement,” Glad said. “Additionally, the mission statement isn’t useful if it’s not displayed where everyone can see it every day. We use ours for parenting and financial decisions. It also helps us feel a sense of unity, and guides us as we create goals.”

The whole process takes about an hour. Our family shared the conversation starters and determined our family values and actions over the course of three dinnertime conversations. It was fun and meaningful to go through this process with our kids ages 7, 9, 11 and 13, as everyone had a voice and contributed to the product. This was a great family activity and would be fun gift idea, too.

Finding your values

Glad said the kits can work well for families with kids of any age — or even for couples expecting their first child or blended families working to create new shared value systems. 

Some parents have chosen to complete the steps as a couple and then share the results with their younger kids; others have included younger children and then adjusted the wording to make it understandable. 

Many of Glad’s clients have commented that not only do they love having a mission statement, but they also enjoyed having rich, deep family conversations — and we all know that can be hard to do organically!

Megan Devine is an elementary school teacher who lives in Northeastern Minnesota. Follow her blog — Kids, Lakes, Loons and Pines.