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7 Tips for Writing a Meaningful Family Mission Statement

If you’ve ever spent time in leadership at an organization, you probably know about creating and making decisions by a shared vision, mission and goals. It’s always interesting to see if the members of that organization can even REMEMBER the mission statement six months later.

A family mission statement can be a really special thing if everyone in the family buys into it, understands why it matters, and reminds one another of it regularly. Here’s how to knock it out of the park with the process of writing a family mission statement.

Start with a Family Vision

Any good plan begins with the end in mind. A family vision doesn’t need to be in the form of a fancy statement, like you’d see in a corporation. You just need a really clear picture of how you want your family to look long into the future, perhaps in your retirement years. Here are some examples:

“We envision our entire extended family gathering at our home out in the country for holidays and long weekends. It’s a nice sized home with horses, and all our grandkids will love to come stay with us and ride. We’ll have a huge garden. Every morning, my husband and I drink coffee on the big wraparound porch and read actual books together.”

The Laid Back Country Couple

“Our vision is that when our kids are grown and having their own kids, we’ll be free to travel the world together and bring back souvenirs. Once every couple of years, we’ll pay to bring along anyone in the family who wants to join us. We will also regularly schedule long weekend trips to visit our grandkids and kids throughout the year. We will downsize and live pretty modestly when we’re at home so we can afford to keep traveling.”

The World Travelers

“When we are in our retirement years, we want to live in our small town, within a few blocks of all our kids so we can regularly drop into each other’s homes. We’ll continue to be very involved in our church. We don’t want it to be a special event when we see our grandkids – just a normal part of life! Each week, everyone will gather at a specific time for a big family breakfast or dinner. I’ll be the cook and enjoy entertaining each week.”

The Close Knit Family

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Hone in on Your Family Values Next

As you think about your ideal retirement years, some values will start to form.

All three of these families in the section above value their relationship with their children. None of their visions can come to pass without healthy relationships with their kids.

The World Travelers and the Country Couple both need a certain about of financial security or even wealth to make their dreams come true. Horses and jet setting around the world do not come cheap.

At first glance, it looks like The Close Knit Family only requires healthy relationships to be happy; but they also value faith, hospitality, and slow pace of life.

Mama on the Homestead has a great post that includes guiding questions that can help you establish your family values. Raising Kids With Purpose has another great post about identifying your family values.

flow chart showing order of writing a family mission statement

How Family Values Influence Your Family Mission Statement

A family mission statement is just a way to express how their values become actionable.

  • If you envision a future where your family wants to all be together, how do you treat each other today?
  • How do you handle your money today in order to achieve your long-term vision?
  • If you want your kids to have a great education and the careers they desire, what choices and sacrifices need to be made today?
  • If you want your family to have a huge collection of travel memories, what must you prioritize about your life right now?

However you want your family life to look in retirement, you’ll need to start DOING things a certain way now. The way you generally do things is basically your mission statement. You’ll use your family mission statement to guide your decisions, both big and small.

What is a family mission statement?

A mission statement for any organization is just the reason why the organization exists.

The same is true for a family mission statement. What is your shared purpose?

If you were to articulate your family’s reason for doing life together, it probably wouldn’t be to just “survive” until life settles down.

Your purpose should not be to just “manage this thing we’ve created.”

Instead, imagine a beautiful future together (create a shared vision for your family), and then backwards plan to craft a statement about how you’ll do life in the meantime to accomplish that vision.

How to Write a Family Mission Statement

Writing a family mission statement probably isn’t something you can check off your list in one date night. It is probably going to be the result of ongoing conversation about your vision and values as a family.

First, remember these important things about writing a mission statement.

  1. The statement needs to be meaningful to all the relevant adults in the family. Everyone needs to be excited about this statement, since it’s going to serve as guidance for your daily life.
  2. While not everyone needs to be involved in sentence syntax, word choice, and grammar, you should engage your partner (if you have one) in the lead-up discussions about the content of the mission statement.
  3. It also needs to be fairly short and memorable, because you can’t use something regularly if it requires you to look it up on your phone, stop everyone in their tracks, and re-read a lengthy statement.
  4. To the first point, this shouldn’t be something you can purchase in a store and hang on your wall. It should be unique to your family and based on a long-term future you’re trying to achieve.

Second, begin the writing process.

The writing process has four steps in this case: brainstorming and pre-writing, first draft, revising and editing, and publishing (or final copy).

Brainstorming and pre-writing (done together)

  1. Talk about your vision with your partner (or if a single parent, spend quality, focused time alone) creating your family vision. How do you hope your family will look when you’re in the retirement years?
  2. Write down a concise list of family values that are required for the future you want to build. Examples: honesty, gentleness, togetherness, frugality, worldliness, faithfulness
  3. Consider the changes that need to happen TODAY to start living into those values. Examples: A) In order to eat dinner together at the table more often, we’ll have to stop playing travel ball; B) In order to make memories together in travel ball, we need to make financial sacrifices elsewhere; or C) In order to live out our faith, we need to slow down our lives and make time for prayer and Bible study.
  4. Adults and mature teenagers need to agree collectively on these changes. If kids are not involved in the process, now is the time to talk with them about the future you’re trying to build. Remember, everyone needs to know the WHY when hard changes are coming up!
  5. Look at examples of other family mission statements. Discuss what you like about the formatting, and what will necessarily be different about your own. Remember, this is not a copy/paste activity. It needs to be inspired by your own family’s dreams.
family around the dinner table discussing the family mission statement

Drafting (done alone)

When I suggest you do this alone, I don’t mean without prior input. You are now simply writing alone, but trying to incorporate the most important concepts from previous discussions.

You won’t be able to include every idea that was brought to the table. Sometimes, a contribution just won’t align with the core values you’re trying to put into actionable form.

Try to work at the time of the day when your brain is at its best. You’ll want to set aside time to focus only on the mission statement without other distracting commitments. Work hard on being concise and reflecting only the most important parts of your family discussion. It should be something easy to memorize.

I think you should avoid a bulleted list, like the kinds you see written on canvas from mega stores and home decor shops. These are difficult to remember, unless you limit them to five or fewer and use an acronym.

The scope of your mission statement is important. It should be narrow enough that it actually MEANS something, without being so limiting that it doesn’t leave room for debating important decisions.

For example, a mission statement like this one doesn’t leave room for creativity, debate, or future lifestyle changes. It also manages to be vague in a really important way:

“Our family believes in generosity, so we always give away as much of our money as possible.”

If you want to have a family vacation because you also believe in quality time together and making memories, this mission statement won’t serve you well.

Further, doesn’t it matter WHO you’re interested in serving with your financial resources?

However, a mission statement like this is too broad, so it doesn’t actually mean anything at all:

“Our family believes in being generous.”

Generous with what? Your time, money, or resources? To what end? How does being generous shape the way everyone in the home lives their lives?

Revising and Editing

You worked hard on your family mission statement, but be prepared for feedback. Remember, even best-selling authors go through the revising and editing process with an editor.

Revising is when you move things around to clarify meaning, or add and subtract information. You might need to use a more powerful word choice, or eliminate a clause that’s not completely necessary.

Editing is when you work to improve spelling, grammar, capitalization and punctuation.

If your partner or older kids don’t know what you mean by a certain phrase in your mission statement, that’s a great sign that you need to go back to the drawing board.

Final Copy

If you have significant changes to make on your mission statement after getting feedback from the family, it might be best to take a beat before working to incorporate them. Very often, your mind will need time to ruminate on the changes to be made.

Take a breather, and continue the process of refining your mission statement another day.

The final copy should be printed somewhere that everyone can access it easily. If you’re dealing with all teenagers, your final copy might be digital so everyone can find it quickly on their phones. With smaller kids, large, easy to read print in a shared part of the house can be really helpful! It might be fun to turn your mission statement into homemade wall art.

post it note that says more family time

Family Mission Statement Examples

Here are some family mission statement examples. Notice that the core family values are clear, the scope is appropriately sized, and the mission statement is not crazy long. You can definitely tell a lot about what’s most important to each family.

“We love discovering the diversity of the world around us, so we sacrifice some nice things to travel together often. We love each other well and we delight in ALL God’s people around the world.”

By this statement, you can tell a LOT about the family. They love travel, exploring world cultures, spending quality time together, learning a lot, and that faith is probably important to them. They probably are going to have to forego fancy cars, expensive extracurricular activities and more in order to share these experiences.

Our family is active, competitive, and healthy. We make time to care for each other and for our own bodies and minds. We support each other as we all pursue excellence and celebrate all our victories.”

You can probably tell that this family LOVES to compete and be involved in everything their community and school has to offer. They probably don’t have a lot of free time, but they value the time spent on the road cheering for each other.

“Our family values health in all its forms: mental, physical and spiritual. We take care of ourselves by spending time in nature, moving our bodies, reading, meditating, listening to music, and being creative. We love each other well by supporting each other’s well being at all times.”

This family prioritizes their health above all other things, and probably doesn’t need much social interaction to be happy. They are quite creative and they care about their kids entering the world as healthy as possible.

“We raise our kids to be aware and informed about the injustices in this world, so that we can be smart, productive citizens with the power to make a difference in our community. We hold each other accountable for growing and evolving into the best possible version of ourselves.

family of three playing together on the couch and laughing

Using your Family Mission Statement to Guide Decision Making

Every time you face a decision as the adult(s) in the family, you’ll want to check back with your family mission statement to help guide the way.

The mission statement should be front and center at every budget discussion, for example. The mission statement should take priority each time you look over the monthly or weekly calendar, too!

For example, let’s imagine you’ve got $500 left over at the end of the month. Yay! Consult your mission statement to decide where you should invest the money. Should it go in a vacation fund or a college fund? What about setting it aside to be used on classes or lessons for the kids? Another family might choose to spend it charitably or make an extra payment on the house.

Let’s imagine you feel like there’s not nearly enough time in your day. You’re always stressed and becoming short-tempered with your family. As you look over the calendar, you realize you or your kids have commitments almost every night of the week. You’re slowly gaining weight because you’re eating out too often.

Your family mission reads, “We raise our kids to be aware and informed about the injustices in this world, so that we can be smart, productive citizens with the power to make a difference in our community. We hold each other accountable for growing and evolving into the best possible version of ourselves.

You realize that because of being overcommitted as a whole family, you’re not personally being a “productive citizen” and you’re certainly not evolving into “the best possible version” of yourself. Sure, your kids are becoming little social justice warriors through their various committees and volunteer initiatives, and you’re proud of them. But they also need a mom who has love to give and enough mental health to lead the family.

What’s a mom to do? Call a family meeting. Revisit the mission statement together, if the kids are old enough to join in. Begin the hard process of cutting back on commitments until everyone is in a healthier space.

How can we choose family goals?

Writing family goals is a wonderful way to make sure your mission statement is lived out on a daily, monthly and yearly basis. Family goals are where we start to see some behavioral changes that will lead to long-term alignment with the family mission.

Creating family goals is a great time to incorporate kids of all ages in the process. Even young kids can talk about how they’ll try to live out the family’s mission in practical ways.

I think quarterly is a great frequency to revisit and reflect on your family goals. Using your family mission statement as a guide, look at how each family member can contribute to the mission in a tangible way.

Remember that S.M.A.R.T. goals need to be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound.

Here are some make-believe goals that correspond with our make-believe mission statements. Notice how they align well with each family’s core values and mission.

Mission Statement and Goals for Family #1:

Mission Statement: “We love discovering the diversity of the world around us, so we sacrifice some nice things to travel together often. We love each other well and we delight in ALL God’s people around the world.”

Goals:

  • Find an extra $500 per month in the family budget for the next 12 months.
  • Plan a budget-friendly family trip to Peru for next summer and put down deposit.
  • Kids will raise money to go on their first mission trip to New Mexico with their youth group.
  • Incorporate five new recipes this quarter from different parts of the world.
  • Implement one new special Christmas tradition from another part of the world.

PS – If this sounds like your family, you’ve got to check out this post about Universal Yums! It was such a fun way to bring some world culture to our dinner table last Christmas!

Mission Statement and Goals for Family #2:

Our family is active, competitive, and healthy. We make time to care for each other and for our own bodies and minds. We support each other as we all pursue excellence and celebrate all our victories.”

Goals:

  • Run a family 5K this year. Train for the 5K on the weekends together all year.
  • Help each kid discover one new extracurricular activity they enjoy that stretches them beyond their comfort zone. Make sure most of the family is present to cheer them on for big competition days.
  • Take three day trips this year to nearby parks for family hiking adventures.
pinterest pin for family mission statement

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