The beauty of a family motto is that it provides a very concise guide to your family values and ideals. The danger of a set of words or a phrase that could fit on a bumper sticker or in a meme is that it becomes a simple slogan and no more.
In an age of soundbites and tweets and Facebook posts taking over for real communication, words still matter. It’s worth it to take time to create a family motto. But don’t just write it and put it away. Don’t create it and let it stagnate. Writing your family motto is only the beginning. Use your family motto. Live it.
Breathing Life into Family Mottos
Remember that your motto is your family mission statement. It helps you define who you are as a family—and what you do.
Your family motto can become a filter or litmus test you use when making decisions about anything from where to go on vacation, how to spend your weekends or what to eat.
If adventure and daring are part of your family values, you’ll plan a different vacation than a family that values culture or relaxing together. Do you value nature, physical challenge, new experiences? All these can show up in how you plan your time off.
And what about weekends? If you value helping others, maybe you choose to volunteer as a family on weekends. That may mean prioritizing volunteering over other activities. That can be hard to do in a busy world, but having clearly stated values and a mission make it easier to focus on what’s important to your family and filter out other things.
Using Family Mottos Throughout Life
Like any mission or guide, you may want to revisit your family motto from time to time. Maybe you schedule a family meeting for December when you do a year in review or hold one every January to talk about family goals for the year.
While values tend to hold firm, how they show up in our life, the way they challenge us, or the priority of each value compared with the others can change over time.
Maybe your schedules and interests change. You may get a new job. Your kids may want to get involved in new activities. Your family motto may guide you on both fronts. Will the demands of the job fit with your family mission? Maybe it takes up more time, but gives you more income to support a cause you believe in. Maybe it feels like a step down but offers more flexibility. Family mottos are for all of the family.
Your kids’ needs and schedules change too. If you create a family motto when they are very young, you have a lot of control over what your family does. As they grow and get connected more to a wider community, your family motto may get tested. That does not mean it needs to change, but maybe the way you live it shifts.
How do you balance the value you place on education and family time as homework loads grow? How do you balance individual interests and the time commitment that goes with practices and lessons and meetings with your family commitment to making the world a better place?
There is no one answer to any of these questions, but there is a guide to the figuring out the answers.Your family motto is your touchstone as you navigate decisions in your family’s life. It’s good to check in when you have a choice to make or as your situation changes.
Over the holidays this year, our family took the time to revisit our motto. We started using it when the kids were 12, 10 and 6. Now they are all adults with values of their own. Although we all still agree that the values of Love, Laughter and Living are core values for our family, we are working on a new motto to incorporate their unique personalities while still honoring what we all hold dear as a family. It has been a fun conversation that has shown me how much we share and how having our family sayings (for example Be Present, Explore, Find the Fun, Care For Each Other, Connect) has had an impact on how we interact and live as a family and in the world.
By revisiting your motto regularly, you’ll find yourself truly living your values, and you’ll have a powerful tool to keep you on track with the life your family wants.
What does living your family motto look like in your life?
Share your thoughts in comments.
Don’t have a family motto? Create yours now using my step-by-step guide.