Written by Nicole Schwartz of Imperfect Families
In a world swirling with parenting advice, it’s easy to get sucked into the latest discipline strategy or the trending hot topics. These competing messages may cause you to lose sight of your own parenting goals.
How Creating a Family Motto Can Help You Guide and Discipline Your Kids
Creating a family motto is one way to help you focus on the things that are most important to you, and it can also help to clarify your parenting decisions.
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What Is a Family Motto?
A family motto is not just pretty words on a page. It is a meaningful, value-packed statement or series of statements that set your family apart from everyone else.
A family motto is also not a list of house rules or expectations. It’s deeper than that — it goes to the heart of what you want for your kids and your family.
Instead of a standard of perfection, a family motto is a direction, a goal — something to strive toward as you raise your children.
How to Write a Family Motto
Sit down as a family and brainstorm topics, ideas, words, values, morals, statements, Bible verses, goals, or characteristics that are important to you.
It may help to fill in the blank, “In our family we…”
- Are: patient, kind, loving, thoughtful, hardworking, honest, trustworthy, respectful, playful, compassionate, etc.
- Will: take turns, ask permission, listen, work together, help others, forgive, laugh, spend time together, etc.
Some families create a simple phrase that encompasses the main themes, while other families list the most important ones individually.
Once it’s complete, write down your family motto and post it where everyone can see it.
How a Family Motto Can Help you Teach
Most parents have a vague idea of what they’d like to teach their children, and when they try to teach or discipline their kids, the messages come out…vague! You know certain things are important, but in the moment, you forget or lose sight of the big picture.
Writing a family motto gives you an opportunity to clarify your values and goals. It provides a foundation for teaching and discipling your kids as situations come up in the future.
Here are some examples:
- When your kids are arguing about sharing the video game controller, you can refer back to the motto, saying, “In our family, we work together to find solutions.” Instead of getting sucked into their drama — and getting off track — you can use the motto to stay focused on the core message you want to instill.
- When your son comes home with a horrible grade on his math test, your first instinct may be to search for a punishment. But, as you glance at your family motto, you focus on the word, “Love.” You put the test on the counter, give him a hug, and offer a snack. Does he need to study more before the next test? Yes. But for now, the important lesson is, “I love you even when you make a mistake.”
- When you hear, “But mom, everyone else gets to go!” the family motto can keep your attention on what’s most important to you. You may feel less pressure to go along with the crowd because you know certain decisions fall outside of your values. This also gives you an opportunity to teach your child, “We only see age-appropriate movies because we do not want bad language and violence to fill our minds.”
Limits to a Family Motto
Of course there will always be gray areas of parenting that catch you off-guard or require you to re-think your initial ideals. A family motto won’t solve all of your parenting dilemmas, but it will give you a starting point.
Over time, you may find that your family motto is outdated, inconsistent, or missing important aspects. While many values stay the same over time, some change, especially as your kids grow. Call another brainstorming session and work together to fix the gaps and create a motto that encompasses more of your family’s goals and values.
Meet my Guest Writer
I am so excited to introduce you to Nicole Schwartz of Imperfect Families. As a blogger, my time to read other blogs is limited, but I often find myself compelled to read her articles. As a family therapist, Nicole has such great advice for raising kids. I hope you will check out her site and show her some love. I really appreciated this post, and it inspired me to start thinking about a family motto. Stay tuned!
Nicole Schwarz is a mom to 3 young girls, a Parent Coach with a License in Marriage and Family Therapy, and author ofPositive Parenting for Imperfect Families. Find positive parenting tips and learn more about Parent Coaching on her blog, Imperfect Families.
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