Establishing a Family Culture {Guest Post}

This guest post is from our dear friend, Brina Sauer. Leave her some love. // Jenna

In the corporate world the newest trend is towards companies developing a so called "company culture". Google and various other companies like Zappos, and Infusionsoft have led this trend, and it's not only working to make their companies more profitable, it's garnering for them the oh-so-important employee "buy in."

"Buy-in," according to Wikipedia (who knows all), signifies the commitment of interested or affected parties to a decision to 'buy into' the decision, that is, to agree to give it support,  often by having involvement in its formulation.

Okay, so what does that mean for me and my family?

Well, here it is. For Google, Zappos, Infusionsoft and the like, employees have some say in what is important for them, what motivates them. These companies revolve around their employees (to some degree), and in return their employees revolve around them.

If you have ever met anyone who works for Infusionsoft, they are the best marketing tool their company has. I mean, who doesn't want to do business with a company whose employees (at every level) talk about their job with an "all-out" enthusiasm. Seriously, you'd just about think they are serving"special kool-aid" in the break room... Which by the way, that break room  has about a billion different kinds of cereal as one of the perks. (Ok, might not want to quote me on the billion thing.)

The correlation here is the "buy-in." How can we as a family establish something worth buying into, and better yet how can I get my kids to "drink the kool-aid," so to speak.

As my children are getting older, I am beginning to realize their need to have some say in how our family functions. It is my job as parent (COO) to give them the opportunity to be heard and valued for their input.  Obviously, this needs to be set within specific parameters where our children can feel they have something vital to contribute, and can do so safely, without fear of ridicule or rejection.

My husband and I have always talked about how we believe every family has its own charism. One of our family's main charisms is generosity. I do not say this to brag, but quite the opposite. I say this to remind myself of who "we" are. When I say "we" I mean the Sauer family. This is who we as a family have DECIDED to be. This is one of our pillars. This is one area of our family that my kids can find an identity in. "BUY-IN."

Finding identity in your specific family is something so special and can contribute to a solid sense of self confidence as our children begin adolescence. It's more than just saying (which I so often do), "Sauer's don't do that." This goes deeper, because the children helped create the identity (or family culture), and you as the parent obtained their "buy-in" when you gave them the opportunity to have some say in what defines the family culture.

So here are some practical applications and tips for establishing your own family culture.

Establishing a Family Culture

Draft a family mission statement.

If you have children, especially older ones, you MUST include them in order to get them to "buy-in"  to the vision. (We remember this from our wiki definition.) Simplicity is key here, It should be no longer than a sentence or 2. Then follow up your mission statement with "pillars" approximately 3-5. These pillars will be the vehicle for helping you attain your mission.

For example if your mission is to

"Live a well balanced life, in constant pursuit of knowledge, truth, and goodness."

*Well-Balanced Life: well balanced life could mean that healthy activity and exercise is important to your family, this could include eating habits, as well.

*Knowledge: expectation of high academic achievement, or pursuit of degrees, etc.

*Truth: this could mean simply not lying to each other, keeping our promises including our marriage vows, or could mean our faith, and whatever creed we keep.

*Goodness: this could mean a constant pursuit of our own personal goodness and desires live justly, and in harmony with others. But this may also include the desire to see goodness in all persons.

**Note: You do not have to include all of your pillars verbatim in your mission statement, it's just an example, but your pillars should always lead to your mission. **

Have your children discuss things that are important to them. Activities and sports can have a place here... travel... family time... this is their chance to be heard and have some "say." You might have a heated discussion about why social media didn't make the pillars list, but have them defend it and be able to show how "the Sauer family should/could be defined by social media." I think they will quickly see that they do not want to be defined by Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter.

Once this is established, we then make attempts to have everything we devote our (valuable) time to, lead back to the fulfillment of our family mission. We are then creating our family culture and praying for our children to feel like they AGREE with the purpose of our family. I want them to know they were raised intentionally and there were more meaningful reasons for our decisions. I want them to feel like being part of "Team Sauer" has its perks... It sure does for me.

Here is a printable just for you and your family to establish your family culture:

Establish a Family Culture

download here.

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One other thing, if we see that the pillars that have been established are continually not being lived up to by one or more of the members, it is important to address the matter, and decide as a body if it is time to change, or adapt the pillars to better suit the family in its current state.

It's family dynamics for a reason... It's an ever changing entity. Flexibility is key. Our pillars should leave room for evolution, but still offer the strong subtle guidance of our family values.

Have you ever thought of drafting a family mission statement?