Where Are You Going? {2021} The Importance of a Family Motto


Your family is headed in a direction. Do you know what direction that is? Is it the direction you want them to go?

Last year it was in vogue for everyone to pick their “word” for the year. Five years ago, family mission statements.

Whether a word or a mission statement, the sentiment is the same: a family motto gives direction.

Often as moms of small children, we can feel lost in the everyday actions: the cooking, the cleaning, the carrying, the non-stop physical needs. We wonder if these matter much more past keeping them alive. We wonder if they have any effect on their character and who they will become.

They do.

The work you do every day, mama, matters. The small things mold your child’s character, change your heart, and steer your family.

You must decide what your long-term vision is. You must decide what your dreams for your family are. When you act through this lens – even the small everyday actions, your family moves closer to your goal.

Growing up, my family’s unofficial and often spoken motto was, “You snooze, you lose.” We were efficient, practical, early risers, and hard-working.

My own house has two mottos.

The first is adapted from what wasn’t spoken but was lived out by my family growing up.

Do what you can, for who you can, when you can.

As an adult reflecting on my childhood and continuing to watch my parents now, it is clear that was the unspoken motto.

My parents live with an authentic generosity continuously serving each other and others without any expectation of reciprocity. My grandparents in their moderate means looked for others with greater needs. The generosity, the gratitude, and the humility cultivated for generations are what I want for myself, my husband, and my children.

We adopted the second phrase the moment I got the phone call diagnosing me with breast cancer three years ago:

Choose Joy.

My husband and I immediately decided that we were going to choose joy that day and all the days to come, whatever they may bring.

It is not a forced joy…it is genuine and full of gratitude. We model for our children what this looks like on good days and bad. We align our attitudes and actions with appreciation and celebration instead of complaining and defeat.

This year, I urge you to spend a lot less time comparing what your family does to what other families do and a lot more time comparing what your family does to the values you want to develop in your family.

I often assume what I am thinking is obvious. I assume that “of course” everyone has the same character goals for their children that I do. And in that assumption, I make the mistake of not speaking them out loud…because they are, well, obvious.

The harsh reality of adulthood is that not everyone has the same values.

Not everyone thinks that the goals I treasure are worthwhile. For that reason, even more, it is important that my husband and I speak aloud with each other what our character goals are for our children and then continuously speak them and model them to our children.

Successful parenting is about pursuing the long game even in the short moments.

What direction will your family go?