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Creating the perfect family motto
Why a family mission statement matters, and how to find yours. - photo by Erin Stewart
For a long time, I have wanted to create a family motto. Ive seen other such sentiments hanging on the walls at friends' homes, and I love the idea of having a mission statement for your family a guiding beacon to follow.

So I have been mulling over the ideals I hope I am instilling in my children and trying to scrape down to the core of what our family represents. I wanted them to have a phrase or a statement to look back on when they are older to remember who they are and who we were together.

Yes, I had some pretty high expectations for this awesome family motto that would adorn our wall and our hearts for generations to come. Is that too much to ask?

I took my request to my family during a family council one week and asked for their ideas. I explained that it should be something that we say a lot, that defines our family and can help us remember our goals.

Here is what my darling family came up with:

Farts are not weapons

Dont be an idiot

Put away your stuff

Flush the toilet

Excuse me while I have a proud mother moment.

Clearly, I have taught my children well. This must be what it means in Proverbs when it instructs parents to, Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. In my copy of the Bible, the footnote to that verse goes right to another passage that reads, Farts are not weapons.

My husband, of course, thought this was hilarious and begged me to please, oh, please have these sentiments hand-stitched on something or printed in vinyl lettering.

But these were not the eloquent statements I had in mind.

So, we kept working on it, despite a few moans and protests. In the end, we eventually steered the kids thinking toward more all-encompassing ideals rather than short-term goals of flushing toilets (although I have to say, this continues to be a problem at our house and a hand-stitched reminder on some sort of throw pillow isnt a bad idea).

As we worked toward our family motto, I tried to stick to these three ideas:

First, keep it simple. Dont try to cram every little aspiration for your children into your family motto. Pick a few things that encompass your big goals as a family.

Second, be true to you. Dont borrow someone elses motto if it doesnt fit your family. Embrace what is unique about your brood and celebrate it.

Third, include everyone. No, I didnt put in my childrens suggestions about gas weaponry, but we did come up with the ideas together as a family. Mottos shouldnt be a mandate from a parent, but a collaboration among family members about who we are and where we are going.

Eventually, we narrowed our family goals down to a few things: doing our best; being kind by putting people first; having fun; and getting back to heaven as a family.

And voila, our family motto was born:

Work hard

Laugh easily

Love always

Return together

I hope soon we will have this family motto proudly displayed in our front room so my kids can look at it and remember what our family stands for and who we can become together. They receive so many messages about their self-worth and where they should be headed in this life from other people. But in our home, I want this to be the message they receive every day of love, laughter, hard work and family.

And, if my husband gets his way, I may just post our original family motto in the basement, complete with rules on flatulence and flushing. Because after all, thats part of who we are, too.