Inside you’ll find an in depth guide to creating a family culture. This is part of a series so be sure to check out the other posts as they come…
Sometimes I lay awake at night wondering if my children will call me when they move out.
I wish I was kidding.
Will they look back on our family life together as something they cherish? What will they remember the fun times we had? Will all the time we spent together add up to “magical memories” or will they move out and move on?
I’ve always envisioned a super long table where I would gather with my kids, their spouses, and my gaggle of grand kids. It’d be a dream come true.
But how do I make this happen?
Being a mother is my greatest passion and day in and day out I love these kids. I feed them, bathe them, and try to teach them about life.
But still… I wondered… what is that “secret” ingredient that strong families had? And how can I copy it?
Turns out… it’s not a secret.
A bit of research…
After doing quite a bit of research on this topic I’ve come to an encouraging and positive conclusion. It isn’t how much money you spend on your kids that counts.
Also, it’s not what school you send them to or how many sports you enroll them in. Believe it or not, it isn’t even how big your house is or how many vacations you take.
One of the biggest predictors of a strong and happy family who love each other through life is this…
It Comes Down to Family Culture
Last month we went out to a seafood restaurant. 6 adults and 10 kids, all aged 7 and under.
People around us could barely eat their dinner they were so horrified. We, on the other hand, were used to it. Lots of kids are part of our life. We ate fish, crab dip, salads, burgers, and grilled cheese.
We enjoyed the atmosphere of this nice restaurant because, like the French, we don’t want to be relegated to fast food just because we have little ones.
As we were leaving we passed a dance floor with a live band. I looked at my husband and said…
“Let’s dance for a song or two.”
He shrugged his shoulders and said, “Why not?”
We held true to a culture of ours…
So there, near the dance floor in this nice beach restaurant, my husband, myself and our 6-year-old, 5-year-old, 4-year old, 2-year old, and 1-year old danced.
We held hands and twirled each other and laughed and smiled. The baby squirmed up and down on my hip and clapped. We enjoyed the Motown music until it was finished then we walked to the car.
This is normal for us.
The Normans like to dance and sing together for fun.
It’s part of our family culture. It’s one simple thing that makes us who we are.
What is Family Culture?
Your family culture is the traditions, habits, practices, and values your family has. It’s who you are as a family.
Furthermore, it is what makes you different than all the other families in the world. It’s your family identity.
Some of you might be thinking… “I don’t think we have a family culture.”
Every family has culture…
As previously stated, culture is defined as traditions, habits, values, and practices. So, just begin by asking yourself some questions like these:
- Are you readers?
- Do you watch a lot of movies with the kids?
- Are morning or bedtime devotions a normal part of your day?
- What are your family meal habits?
- What do you do on the weekends?
- Where are some regular places you go?
- How do you treat one another?
- Do you have any family sayings or mottos?
As a guide, use this Family Culture printable pack to begin thinking about what makes your family unique. It isn’t the social media worthy stuff, it’s the normal every day moments.
More questions to consider:
Is faith a large part of your family culture?
Does your family love to watch and play sports?
Are you a brainy family who loves games and challenges?
Do you play lots of board games?
Do you have Taco Tuesdays or Cinnamon Roll Saturdays or Roast Sundays?
Your family culture – when purposefully and continually nurtured – becomes the protective fence around your family where everyone feels safety and belonging.
The Rhodes family love the outdoors. As a family of 5 (2 parents, 3 elementary aged kids) they love hiking, biking, and exploring the mountains around their home in Colorado.
They enjoy being active as a family and go camping a few times a year. Mama Rhodes is a health enthusiast and grows a garden in their backyard which the kids help keep up.
Papa Rhodes likes to fix things in his spare time and loves teaching the kids how things work. They value time together as a family and taking care of the environment.
The Rhodes Family Culture: the outdoors, togetherness, an active lifestyle, respect, and taking care of the environment.
Why Family Culture is Important
Years ago Nurture Shock shared an interesting fact about sibling rivalry… it isn’t how often your children fight that determines the quality of their relationship, but how often they have fun and meaningful moments together.
Families are the same.
“The dust-ups that dot other days don’t disappear; they’re just overshadowed. That’s a common theme in happy families, I now realized.
All families have conflict; strong families have enough communal high points to outshine the low ones.” Secrets of Happy Families
All in all, the reason family culture is so important is that it makes up the little moments.
How you value family members, how you deal with conflict, how you respond with love while disciplining, and the rest of your normal Mom Jobs all make up your family culture.
It’s the little moments that matter…
The goal is not to reach for Grand Gestures or High Heights, but to capitalize on and emphasize the normal moments of family life that matter.
Furthermore, you don’t necessarily need to do more things, you just need to emphasize and repeat the things you already do and love.
The Norman Family (us) like to talk. We like to be loud and kinda wild and laugh a lot. We like to play outside, swim, and get muddy or sandy.
Also, we like to take trips, stay in hotels, and eat queso dip at Mexican restaurants. We like reading books, hearing daddy’s scary Bible stories, and having big family roughhousing and cuddling times.
“Activities that give us durable happiness are the ones we have a hand in creating.
We don’t just sit back and receive pleasure (fun with family, etc.). We actually generate the pleasure ourselves.” Secrets of Happy Families
3 Ways to Create a Strong Family Culture
Luckily, once you’ve figured out the parts of your family culture and identity you already have… the rest is easy peasy.
You may look at your current family culture and want to add a few traditions or rituals here or there, and that’s great, but remember it’s the normal every day things of life that your children will remember.
1) Make it visual
Use the editable printable I created and write out your family mottos, values, or traditions then hang it up! When your child exhibits a behavior that’s consistent with your family’s values and cultures point it out.
Don’t be afraid to be cheesy and “over the top.”
Make your home a place that showcases your values and family life. Hang up the kids’ pictures, display art you believe in or quotes and Bible verses that are an encouragement to you.
In the same way countries fly flags, display your values in pride.
2) Create regular rituals and traditions
Within your normal day have certain rituals with your kids. This may be morning routines, dinner time routines (here is a printable and editable dinner time theme conversation for you), bedtime routines, or weekend traditions.
If you occasionally make pancakes on Saturday mornings and the kids love it, why not do it most Saturdays?
If you often stop by the store for a lollipop after church, why not call it a tradition?
Children love doing something over and over again and these are touch points in their lives they’ll remember.
3) Reinforce your family culture by elaboration and repetition
When you know the rituals, traditions, and values your family has, be sure to talk about them often.
This helps children feel a sense of security and belonging and makes the family unit something to be proud of. Also, one of my favorite things to say is this…
I place “our family” in front of these values and say them on repeat…
- is kind to one another.
- loves books.
- doesn’t leave anyone out.
- rude people don’t get rewards.
- loves the beach.
- loves watching movies together.
Now, I’m not saying the kids are always kind or that they want to read books or they include each other all the time, but I try to communicate the things we value with “our family.”
In fact… when my kids are mad… this is one of their all-time biggest insults.
“You’re not in the family!!!!!!!!!!”
Family Culture Series
- Post 1: Family Culture: An Ultimate Guide To Building Strong Families (you are here)
- The 2nd Article: Family Values: How To Determine Then Live Out What Matters Most
- Post 3: Family Traditions: The Indisputable Benefits of Family Rituals
- Family Identity: The Thing Tight Knit Families Have That Distant Families Don’t (Pt. 4)
Embrace Your Family Culture
Firstly, you may find you want to add a few routines or rituals to your family life. Likewise, you might see some rituals or habits your family does you don’t believe in.
This will happen.
The idea is not to give yourself a bunch of To-Do’s, but to figure out what is at the core your family.
You’ll want to pin point what you believe in, what you like to spend time doing, and how you want your family to be characterized.
“If you want to have a happier family, find some family members, make some time, and play.” Secrets of Happy Families
Let’s keep it simple…
In my quest to strengthen our own family culture and help you strengthen yours, I made a beautifully functional Family Culture Pack for you.
Use it to brainstorm your family values, then edit the template and print your own family values to frame or hang on the fridge.
Furthermore, you can nail down the aspects of your family culture you already have and those that are lacking.
Begin locking in your own family culture today.