Being Intentional About Family Culture
Several years ago, when I was a new mom, I remember a colleague of mine chastising me for not to putting up a Christmas tree on that particular year. “Alison,” she said, “traditions are important. This is your daughter’s childhood”.
Maybe she was a bit crazy (my daughter was only a year old after all), but now, eight years later, I can see where she was coming from. Traditions ARE important. What we decide to include and exclude in our regular family life DOES matter.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the environment we create in our homes, and what makes us unique from other families. We all spend our time and money differently. We do things differently. There are no carbon copy families.
I find the variety quite refreshing, don’t you?
I have some extended family members that are really into hunting and fishing and they even have the wardrobe to go with it. While my kids were learning to ride a bike, theirs were learning to put a worm on a line, steer a boat, or fire a gun. And while we plan for the upcoming holiday seasons, they plan for the hunting seasons.
They have a very different family culture than we do. Never in a million years would I want to spend a day hiding out in the bush, covered in bugs, trying to scope out an animal. Seriously. I’ve heard that even the women pee into hand held urinals. Nope. I can’t imagine the level of commitment to an activity that would entice me to do that! But they LOVE it!
What do you love to do? What shared activities tie you together as a family? What is included in your own family culture?
What is family culture anyway?
In the same way that a country or ethnic group may have its own particular traditions, customs, practices, and values, families also each have their own unique culture.
Here are some unique practices, values, and activities that I have seen in various family cultures:
- hunting, fishing, hiking, camping
- reading (a favourite podcast of mine is dedicated to building your family culture around books)
- participation in, or appreciation of, the arts
- service (church, community, etc.)
- food & eating
- gaming, technology, and comic-con
The list is really endless though. Families are like snowflakes, no two are exactly alike!
Why is Family Culture important?
Family culture is important. The Culture you create within your home will:
- shape who your children become
- influence how your children identify themselves
- contribute to their sense of belonging
- form the habits and roles they will perform later in life
- shape the next generation through the values you pass on
The culture you create in your home has the power to influence not only those who live within the four walls of your home, but may even extend to your larger community.
Whether you realize it or not, your family has its own culture. You may not even be aware of some of the components of your family culture!
And here’s a sobering thought, if you are not intentional about building the family culture you want, you just may absorb the culture that surrounds you (for better or for worse!).
This is why it is so important that we be intentional about what kind of culture we are building in our homes!
Here are some simple ways to build the culture you want:
- Decide to spend your time, money, and resources in areas that reflect your values.
- Actively seek activities that reflect your values and reject those that don’t.
- Share family stories and history.
- Encourage a collective identity — the sense of “this is who we are”.
- Celebrate each other and your uniqueness.
While the basis of many of our choices are often serious values and beliefs, how these are reflected in various families can vary greatly
. For example, many families place a high importance on health and well being. How each family choses to reflect that value however, can be quite different. One family may express it through participation in athletics and sport, another through a commitment to healthy eating, and still another by prioritizing activities in the outdoors.
So have some fun creating family traditions and building a strong family culture that reflects your values! And know that doing so will enrich the lives of those you love most. and invest in the future of your family.
I’d love to hear about what makes your family unique! Tell me in the comments below what traditions, habits, or values tie the members of your family together <3