Home is the place where we first receive and practice love. It’s our first view of relationships. It’s the place where we (hopefully) experience acceptance, compassion, affirmation, and solace. Home is where we are shaped by the words and actions of those around us and by the atmosphere, the traditions, the routines, and the day-to-day experiences that we are provided.
All stories begin at home, and for us parents, we have an incredible opportunity because each and every day, we are writing the beginning of our children’s stories.
The question is, then, what story are we telling?
This is a broad topic which I cover in depth in my forthcoming book, Positive Parenting: An Essential Guide. Here, I will outline the 7 pillars of family culture mentioned in the book. Intentional, positive parents must create a plan and set themselves to the mission of crafting a beautiful beginning.
Without putting thought into the family culture we want to create, we will fall into a default culture created haphazardly over time.
7 Pillars of Family Culture:
Pillar #1: Values
Deciding what values you want to pass on to your children is a great starting point for creating your family culture because those values will determine your own behavior and the expectations you hold for yourself as well as the children. Values are predominantly learned through the example you provide.
In my book, I say this: “It’s counterproductive to say respect is a family value if disrespect is often shown in the home. These values should be upheld so that they become simply a way of being and relating.”
Pillar #2: Dispositions
Disposition is defined as the quality of your mind and character. Your disposition must be brought under control to reflect your values and to create a positive home atmosphere. Allowing yourself to be very moody, easily shaken or angered, critical, or negative will have a poor effect on your family culture.
Bringing the quality of your mind and character in line with the culture you want to establish is easier said than done, but it is key. And while striving for excellence is good, we will never be perfect people living in a perfect family. Therefore, it’s important to learn to respect each other’s differences and quirks so that we can live in harmony.
Pillar #3: Expectations
Norman Vincent Peale said, “We tend to get what we expect.” I’ve found this to be quite true. If I expect to have a difficult, rushed day, I will have one. If I expect my children to get on my nerves, they will. Expectations are important because they color the way we view people, things, and situations. What you expect from your partner sets an example for what your children should expect of theirs one day. What you expect of yourself (whether too much or too little) is also being catalogued in your children’s minds.
Going further, what you expect from society, politicians, servers, police, etc. is being learned. What you expect in regard to lack or abundance, hardship or blessing, good luck or bad is being passed right down to your children, as are your partner’s. It’s easy to see how all these expectations play a part in shaping the family culture.
Pillar #4: Habits
Like our values and expectations, children pick up our habits, whether good or bad. Therefore, it is wise to drop any habit you don’t want your child to pick up. We must drop the “do as I say, not as I do” nonsense and realize that it is our example that speaks the loudest. Also, of course, some habits are just detrimental to the family and must be confronted before they cause lasting harm.
Pillar #5: Communication
Positive communication skills build positive bonds. I’ve written about communicating positively with children here. To summarize, this includes active listening (listening for the purpose of understanding, not just waiting your turn to get your point across), using respectful language and tone, empathizing with the speaker, being direct and assertive, and avoiding criticism and harsh words.
Pillar #6: Conflict Resolution
Even in the most connected families, conflict sometimes arises. Though this is really part of positive communication, it is so vital that it deserves its own discussion. This involves emotional intelligence and peaceful ways to talk the issue through and reach an agreement. This is a skill that takes a lot of time and practice to master and should be modeled in the home by the adults as well.
Pillar #7: Traditions
Traditions and rituals help every member of the family feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves. They solidify the family unit. I’ve written about the benefits of family traditions in this post.
Research has shown that family culture may play a more important role in shaping children than parenting style, and the type of culture a family creates strongly predicts happiness. This is the story of your home. Write it with vision.