What are the values that your family holds? Taking time to think and talk
about them is a way for parents to convey them to their children. This
communication also engenders a sense of belonging to the group, as all the
members work toward the same goals.
An effective way to work on this would be the following process:
parents talk between themselves about what is important to them.
parents tell their children about these values.
entire family discusses the values so that everyone understands them.
parents guide all family members to make sure that actions match the stated
Once the parents have decided that this is an approach they want to take,
they tell their children and have a family discussion about it, possibly at the
dinner table. They help the children to understand what the benefits are when
all members of the family do this.
To enforce the importance of this statement, they could: have a set
dinner time, ask for children’s suggestions in planning the meal, find ways
for children to help with meal preparation, and be sure to include all family
members in table discussions.
If they put their efforts toward making this an enjoyable time for family
members to share each other’s company and gather family solidarity from it,
then the children will continue to value the time together.
The family mission statement can cover a wide diversity of values to be
decided, first by the parents and then by all members. Consider any of these
topics for inclusion in yours:
way money will be saved and spent
importance of education
amount of family time you will spend together
importance of activities outside the home and school
responsibilities each member of the family will have toward maintaining the
In next week’s column, I will give you some guiding points to help you
get started in creating your family’s mission statement.
Jay Davidson lives in Palo Alto, California and has been teaching in San
Francisco for 31 years; he teaches first grade. He is the author of Teach
Your Children Well: A Teacher’s Advice for Parents, which is
available from Amazon.com for $12.95. He can be reached through his website at