Guest Post written by Robyna of The Mummy and The Minx
Do you ever think about your family’s culture? What makes your family special? The reasons (apart from familial obligation) that you want to spend time together?
I must admit, when I hear the word “culture” I am thrown back into my corporate days. During workshops and brainstorming meetings we would discuss our corporate culture and how to weave it into the very fabric of our organisation.
At first, applying that word to my family felt a little strange. Like holding family meetings and taking minutes. But in reality, it is very important. You can call it family identity, values or guiding principles, but every family has its own unique culture. It is something worth celebrating, worth thinking about and worth cementing.
Positive family culture isn’t something that just happens. I think it takes thought and care. My own sons are quite young but I know that as they become older a sense of self and belonging will become increasingly important. That’s why I think family culture is so integral. I want my children to be secure in their identity, their role within our family and their value in larger society. That all starts within the family unit.
The things my family holds particularly dear are:
KINDNESS – If you can help someone, you should. Be liberal with kindness. Particularly to those in your family.
RESPECT – Treat other people with care, making sure they know they are valued. Treat things with respect.
CREATIVITY & EXPLORATION – Let your imagination run wild, explore and create. Don’t worry about being perfect, just have fun.
Other families might put more emphasis on sport, academic pursuits, reading, health, cooking, being outdoorsy, music, religion – any number of things. And many of those things are handed down through generations.
My affinity with creativity comes from own family. With an artist for a father and a fashion-designing mother, I was immersed in creative pursuits from a young age. It’s something I cherish and something I want my children to experience.
My husband always puts family first. I think it’s a legacy he inherited from his own family’s culture. He is still very close with his sisters and mother and would do anything for them. As they would for him. I see it when he spends time with his own boys – just how much he would do for them. How much he does for them.
So how do you build a strong family culture?
- TALK ABOUT IT. Talk about what makes your family, your family. What are the things that are most important to you?
- SHARE FAMILY MEALS, without the television on. We try to do this every night, a little tricky with a baby and a fussy six year old, but I feel like it’s so important. It acts as a family anchor. If kids’ ages, work and acceptable dinner choices make this an impossibility, try to have another daily family ritual. Maybe a shared story before bedtime.
- TAKE ADVANTAGE OF TIME YOU HAVE TO SPEND TOGETHER. In the car and at the dinner table is when I get to have the best chats with my family.
- MAKE SURE YOU ARE HAVING FUN TOGETHER. So often the minutiae of day to day life takes over. There are days when the only conversations I have had with my six year old are heated ones. That makes me incredibly sad. We need to have daily, enjoyable conversations. I need to take time out and just play, be silly and have fun with him.
- CREATE FAMILY RITUALS AND TRADITIONS. The things that your kids will look back on in life with fond memories. Christmas Eve was always a huge deal in my house as a kid. I still remember the beautifully dressed table, the excitement of the presents and all the food. No doubt my sons will remember annual camping trips with friends, birthday dinners and a huge family Christmas.
What do you do to nourish your family culture?