A fun way to teach your family is through a family motto. Everybody talks about having a family mission statement and they're very good. However, I like mottos even better. Let me explain why.
We have several family mottos.
"Boyacks don't bail."
"Boyacks are early."
"Boyacks keep the Scout Law."
"Boyacks decorate like nuts for holidays - especially Christmas!"
The development of these mottos has taken years of being a family.
We began with "Boyacks are early." This was because "Brownes are late." Growing up, my family was ALWAYS late. We always came in after church had started and had to squeeze in the back. We were always in a rush to get places because we had waited until the last minute to get ready. I hated it.
When I got married, I decided that my family was going to be early. It is just as easy to be 10 minutes early as it is to be 10 minutes late. It is just a matter of making the decision. So, "Boyacks are early" was created. And, we are. People know we'll be there sitting in place 10 minutes early. As a result, the whole family is programmed to accomplish that and several principles have been taught of preparedness, courtesy, and commitment.
"Boyacks don't bail" came from having very involved parents. My hubby and I are quite involved in many commitments to work, community, and church. One of the things that absolutely drove us crazy was people who said they would do something, then bail out and not do it. Hence, as we were teaching these principles of dependability and reliability to our children, we coined the motto, "Boyacks don't bail." When our kids wanted to bomb out on something, we merely had to say this family motto. They would feel compelled to finish because THAT'S WHO WE ARE.
The Scout Law motto came after the four sons. What a great way to sum up that we choose to live as people of integrity. If a son acts grumpy and we say, "Boyacks live the Scout Law." Bingo. Understanding is instantaneous. No big ol' hairy lecture is needed. In our home, the Scout Law has been modified to be, "A BOYACK is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent." Whew! That covers a ton! Rather than going into a harangue on the importance of a cheerful attitude, we encapsulate - "Boyacks live the Scout Law." Done.
"Boyacks decorate like nuts" is kind of a funny one. This goes back to a family identity established by my mother. She loved to decorate. The holidays provided a wonderful opportunity to do something new with the house. All of her children have carried on this tradition. Now it's passing down to our nieces, nephews and the next generation. Really, this family motto was "Brownes (my family) decorate like nuts," but we've adopted it as our own with our children.
The key to a successful motto is to make it fun and make it catchy. We could have said, "Boyacks are very reliable people." Snore ... "Boyacks don't bail" is much snappier. Make them easy to remember. Repeat them often at first and try to use them in fun settings to establish them as a fun family motto.
Now, when you catch a child doing well, you reinforce with, "Aha! Hendersons are happy campers! I love it when you are cheerful!" What a great reinforcement. That way it doesn't become a stick with which to beat them over the head. "Haven't we told you again and again? The early Byrds get the worm! Why are you late again?" You do not want the child to build resentment toward the motto, or it will be worse than worthless.
Kids are tremendously creative. This can make for a really fun family evening. It's even fun to get the extended family involved. These are great opportunities for creating more "hooks" for teaching principles and independence.
Family mottos can be used to build family unity, to have fun, and most importantly to teach principles and values that are important to the family in a funny, memorable way. So, go ahead. Try some for YOUR family.