When you hear the word “culture,” you may think of nations or societies. But every family has a culture, too. It’s worthwhile to spend some time reflecting on and defining the culture of your family. Here are some reasons why family culture matters.
4 Reasons Why Family Culture Is Important
- Creates a Meaningful Environment for Children
- Helps You Navigate Changes
- Fosters Positive Communications and Relationships
- Promotes Family Togetherness
The truth is that every family has a culture, although not every family actively defines it. All the ways that you engage with each other and interact with the world shape your family culture. Without question, all parents need to be mindful of family culture and take active roles in creating a positive culture for children.
What is Family Culture?
The first step in creating a family culture is understanding what the term means. In short, family culture is the unique combination of values, expectations, and experiences that describes a family and shapes the way its members interact with each other.
When should you start thinking about family culture? Ideally, you and your spouse will discuss your shared ideas early on in your marriage—or even before your wedding. Take some time to build a vision of how your family will be and how you’ll navigate different chapters of family life.
It’s best to set aside time to consider family culture when life is relatively simple. Don’t wait until you have a house full of young children and a packed schedule. By then, you’ll be engaged in the hard work of parenting and keeping up with each day’s events. If you have established your cultural values, you can use them to provide consistency and connection through life’s busy passages.
However, if you’re already in the throes of hectic family living, you can still consciously create a family culture. Set aside time for reflection and dialogue. Include children and teens in age-appropriate discussions. A family meeting or a weekend away can be all you need to start the culture-building process. Using the family culture assessment from Kinmundo is a great place to start your foundation of becoming an intentional parent.
4 Reasons Why Family Culture Is Important
Yes, creating a family value system and culture can take some work. And it can seem like an extra chore for parents. But the work can be worthwhile. A family culture can be a strong centering force for each child, tween, and teen as they grow. Your culture can provide a foundation that helps your children choose healthy relationships and embody good values.
1. Family Culture Creates a Meaningful Environment for Children
We all know that children learn from the world around them. When you consciously create a family culture, you have a strong influence over the knowledge they gain. Without strong family influences, children will pick up ideas from other sources, like media and peers. And those ideas may not always be positive.
A strong family culture helps children understand norms and behavior choices that matter to their family. They’ll know what their parents—first teachers—hold as most important. And they can carry that insight into adulthood and share it with future generations.
2. Family Culture Helps You Navigate Changes
You’ve probably heard that “change is the only constant” in life. That’s definitely true in family life.
Having a strong culture can help your family navigate through life’s changes—both positive and negative. With a solid sense of cultural values, you can make decisions about where to live, how and where to educate children, and more. Instead of agonizing over these types of decisions, you’ll have principles to guide you to the right outcomes.
When serious difficulties arise, your family culture can help you weather any storm. You can rely on your family’s cultural system as a source of comfort and wisdom during hard times.
3. Family Culture Fosters Positive Communications and Relationships
The strongest families have a sense of unity. With a clear family culture, every family member can understand how to best communicate and work together. Mothers can embody the qualities of a happily married woman, and fathers can show devotion to their wives and children. You can look to your cultural values for guidance on how to engage with others. You can use them to help resolve conflicts and extended family issues while soothing hard emotions.
Having a strong family value and belief system is essential to kids as they grow and gain independence. Instead of succumbing to outside pressures and negative attitudes, young people can rely on family principles to make wise choices. They can cultivate positive relationships with others who share their ideals and avoid temptations to fall into the “wrong crowd” just to seem cool or popular.
4. Culture Promotes Family Togetherness
A family group can be an oasis of comfort and belonging for everyone—adults and children alike. When your family has a strong culture, you can have a clear sense of what makes your family unique. You can know what values center you and define your interactions with others. And you can trust that you’ll always have a place where people understand and love you, no matter what.
A culture is more than just words and ideas, however. To promote your family culture, you need to choose activities and traditions that embody it. Daily bedtime rituals, weekly pizza nights, and annual outings are all opportunities to communicate your family’s cultural values. These activities help make families closer and create lasting memories as well.
What Makes Up a Strong Family Culture
A family culture includes all the overt and subtle ways that we engage with each other and the world. It includes our morals, core values, religious and spiritual traditions, belief systems, and actions. Your family culture guides the choices you make every day.
Since culture is an indistinct term, it can be hard to pinpoint elements of your own family culture. One way to think about family culture is to take an “outside-in” view of your family.
Think about how your family appears to people outside your family. Do you attend religious services regularly? If so, having a spiritual life is important—and this is a core element of your family culture. Do dad and mom share parenting responsibilities? This displays the value of partnership and communicates the qualities of a good father to kids.
Reflect on what others might say about your family—and what you would like them to say. Consider things like your perspectives on education and social issues, the limits you set for children, and the activities you pursue.
Does your family value qualities like achievement, kindness, friendliness, service, or organization? What else matters to your family? Since each family unit is unique, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to creating a family value system and culture.
How to Create a Strong Family Culture
Your family culture exists whether you actively shape it or not. Fortunately, there are many ways to create and communicate your unique family values and culture.
Write a Family Vision and Mission Statement
If you think about it, every human system has a culture. Many businesses are very conscious of defining and promoting an organizational culture. You can borrow some of their practices for use at home.
Most successful businesses have vision and mission statements. What’s the difference? A vision statement is aspirational, while a mission statement is more concrete.
For a family, a vision statement may say: “We aspire to be examples of love and kindness in our community and world.” A corresponding family mission statement may say: “We will practice our religion faithfully, volunteer in our community, help our neighbors, and speak kindly to one another.” Taken together, these two statements are guiding principles to shape family decision-making.
Create a Family Motto
Vision and mission statements can help crystallize your ideas about family culture. But you may need to create a simple phrase that everyone can remember. A family motto is a great solution. A motto is a short statement, similar to a corporate tagline. A family motto could be “Always be kind.”
Want to keep your family motto present in everyone’s minds? Consider a custom wall sign for your home. Or emblazon it on wallet-sized cards or bracelets that family members can carry or wear everywhere they go.
Define and Follow Family Traditions
Although value statements and mottos are helpful, your actions help convey family culture to children. You can create family traditions that reinforce your chosen culture. Simple things like having regular family dinners show the importance of communication and togetherness. Pursuing service ideas for families or donating to noble causes tells young people that your family cares for others.
There are dozens of ways to use everyday rituals or seasonal traditions to communicate family values and culture to your children. Choose a few traditions that resonate with your family and practice them consistently.
What’s Your Family Culture?
No two families are alike. And no two family cultures are alike, either.
Family structure plays a role in shaping family culture. After all, a traditional nuclear family with two adults and children has clear differences from other family types. Blended families, single-parent families, and foster and adoptive families all have different family dynamics. And kinship care situations, where extended family is actively engaged in raising children, can have distinct dynamics.
Along with family structure, your choices about values and activities influence your family culture. You can consciously choose activities to promote the culture you desire. Setting aside one evening a week at home for reflection and scripture reading is perfect for a family that cherishes religion and traditional family values. A family that values wellness may spend every Saturday morning hiking or engaging in a sporting activity, then shopping together for healthy food afterward.
There are countless ways to communicate your family culture. Creative families may enjoy baking, attending art exhibits, or singing together. Families that care about education might focus on reading together or visiting museums and libraries. Going to cultural events and community festivals may be important to families that value heritage and tradition.
There is no one right way to create a family culture. You and your loved ones should work together to build the culture that is right for your family.
Strong Cultures Make Strong Families
Whether you’re aware of it or not, your family has a distinct culture. That culture reveals itself in the choices you make, the activities you pursue, and how you engage with your family members and the world.
Not every family takes time to define and promote its culture. Those that do can enrich their lives and help children navigate towards a thriving future. For children, tweens, and teens, a culture provides a sense of meaning and promotes family togetherness. Adults can rely on cultural values to make crucial family decisions, even during life’s hardest passages. With a clear family culture, healthy communications and relationships can blossom, both inside and outside the family.
Ideally, adults should start building a shared vision of family culture in the earliest days of marriage. But families can define their culture at any time. Any time spent reflecting on your family’s cultural characteristics has value. Start with questions like, “What are family values that have meaning to us?” Such question will help shed light on the core principles underlying your family culture.
Often, families find it helpful to codify their culture with a vision and mission statement, or even a motto. It can be fun to brainstorm these short, memorable phrases together. Finding creative ways to display these important words in your home can help everyone learn them to heart.
Many other ways exist to bring your family culture to life. You can choose simple traditions to practice consistently or engage in events that reflect your values. Although clarifying your family culture takes a bit of work, you can find many ways to help your culture flourish.
Don’t ignore the importance of family culture. Doing so puts you at greater risk for having your family values displaced by the dominant culture of society and its accompanying values. Keep what you hold most dear.Take steady, small steps to strengthen your family culture. Your loved ones will thank you.