Several years ago, my husband and I decided to create a family motto. We wanted our motto to be meaningful to our children, so we held a family meeting and asked our children for input. The motto did not come together all at once, but the process was fun and creating the motto as a family gave everyone the chance to feel a part. Here’s what we did.
Prep the Kids
We told our kids ahead of time that we wanted to create a family motto. We asked them to start thinking about what our motto should be and to write down their ideas. We also set a date for a family meeting to discuss everyone’s ideas.
We usually reserve Monday nights as a family night so we picked an upcoming Monday to have our family motto powwow. We got out a big white board and I wrote down the ideas as everyone shared what they thought the motto should be.
I wish I had taken a picture of that white board. We had about 25 different ideas. Some of the ideas were really creative and some were just down right hilarious. With that said, here are some of the family motto contenders that did not make the cut:
- Buck up and be a man
- Nothing good happens after midnight
- Don’t do drugs
As you can see, we don’t take ourselves too seriously, and we can be a little irreverent sometimes. The process was really fun for us. The beauty of creating a family motto is that there is no right or wrong way, just do what feels right for your family.
Narrow Down the Ideas
After everyone had a chance to share their ideas, we picked five or six that were our favorites. We circled the favorites on the whiteboard, and then we discussed each motto and why each one would or would not work.
Pick One Motto
Although I don’t remember all of the mottos we came up with, I do remember that when we discussed this one, “Be Nice and Don’t Do Dumb Things” everything just clicked and we came to an agreement quickly. This motto fits our family perfectly.
Display Your Motto
The final step for us was to find a way to display our motto so everyone could see and be reminded of it on a daily basis. I thought about this step for several months and finally came up with the idea to make a chalkboard print.
I made the print in Photoshop and then uploaded it to Staples and printed it as an engineering print. The size is 24×36 and it cost less than $4 to print. I went to Lowe’s and had them cut the wood for me. I stained the wood and then had Tim put the frame together using his Kreg Jig, which he so kindly bought with his birthday money so I could have a nice frame. (He’s a nice husband!)
In our former home we had the motto hanging over the stairs where everyone could see it. After we moved, we plopped it up on the mantle. I really want to hang it on the wall, but Tim likes it standing up, probably because he doesn’t want to get the ladder out. Either way, I like that it is in a place where we see the motto every day.
Use Your Motto
Having a family motto won’t mean anything unless you use it as part of your family’s culture. Creating our family motto was a fun and bonding experience, but as we have actually used the motto over the past few years, I can see that the family motto also communicates to our children what our family’s values are. We frequently refer to our family motto when we are teaching and disciplining our kids. Sometimes all I have to say is “Be Nice” and they finish the rest for me, “and Don’t Do Dumb Things.”
If have a family motto, I would love to hear about it. Share in the comments.
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