What’s your family’s story? Ours is all about The Spare Room and how we’ve come together to welcome vulnerable babies and young people into our home. Every family has a story – if you don’t, you simply haven’t written it, yet! Perhaps this is a good opportunity to sit down and talk about what you want to stand for as a family… after all, it’s family stories month!
First, who are you as a family unit?
What are you known for? What do you do best? And why is this important?
Because: We are who we say we are… and if we’re not sure about that yet, We become who we say we want to be.
As someone who’s worked in the world of branding for a couple of decades, I see a strong corollary here. You see, branding requires us to define a positioning. Then, we build our intention and actions around that positioning. Whether it’s a product, person, or family, we have the opportunity to define who we want to be and work towards that goal.
So you, yes you, can define and then reinforce who you are verbally or visually. I have a friend who always reminds his kids, “The Tome family hustles!” Brian has made this true by declaring it, and regularly reminding his kids. It gives them a tangible, shared characteristic as a family unit. Another friend hangs signs in her home as visual reminders of who they are as a family.
Second, what do you stand for as a family?
If you’ve been following me, you’ll know I write about #sociallegacy quite a bit. “Legacy” representing who or what we seek to leave better than we found it. And “Social” defining the space in which we seek to make that impact. This is a powerful individual exercise, and one that can also help define a family story. What is the hill we’ll die on as a family? What do we care deeply about and what is the unique collection of experiences, characteristics and resources we have to offer?
Third, how do you operate as a family?
I don’t mean to make your family sound like a factory 😝… but there is a rhythm to how any people group does life. Do you share a “familect” or family dialect? It’s that special language you share, which grows from your unique shared experience. Perhaps they’re baby words that have remained in the family’s vocabulary, or the remnant of a hilarious inside joke. If you haven’t thought about this, I suggest it as a #tabletopic for dinner tonight. It’ll bring up wonderful memories and likely end in rapturous giggles!
Rituals are another important element of how your family operates. We maintain daily, weekly, and annual family traditions. While while individually, they are valuable practices, they also create an extra sense of “familyness” – something only the Chang family does together. For instance, every evening, our family does our HPGs – we each share our High, Proud and Gratitude. This is a wonderful way to hear about each other’s days and stay connected. Also, it enables a daily habit of gratitude. Over time, habits become behavior and our behavior defines our character. Developing personal characters grounded in optimism, self-reflection and gratitude is important for the Chang family.
On a weekly basis, we have Pizza/Movie Night. See, rituals don’t have to be super unique! They just have to be something we all enjoy, consistently maintained over time. We each know that this is family time, and build other plans around it. And maintaining this ritual is a way of telling each other, “I value you and our time together is precious to me.”
Last, I’ve blogged about our annual ritual before. We each paint a vision for the year ahead, spending the day painting over last year’s goals with renewed ideas. Not to erase the past, but to build upon it. Actually, these canvases are getting awfully heavy with over a decade’s worth of paint on them! But we’ll continue to paint and hang them on the walls. This tradition serves two purposes: 1) We sit down and talk about what we’d like to actualize in the coming year, 2) We review the previous year together, looking back as individuals and as a family.
What is your family’s story? I’d love to hear about it! And I hope this post inspires some meaningful family discussions this Family Stories Month!
One way our family shares thoughts about our spare room is through what I’ve called our #taxichats, quick videos of us chatting in the car. You can find them in the blog section of this site. For a few of our favorites, check out Taxi Chat #1 our funniest spare room memory, Taxi Chat #6 which kid impacted us the most, Taxi Chat #9 how Laini dealt with people’s reactions to Teo.
For a related article, check out The Shape of Family.