In this article, we look at how we can adapt the good practices and mind-sets of the workplace to benefit our families. Here we explore the applicability of mission / vision statements.
Family Mission and Vision
It is common nowadays for well-run organisations to have mission and vision statements. In a progressive organisation, we expect to see the management develop a vision for the growth of the business, excite staff with the vision, and be able to translate that vision into actionable plans.
Have you ever asked yourself, what are parents for? What is your mission as a parent? Would you have done enough if you feed, clothe, and provide shelter and schooling for your children? Or does parenting come with further responsibilities?
James Stenson proposed some answers to these questions in his book Compass: A Handbook on Parent Leadership. He noted the problems affecting individuals and society at large, and saw that children really grow up not when they can take care of themselves, but when they can take care of others – and want to.
We parents thus need to be forward-looking. We need to look ahead to the adult lives of our children – their personal lives, their marriages, their careers – and consider if, when they are young, we are developing the right character strengths now, in order that they can protect themselves and their loved ones later in adulthood.
Stenson put forward a framework, first considered by the Greeks more than 2000 years ago, to help define character strengths. Character is an integration of those powers of mind, will and heart, as follows:
- Prudence is sound judgment and conscience
- Justice is a sense of responsibility and fair play
- Fortitude is courage and persistence
- Temperance is self-mastery, self-discipline and self-control.
- Heart is magnanimity, greatness of heart, a capacity for compassion, understanding and forgiveness
Stenson also suggested that these could be developed in our children through repeated practice.
Do you consciously work at developing these character strengths in your children? Does your spouse support you in this?
Discussing this helps a couple think about and concretise how they can achieve their mission, and how they want to bring their children up. Otherwise, each parent may work in an isolated manner to further his own individual goals or ideas, rather than mutually supporting each other. Even worse, the spouses may work at cross-purposes with each other, giving rise to conflict.
A wise person once said that love is not two people looking at each other all the time, but two people looking in the same direction – certainly a shared vision will help a couple to “pull in the same direction”.
By discussing and developing a family mission/vision, and perhaps even putting it in writing, parents would have a framework by which to evaluate their current state. This would also help them in their considerations on how they can become more the family they would like to be.
Concretely, it would provide them with criteria for making decisions on their family’s goals and activities, on the use of time and on how to allocate limited family finances.
So what is your mission / vision as a parent? Tell us about it by leaving us a comment.
By John Ooi.
John Ooi, a father of six, is a family life educator in Touching Lives Pte Ltd in Singapore.
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