What is Your Family’s Culture?

Our home lives aren’t random. Consciously or not, we create environments that express what is important to us. Sometimes just a step inside the front door tells us about a family’s formality, or faith, or preference for structure and organization vs ad hoc and happy chaos.

But our private cultures go well beyond design and furnishings. Every culture develops routines to keep important beliefs and preferences front-and-center. Classical music cultures have systems for finding and keeping talent, purchasing and distributing sheet music, storage and set-ups for performances, communication and promotion vehicles, scheduling and ticketing events – all to maintain the quality and vitality of their performances. Sports culture – same story – lots of interdependent processes. Religions – genders – all groups – invest in expressing their unique attributes and ensuring the next generation gets an early start.

So what are your routines? What activities always take priority? Dinner together? Reading? Going to church together? Having friends and family to dinner? Are projects encouraged even if you lose the use of the dining room table for a while? Are hugs routine? Music? Do you follow strict etiquette or allow feet on the table?

We often get caught up in the busy-ness of our lives and find ourselves in response mode. But, if we all take a few minutes and ask ourselves about the big lessons we want our kids to experience, it can be easy to keep those ideas reenforced.

Want to focus on compassion and empathy? Routinely ask, “Is there anything we can do to help?” Make it a priority. Want to be more frugal? Always engage in “what else could we do with that money?” Want your kids to feel worthy? Establish dinner routines where each person’s ideas are explored and respected.

Rituals – the morning hugs, the greetings and good-byes, visits to relatives, holiday celebrations – the things you do together – bring your values right into your living rooms and kitchens.

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