What if you could shape the culture of your family? What if you could intentionally craft an environment that you love, that turns your house into a “home,” and that makes everyone feel safe and loved and celebrated?
An amazing family culture is something that ANY family can have…no matter your own upbringing or the age of your kids or whether you’re blended or a single parent or newly married. You just have to be intentional.
Discovering Family Culture
During the first year that my husband, Michael, and I were married, we lived in a small, ranch-style house fully decked with 60’s decor. I’m talking wall to wall pink tile in the bathroom AND kitchen, thick brown shag carpet in the living room, and plenty of pine. Everywhere. Needless to say, it needed some updating that we couldn’t afford at the time. BUT, at a recent trip to IKEA, we decided that we could at LEAST replace the horrendous glass dome chandelier in the dining room, since hosting people was so important to us and the dining room table is the center of family dinners.
So we picked out a super cute, trendy hanging lamp for $40 and loaded it in the car. When we got home, we were so excited to hang it, until we realized that neither of us had a clue how to replace a light, let alone a hanging chandelier.
My husband is a champ and took it upon himself to figure it out. And after a lot of research and YouTube videos, he did!! I was so RIDICULOUSLY proud of him for this amazing feat of amateur electrician work!
The day he installed it happened to be the same day we had invited both sets of our parents over for dinner. As the doorbell rang that evening, I had no idea I was about to get my first major lesson in family culture.
I opened the front door and there were my parents standing on the front step. I barely even let them in the door before I started gushing about Michael hanging our new dining room light fixture. I gestured wildly with excitement as I pointed to our new light and enthusiastically told them the whole story of how my white knight of a husband valiantly defeated the dragon of our 60’s chandelier with his bare hands.
Much to my delight, my parents responded with equal…or greater…excitement. My mom squealed and ran over to the light, carefully studying every imperfect detail with a giant grin on her face. My dad immediately started pouring out hefty accolades to my husband, saying what an incredible son-in-law he had and how proud he was, etc. I beamed with pride and nodded my agreement.
As I looked over at my husband, expecting him to be beaming as well, I was shocked to see his face turning red, his eyes widened, and the look of awkward embarrassment on his face. I would have said something, but the doorbell rang again and I rushed to answer it. I whipped open the door and warmly greeted Michael’s parents, quickly welcoming them inside.
In the same manner as before, I let loose my exuberant description of today’s events and the amazing feat Michael achieved, pointing proudly to the light. To my horror, my new in-laws remained stone-faced and said not. one. thing. In fact, my mother-in-law slowly walked over to the lamp and bluntly pointed out that it was hanging slightly crooked.
What? We’re DIFFERENT?
It was in this moment that I had an epiphany. The vast differences between Michael and me were not simply related to our personalities. Yes, that’s part of it. But a huge part of who we are and how we think and what we do is a direct relation to the culture of our family growing up.
We now look back at this day and laugh…all 6 of us. But it started me on a journey of discovering how powerful family culture really is to shape who we are. My family culture was one that placed a high value on open communication and verbal encouragement.
My husband’s family culture placed a high value on discretion and carefully choosing when and how to communicate. Encouragement in his family was demonstrated rather than verbalized. When we got married, we quickly discovered the discrepancy between our two cultures and have worked together over the years to define our own family’s values and style of communication.
Every Family Has a Unique Culture
Every nation has a unique culture…a collection of values, norms, language, expectations, special traditions and a shared history. Every family has one too! I’m sure you’ve met families who share a sarcastic bent, or a gift of generosity, or a love for nature, etc. These are all demonstrations of family culture. When a man and a woman come together in marriage and become one, they form a brand new family unit. This is one of the first and most important tasks of a newly married couple.
It can be easy to think that the culture of your family is set…a mere secondhand result of the combination of personalities and backgrounds represented in your home.
But the truth is that YOU have the power to shape your family culture!
You have the ability to choose what aspects of your family of origin (your own parents/siblings) you want to emulate in your new family and which ones to leave behind. When you and your spouse do this together as a team, you will strategically shape your new family culture.
How Do I Shape My Family Culture?
We spend so much time planning key events in our lives…the wedding, the dream vacation, the soccer tournament schedule, you know the drill. And yet in the midst of going from one event to the next, we forget to intentionally plan the culture of our family…the culture that shapes every single person in our household and sets them up for life.
- What marks your family?
- What is the overall “feel” or “tone” of your home?
- What do you feel when you walk in the house?
- Do the members of your family feel comfortable sharing their thoughts, feelings, hopes and fears with each other?
- What are the values you want your kids to grow up with?
- What traditions or routines make up the norms of your home?
These are the kinds of questions that will help you get started on the journey of creating a family culture that you not only love, but that intentionally influences each member of your family so they can walk in the fullness of love, life, and peace.
There is so much more to the concept of shaping your family culture! We will be unpacking more of the details and providing practical strategies in future posts. Be sure to sign up to Become an Insider below to be added to our newsletter so you’ll get the first notification of new posts & resources! Join me on this journey of creating a family culture you LOVE!
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