I've noticed a lot of hype lately around the idea of having a "Family Mission Statement." At first I chalked it up to an unnecessary trend among millennial parents, but as I listened to a podcast this morning (Parenting Great Kids by Dr. Meg Meeker), I suddenly realized that this "Family Mission Statement" idea may be of tremendous value for TCKs. The family mission statement is a short description of the purpose of your family. For example, "The mission of our family is to love each other and to love and serve those in the community around us."
Dr. Meg Meeker, a pediatrician and parenting expert says that having a mission for your family to get behind gives children a sense of purpose within the family. It shows them that they belong and are a part of the team.
Purpose and belonging are trigger-words for many TCKs.
When families move overseas, all too often the children feel like they are being pulled along to a life abroad so that their parents can do work or ministry. They are simply extra baggage, or worse, are an inconvenience. This translates to a lack of purpose - a feeling that "I am not needed."
Many TCKs also express a felt lack of belonging. After living overseas, they realize that they don't completely fit into their passport country anymore, but they are also still foreigners in their host country. The question, "Where do I belong?" resounds. Feeling a sense of belonging in the family is a critical component to a child's developmental process.
"Belonging lays the foundation for a strong and resilient sense of self – a self which can be sustained through transitions into the wider world and through subsequent experiences that may be less affirming and inclusive" (Woodhead and Brooker, 2008).
This "strong and resilient sense of self" is a key component of a healthy Adult TCK. By being intentional about giving your TCKs a sense of purpose and belonging within the family unit, you are helping to lay that foundation. Creating a family mission statement is a great, simple way to begin that process.
Creating a Family Mission Statement
1. Hold a family meeting and explain what you are trying to accomplish.
Example: "We want our family to live overseas as a team and for us to have a united purpose that we can all work on together."
2. Brainstorm your family values. Simply start listing them and write them down.
Example: Respecting each other, loving our neighbors, being responsible, being kind, etc.
3. Work together to turn it into a one or two sentence statement.
Example: "The mission of our family is to love and respect one another and our neighbors, to practice responsibility, and to be kind to everyone around us."
4. Put it on the wall
Write your mission statement and put it in a frame, on a bulletin board, on the bathroom mirror - somewhere where you all can see it.
5. Implement it!
The mission statement is pointless if you don't put it into practice. Remind each other of it as you go throughout your days.
Family Mission Statements can be a great tool for any family, but they are particularly valuable for families living overseas. TCKs need to know that they have purpose and that they belong and inside the family unit is a great place for that to be instilled in them.
For more information on family mission statements visit:
Woodhead, M. & L. Brooker. (2008). A sense of belonging. Early Childhood Matters. Bernard van Leer Foundation: Netherlands. - See more at: https://www.familiesforlife.sg/discover-an-article/Pages/The-Importance-of-Family-Acceptance.aspx#sthash.3v5u9ysd.dpuf