Shared Values

Years ago, I worked for MBNA America, an extraordinary organization.  If you found yourself in an MBNA facility, you knew their values. You knew exactly what was important to MBNA's leaders.   

The overarching value—THINK OF YOURSELF AS A CUSTOMER—was displayed above every single doorway in every single building.

Painters adorned the walls with inspiring quotes that communicated MBNA's shared values to all employees. As a result, their leaders established a reputation for superior customer service, which led to one of the most successful credit card institutions and some of the happiest associates in the world.   

Your Family Values

A family is simply another type of organization. You likely adorn the refrigerator and walls of your home with family photographs, children's artwork, and lest we forget, the unending lists of TO-Dos, phone numbers, and appointments.

In a subtle way, these items represent the beliefs and values that you pass on to your children on a daily basis. 

Do these items, however, embody the values that you want your children to absorb?   Have you clearly defined the overarching story that you want your children to remember about your family?  Could you reduce the number of arguments and strife simply by clearly defining your expectations?   

The overarching value was displayed above
every single doorway in every single building.

5 Steps to Share Your Family's Overarching Values through Story    

The Franklin Covey website offers a Family Mission Statement Builder.  This tool provides a simple method to ask the right questions and to develop a cohesive statement.

As with any automation tool, however, "garbage in = garbage out". Steps 2-5 will help you and your family identify the values you choose to pass down through the generations.    

1.  Throughout the next month, intentionally tell your children stories from your childhood, adolescence, and early adult seasons.

Tell the stories about when you were wildly ecstatic, when you were deathly afraid, when you were challenged beyond what you thought you could accomplish.

Share stories about when you succeeded, when you failed, when you were hurt more than you thought you could ever handle, etc.  Describe how you felt in each circumstance.

2.  Think about what each experience taught you. Do you still agree with the value or belief passed to you? If not, what would you change?  Use a small journal or the notepad on your phone to jot down your value or belief.

3.  Answer the questions in the Franklin Covey Family Mission Builder tool.

It's not easy to design or to change
the course of your family's history.
You and your family must work at it daily.

4.  Post the "final" draft in prominent places within your home. This is your Mission Statement, your family's overarching story.   

5. Now, for the challenge… You need to live by your Mission Statement, your Family Values Statement. You need to bring your family's overarching story to life.

It's not easy to design or to change the course of your family's history. You and your family must work at it daily.

I challenge you to look back at the list of stories you told your children throughout the month.

You will see that the beliefs and values you learned as a child empowered you to become the adult you are today. 

What about you?

What does your family value? Do you communicate your values—your family's overarching story—daily? In writing? In speech? And in action?

If so, we'd love to hear some of your values. Leave us a comment below!

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This publication is based upon personal experience, research, and education. Although the author has made every reasonable attempt to achieve complete accuracy of the content in this article, the author and Sunday Dinner Stories assume no responsibility for errors, omissions, or inaccurate information. For privacy reasons, some names may have been changed or omitted. The content is not intended to replace common sense, legal, medical, or other professional advice; it is meant to encourage, inspire, educate, and inform the reader. That means you should consult with your attorney, doctors, and other professionals if you have any concern about implementing our advice. But we hope you'll consider us your memoir professionals and will consult us for all your storytelling needs!


© 2021 Michelle Beckman, Sunday Dinner Stories, All rights reserved internationally.
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8 thoughts on “5 Steps to Identify and Share Your Family Values”

  1. I’m so glad that you posted this.
    Growing up, there was no clear mission statement. In fact, nothing was clear. My mom is, and was as I was growing up, a free spirit. Which meant that there was lots of adventure in my life.
    However, to be able to have a mission statement for the two of us, I think would have given us just a bit of structure, helped us to be “rowing in the same direction” while still also having adventure and surprises.

    • Aww, Thanks, Wendy. Your comment means a lot to me! I think it’s also a bit of “the grass is always greener,” because as I read your post, I thought Wouldn’t it have been nice if I added a little “free spirit” and adventure into my kids’ childhoods. Thanks for giving us another perspective.

  2. This was quite interesting for me to read as I reflect on how I never shared stories because I held in all my emotions in fear that if I did share that I would be seen as weak. I wanted my son to see this ‘strong, independent’ woman.

    Now, I kind of wish I had these suggestions back then. What a wonderful idea to create a family mission statement!!

    • You ARE a strong, independent woman, and that’s exactly why you shouldn’t fear sharing your story. I believe that, sometimes, the stories we think of as weakness are usually stories of overcoming. Thanks for being authentic, Elda!

  3. I think we pass on our values in our family by what we do. We make it a point to pray together, read scriptures together, go to church together. We eat dinner together. But we haven’t gotten formal about outlining our values. This would be a great family activity. If everyone is involved, they will feel ownership of the family values.

    • Deb, Sounds like our families would get along well! Ultimately, I think we all pass on our values by what we do, but sometimes, we don’t intentionally think about what we’re passing on. I think that’s why I like the idea of a written value statement, vision, or mission. It gives all of us something to agree upon and remember on a daily basis. Thanks for commenting.

  4. This is really great advice. I love the emphasis on telling your children stories from your own childhood. There are rich lessons to be learned.

    We created a family vision, much like the mission statement, and it’s been awesome to watch as we all circle back to it when someone violates the core values. Love this!


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