What is a “family culture” and how can we intentionally build one? I’ll answer those questions and more in this post!
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Have you ever thought about your family culture?
To be honest, I hadn’t really given it much thought until earlier this year. I hadn’t even heard the term before then. Once I did, however, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. It immediately became something I wanted to pursue.
I was familiar with “culture” as it pertains to people groups, of course. I even knew how it’s often used in the business world to describe the values, attitudes, and atmosphere of a company or organization.
But I had never thought about my family culture before.
What is “family culture” and how can we intentionally build one? I’ll answer those questions and more in this post.
What is a “family culture”?
If the term “family culture” is new to you, here is a basic definition:
Family culture is the unique combination of your family’s values, beliefs, habits, traditions, and choices. It is the atmosphere and environment of your home. It is your pursuits and passions. It is who you are as a family.
Whether or not you’ve ever defined or described it, your family has a culture. Every family does! And each one is completely unique, impacted by the specific blend of experiences, personalities, and God-given purposes.
We have a choice whether to actively shape the culture we want or be passively shaped by what grows in the void. As Craig Groeschel says, family culture is “what you intentionally create, or what you allow.” [My emphasis.]
In the absence of any kind of intentional cultivation, a family culture will arise on its own. However, those “accidental” cultures are rarely the kind we want. They’re usually chaotic, frazzled, and full of strife.
That’s why it’s important to build the family culture we want — so that we can have the one we want to characterize our home. The one that will support our family goals. And the one that will leave the kind of legacy we desire.
5 Ways to Build a Family Culture
Before we had kids, most of us dreamed of what we wanted our future family to look like. Practices we wanted to adopt from our own childhoods (and some we didn’t). Interests and passions we wanted to pursue. Legacies we wanted to pass down.
The thing is, the kinds of family culture we want rarely happen by accident. With careful thought, intentional planning, and focused effort, however, we can foster our desired family culture.
Here are a few ways to build the family culture we want:
1. Set a vision
Think about the kinds of attributes you want to characterize your family. Talk with your spouse and family members to determine your core values. As you do so, consider the following questions:
- What do you want your family to be “about”?
- What are your family’s priorities?
- What do you want to cultivate in your home and in each family member?
- What do you want the atmosphere of your home to be like?
Once you’ve set that initial vision, you can hold everything up to it. It will help you make decisions about all kinds of things, from which activities you’ll pursue to what parenting methods you’ll use to how to treat one another!
2. Communicate it to the whole family
Once you’ve defined a vision for the family culture you want, communicate it to the rest of your family so everyone knows the goal you’re working towards. Share your vision, let them know how you hope to achieve it, and ask for their help and cooperation. You may even find it helpful to write a family mission statement and post it somewhere visible in your home.
3. Pick out key verses
Next, choose several Scriptures that will support and encourage the culture you want. Post them around your home, memorize them as a family, and refer to them often.
I’ll share some of mine in the next section, but one that I use often with my kids is Ephesians 4:29 — “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
4. Establish routines, habits, and traditions
Now it’s time for the practical application step of building a family culture. Using our vision as our guide, we can establish family routines, habits, and traditions that support the family culture we want to build. When we are intentional with this step, we are much more likely to create the culture we want, rather than allow whatever kind springs up on its own.
To help you, I’ve included some resources that have been especially helpful to me at the end of this post.
5. Cultivate with discipleship & reinforce with repetition
Simply explaining our vision to our kids won’t be enough. We will need to teach them how to live it out. We will need to teach them how to speak to each other, how to treat each other, and how to make decisions based on the guiding principles of our family culture. We will also need to show them by our example!
This will not be a one-and-done process. We will all be learning together, so we will all make mistakes! It will be important, then, to reinforce our vision with lots of repetition, while also giving each other plenty of grace.
My Family Culture Vision (What I’m Trying to Build)
With all that in mind, here is a peek at the culture I’m trying to build in my own family. This is not a model for you to emulate (remember, every family is different!), but rather an example to get you thinking. And know that this is my ideal vision — i.e. we are not perfect at any of it! Most of these are still a work-in-progress; but they are the goals we are constantly working towards.
That being said, here are the pillars of the family culture I’m trying to build:
⭐ We put God FIRST and seek to honor Him in all we do.
First and foremost, we strive to seek, obey, and glorify God — both as individuals AND as a family. We do this by studying the Bible, following God’s will for our family, and praying over our purpose, as well as the other activities in our family discipleship plan.
Key verses: Deuteronomy 6:5-9, Matthew 6:33, Matthew 22:37
⭐ We love and support each other.
I want to build a culture of closeness in our family. I want to foster loving bonds. And I want us to be each other’s biggest supporters and loudest cheerleaders.
We are doing this by encouraging the kids to see each other as “built-in best friends,” protecting and making the most of our family time, building each other up with frequent discussions of our strengths, talking about what we love about each other, and cheering each other on in our pursuits and endeavors.
Related Post: 7 Ways to Build a Loving Family
⭐ We look for the good in each other (and others).
I want to build a culture of seeing ALL people as “image bearers” – i.e. fellow creatures made in the image of God. This starts in our home, by looking for the good in each other, extending grace and forgiveness, and treating each other with respect. But it also extends beyond our home to everyone we encounter.
Key verses: Genesis 1:26-27, Matthew 5:44, Matthew 22:39, John 13:34, 1 John 4:7-8
⭐ We treat others with kindness and respect.
I want our family culture to be one of kindness and respect. Again, that starts within our family, but also extends beyond it. We are building this culture by reminding our kids (and ourselves!) to use kind words, teaching them how to resolve conflicts without resorting to harsh words and put-downs, and training them to respect boundaries.
Key verses: 1 Corinthians 13:4, Ephesians 4:29 & 32, Colossians 3:12-13
⭐ Our home is a place of peace.
I want our home to be a haven — a “home base,” if you will. A place where we can rest from our work in the world and recharge for our next “mission.” Some of the things I’m doing to accomplish this are asking my kids to use a considerate volume inside the house, keeping the house reasonably tidy, and creating/maintaining household systems to keep from getting frazzled.
⭐ We have a deep love for books (and lifelong learning, in general).
Books have always been important to me, and I’m super passionate about the benefits of reading – both for kids and for adults. Therefore, a love for books (and lifelong learning, in general) is an important part of the family culture I’m building. Here are some of the ways I’m raising lifelong readers.
9 Practical Tips for Reading to Your Kids
Our Favorite Picture Books for Kids
Our Favorite Chapter Books for Read-Alouds
7 Ways to Encourage Your Kids’ Curiosity (And Why You’d Even Want To)
⭐ We strive to be a blessing to others.
Finally, I want our family to have a culture of readily blessing others. Of not hoarding our resources for our own use but rather being a conduit for God’s blessings to flow through us. We are currently doing this by providing meals, making cards, volunteering our time, and giving material resources to those who need them. One thing I would like to get better at is opening our home to others.
Key verses: Acts 20:35, Galatians 6:10, Philippians 2:4, 1 John 3:18
Biblical Family Culture Resources
Here are some excellent resources to learn more about building a Biblical family culture, specifically:
- “How to Create a Biblical Family Culture” | Phyliciamasonheimer.com
- The Lifegiving Home | Sally & Sarah Clarkson
- Habits of the Household | Justin Whitmel Earley
- Family Discipleship | Matt Chandler
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