Episode 190: Creating Family Culture
Hello. Hello and welcome back to the Live Free Creative podcast. I am your host, Miranda Anderson. You’re listening to episode number 190, Creating an Intentional Family Culture. This episode is maybe going to feel a little bit like last week. Totally. So, if you listened in last week, you will still get value out of this episode. If you haven’t listened, that also was a good episode, you might want to go back.
I have been thinking about this for about a year, this idea of creating an intentional family culture, what that looks like, how we do it, and why does it matter? And today’s the day that I want to share some of the thoughts that I’ve had and the insights that I’ve found about this idea.
Segment: Life Lately
Before I dive into sharing what it looks like to create an intentional family culture and why that matters. I wanted to share a segment called life lately.
When you are listening to this, here in Virginia, in Richmond, we still have a couple of weeks of school left. So, while most of the country has opened its doors and run out into the summertime, sunlight, screaming for freedom and joy. We are still in the daily rhythm of getting up and going to school, which I will mention that I’m not sad about, especially because of, it feels kind of faraway now, the pandemic affecting our school lives. But we had a full 18 months when my kids did not have a regular school schedule. They were home being homeschooled. So, the decision that our district made to extend this year by a couple of weeks, and then actually start an early a week earlier than usual in the fall, this coming year feels okay to me.
I feel fine about it. The weather is so beautiful right now. Some of my favorite things that are in the works are, my summertime garden beds are built and installed. I used the pattern that I used last summer, I guess it was in 2020. I built and created a PDF download. If you’re interested in that raised garden bed pattern, it’s available through the link on my blog. I’ll link it in the show notes. So, I used the same pattern, and same design and built the same garden beds as before I love them. They’re so wonderful. And it’s so fun to have a garden again with my iron arches and cherry tomatoes and cucumbers. Hopefully, if all goes according to the garden God’s plan, they will fill up by mid-July. Usually, my cherry tomatoes and pickling cucumbers are touching at the top of the arch creating a full, beautiful green Archway.
Grown Up Summer Camp!!
I am making final plans for grown-up summer camp, which is coming up next month. Almost exactly a month from now. So, July 14th – 17th in new castle, Virginia, we will be gathering for three days of grown-up summer camp fun. The details for that are, of course, the tickets have been available for a long time. It’s almost full, registration is still filling up. And I then go on and work on all of the specific details. What exactly are we doing for the crafts? What are the supplies that we need? Transportation and finalizing the menu and all those good things. It’s so fun to work on that. I just love the details of putting together a thoughtful event. And I am already looking forward to meeting so many of you who are traveling from all over to come to join summer camps. So that’s going to be amazing.
It’s been a little while since my birthday, which was in February. So, March, April, May, June, four months. I am a third of the way through the year. And if you remember, I made four goals for my 40th year. I thought I’d give you a little update, but now that I’m saying this, I haven’t made as much progress as I would like.
So, one of my goals was to do four strict pull-ups by the time I turned 40 and I am happy to announce that I can now solidly do two. I would say it’s like two and a half on a good day. If I do a little thing, which in the CrossFit gym, we call that a jumping pull-up and it’s like, it is a thing. If I can get my third and fourth, but if I’m just hanging straight and then pull up once I can get my chin over the bar, one time I lower back down, I can pull up one more time and get my chin up over the bar and then I have to do either a little kick or a little jump to get up my third and fourth time. So, I am making progress on the pull-ups and feeling good about that. Hopefully, in eight more months, that progress will continue, and I will get to my four strict pull-ups.
4 Guitar Songs
I had a plan of learning four songs on the guitar. I will admit I’ve only pulled out the guitar a couple of times and just recently. The song that I’m starting with, that I want to learn is from the movie Encanto, and it’s in my opinion, the best song in the whole movie. It’s so sweet and sentimental about this young couple and you know, all of the strife that they go through and the tragedy, but then becoming, you know, turning from caterpillars into butterflies and flying and creating the life of their dreams. I love it. And am working on learning it. I think along with that this summer, I’ll also turn to one of my favorites. Well, maybe a couple. I have an Indigo Girls song that I used to know on the guitar. So, I feel like maybe it’s cheating, but if I learned that again, like relearn it then maybe that will be easier than trying to learn a whole new song. Cause I think I remember at least a little tiny bit of it and then I love the song, Blackbird. I feel like I have the music for that.
So, it’s all not great on the guitar front. I am reminded when I make a goal like this and I’m like, I want to, but then it’s so outside of like my regular thought process and activities of daily living pull it out and do it. I have to question like, do I really want to, because if I really want to do, I’d make more space for it. And it looks like what I really want to do is read sitting on the tree swing in the backyard. Cause that’s what I spend a lot of my free time doing now that it’s warm. So just a thought about the true desire sometimes shows itself in the way we spend our time. If we really, really want something. I think there is an element too, I know that I’m not very good at playing the guitar. I’ve taken lessons a few times. I know that it’s just going to take so much practice and it’s hard to not be good at something it’s hard to pull it out and to make mistake after mistake and feel a little bit lost. And that’s, that’s a real thing too.
4 Camping Trips
So just sort of the difficulty of being a beginner. I can see how it can prevent us from wanting to move forward in new areas of life because it’s not very fun to be a beginner. It’s much more fun to do things that we already know how to do, and that we’re good at. I’ll keep working on it. I’ll keep plugging. Bye now. I thought we would have completed our first of four camping weekends, but we switched up our plans.
And actually, I’m glad that I did because it rained all weekend. We had planned a camping trip on the James River in May, and then, we changed our plan because Milo decided he wanted to do something different for his birthday, but also it was really rainy that weekend. So I’m glad that we changed those plans and I need to get some more camping trips on the schedule.
As I’m planning our summer, I talked about last week planning our summer rhythm, and that’s one of my goals in the next couple of weeks before we’re officially out of school, we’re going to solidify and lock in some camping weekends so that we can look forward to those.
40 Volunteer Hours
And then I have emailed about a volunteer role that I’d like to participate in and I just haven’t started yet. So I have, I mean, it’s kind of funny reporting back and being like, oh, I haven’t done a whole lot in the four months, the first four months of my 40th year. I mean, I’ve done a lot, but not specifically on these goals. So I’m going to rededicate myself and I keep working on the, when and how they’re going to happen.
And I will report back later.
That my friends, is my update about life lately.
Intentional Family Culture
I want to start this episode by sharing a quote from Seth Godin. That is what immediately comes to mind. When I think about creating an intentional family culture, he says “People like us do things like this.” “People like us do things like this.” This quote sort of encompasses the way Seth Godin talks about creating a culture. And he’s usually talking about marketing. So how to identify your target audience and create a community where people can identify themselves. With you with your, with your brand, with your company, with your product. I like to think about this in terms of creating an intentional family culture. When you think about that phrase, people like us do things like this.
What types of things come to mind for those filling in those blanks? People like us, who are people like you? If you’re trying to identify your family, can you come up with a few core values, principles, characteristics, and identifiers that would thread through your family? People like us are what, an aggregate of attitudes and ideas and ideals and moral codes who are people like you. And then to take it a step further, what do people like you doing? People like you fish people like you hike people like you shop people like you play music, people like you, paint. Who are you? And what do you do? Those are the questions that I like to answer.
As I’m thinking about creating an intentional family, creating a culture is something that happens a lot in business. It’s something that happens a lot. Countries and cities and societies. And when you break it down to this intimate building block of the family, it becomes even more important there’s research that shows that one of the highest predictors of self-confidence in teenagers and adults is how much family identity they held as kids.
Our family stories and identity can create a sense of self-worth and value and can be empowering and identifying for us. Likewise. Without the formation of an intentional family culture with each new generation, we can inherit some of the family stories, traditions, and wounds that are no longer helpful and no longer serve us in our families.
This is where building and creating an intentional family culture for your own family becomes important. Insignificant. You take the time to identify what are the pieces that you have inherited that are powerful and enriching and lovely. And where are some of the traditions that you could passively pass along, but that you may not want?
And in addition to that, I think so many of us grow up loving pieces of the family we grew up in and also a pouring some of them saying, oh, I’m definitely not going to do that when I grow up. And I am definitely going to do that. When I grow up with my own family, when do we take the time as adults to identify those things and to create space for the yeses and to eliminate the nose? This is what I hope to shed some light on in this episode, helping you sort of walk through some of the questions that you may ask yourself, either by yourself, with your partner, or with your family as a whole, to start building an intentional family culture that you can all identify with and celebrate so that you know what people like you. And that that becomes a source of strength for you.
Our Family Culture
The idea for this episode first came up last year. When my family spent about a month in Utah, visiting our families, we have lived far away from the families of our youth for most of our adult lives. So Dave and I got married. We lived in Salt Lake for about a year and a half while I finished nursing school. And then we moved across the country to the east coast, and we have never lived back near family. So for the last 15 years, we have been striking it off on our own with our own kids and family.
And we feel like we have close connections and great relationships with our parents and with our siblings. We’re able to maintain those family ties, even from a distance part of that is making space to visit and spend time with family in an intentional way. And so last summer we spent a good chunk of time in Utah with our cousins and my siblings and our in-laws and had all of these fun family experiences.
One of the things that we did while we were there was going a lot of hikes and it was during one of these hikes, I shared something about it on Instagram. I mentioned on Instagram as I was sharing, that one of our favorite hikes in the Albion basin is to hike up to a lake called Cecret Lake. It’s spelled with a C kind of odd it’s this beautiful couple mile hike that goes up into the high, high, you know mountains and. You walk around this beautiful reservoir and then hike back down.
I mean, a fun hike that Dave and I had done when we were dating, it was fun to take our kids back and I shared about it on Instagram. And I mentioned. That it’s so fun to be creating a family culture of hiking. That is something that our kids know we do. We are a family who hikes and I had a few different questions about how did you do that? How did you create a family culture of hiking? How did you identify that that’s something you wanted to do and then follow through with it so that your kids can identify, this is something that we do?
“People like us do things like this.”
And I had to sit and think about it for a while. And then, I wound back my clock and remembered when my kids were young. When Plum was probably six months old and Eliot was two and a half and Milo was four and a half or five. We were living in Texas and we have this huge hundred-acre nature preserve behind our fence. So we have this big, giant yard and we’d walk through our back fence and walk about a block on a dirt path and then enter into this nature preserve. And it was a hundred acres. Untouched wilderness. And it had some hiking pathways in it.
It had some caves that were covered over with signage because there was like a blind, endangered cave beetle that was being preserved. I mean, it’s so interesting. And Dave and I realized that we wanted to teach our kids to hike. That up until that point, a lot of our lives had been him busy with school and me busy working and being pregnant or having a newborn or a toddler. And that now that Plum was old enough to easily put in a pack and the boys were toddling on their own that this was a good time to start a habit of hiking.
I will say we could have done it earlier. We could have taken some time away from school and work and packed the boys into packs and you don’t have to stop. I mean, there are natural pauses in the building of a family and the growing of a family, just because of the different ages of kids.
And also, I think it’s possible to create a family culture around whatever you want at any time. That’s just my caveat. This was the time that worked out well for us though, that I thought I can hold hands with the boys. They can tromp on through. We can get Plum up in a backpack and we can start hiking as a family. This was a very intentional decision, Dave and I sat down one day and decided we want to be a family that hikes.
Dave and I both liked hiking growing up. I spent a ton of time in the outdoors as a kid. It’s a huge part of my identity and my joy. And we wanted that for our own family. So while we had done a little bit of camping here and there. We hadn’t done as much hiking with our kids as we hoped to. And we realized that it wasn’t something that when they were 15, we were just going to be able to wake up and say, oh, let’s go hiking. We’re a hiking family. Now we wanted to establish this as something that we did from the time our kids were young, it was an intentional choice to become a hiking family.
Taking very small steps in the beginning. We didn’t know where else to go, except for this nature preserve behind her house. Austin, Texas. Isn’t known for its hiking. It is a beautiful country and there are some trails around. They’re not as accessible from where we lived in. The suburbs is it had been, you know, growing up in salt lake where you were always five minutes from a trail, we decided we were going to do Sunday hikes in the nature preserve.
Our kids did not immediately take to. It was hot. They got a little bit bored. And I recognized after our first about five or 10-minute walk in the preserve that we were going to need to have a little bit of motivation and a little bit of planning. If we wanted to teach our kids how to become hiking kids. So the next week I made a very simple scavenger hunt.
I think I drew a picture on paper of like a butterfly and a flower and a rock and a tree. I mean, it was that simple. And I gave each of the boys a marker and their scavenger hunt, and I said, let’s go. Until we find all the things in your picture. And I also packed snacks. I think I put a string cheese and a pack of fruit snacks in my bucket for each of the kids. And we went on our hike and I think that week we made it about 10 or 15 minutes.
Each week, we got a little bit longer. My scavenger hunts had to get a little more detailed instead of just finding a butterfly. You found a purple butterfly. Instead of just finding a tree, we found a particular type of tree with this shape of leaf. I was still just drawing it. We were packing snacks and I’m not kidding that we would do 20 minutes of preparation to go on a 15-minute walk and then turn around and come home. These were the seeds.
We were planting to form a family culture of hiking as time has gone on fast forward. Now, 10 years from that point, we. Our regular hiking family. It’s not unusual for us to spend a couple of afternoons a week of free time going down to the river and going on a hike, going out to Shanandoah, and going hiking during the summer.
That’s one of the big activities that we make plans for. We have a great new hiking guide of Richmond, Virginia that has about 30 hikes, and we’ve probably done a third of them. It is just a part of our culture. Now it’s something that I can say, let’s go on a hike, and my kids all, even if they’re not like, “yay, let’s all go hiking.”
They at least know to go put on their hiking shoes and grab a water bottle. And it’s part of what we do. It’s a really simple example, but the one that came to mind as I was asked the question, how did you become. Family of hikers. How did this become part of your family culture? It was with a really clear intention and then action to back up the intention.
What Is Your Family Culture?
I want to ask you some questions now for you to think about your own family. These are questions that you can ask as you’re brainstorming, what is your current, unintentional unspoken undecided family culture is. And then you can identify if there are pieces of it that you want to shift or change or add to. A lot of people inherit a culture from their faith tradition or their values tradition. And this is also a piece of our, of our family culture. It’s not just activities like outdoor activities or not. It also is people like us believe, things like this. So here are some questions for you to ponder as a family.
What do we believe? Why do we believe it? What matters most to us? How do we spend our resources of time and energy and money? What are our traditions? What do our traditions mean about us? What activities do we enjoy doing together? What activities do we enjoy doing apart? How do we feel about traveling and exploring? How do we take care of the environment? How do we take care of our home and yard? How do we think about education? How do we think about community and community involvement?
These are big questions and they may take a little bit of time to ponder and answer. I would recommend that you grab a journal and write down some of your thoughts about these things. Maybe invite your partner to do the same, and then compare it. And find the places that you’re aligned and some of the places that maybe you don’t feel the same about some of these things, and then make some choices or make space for there to be divergence in your identities and your family identity.
I want to ask some questions that are a little bit more simple.
Are you readers? Do you watch movies together? Do you have devotionals like family prayers and scripture study? What are your family meals and habits around mealtime? What do you like to do on the weekends? What are your family relationships look like and how do you nurture them or not? Do you have any family sayings, quotes, or inside jokes that your family and your children would relate to? Does your family like to play board games or other types of games? Are you sports people? Are you outdoors? Are you beach people? Are you mountain people? How do your kids have fun together? How do you respect each other’s individual choices and values?
I want to remind you, as you’re thinking through some of these things that one of the beauties of purposeful and intentional family culture is that it is unique to you. There isn’t a right or wrong way to answer any of these questions. It’s simply an identity that you can create and build based on what you desire or where you already find yourself.
You don’t have to build a family culture. That’s different than what you already are unless you recognize there are some disparities between what is happening now and what you would like to happen or how you would like your family to see itself. It can be helpful to think back on your own family and growing up. What did my family believe in, in value? Where do I different? Or where does my current family, my adult family, how do we differ in some of the values and priorities of the family that I grew up in and how do my actions exemplify those differences?
Do an inventory of answering some of these questions and recognize like Dave and I did way back when that we want to be a family who spends time in nature. And at that phase in our lives, we, we weren’t. So we made the intentional decision to become a family that spends time in nature, hiking. And it was little by little, a piece of action that we added to our weekly schedule to create this culture.
We wanted to purposefully build this identity for our family. I held it personally, and I think Dave held it personally, but we hadn’t yet integrated it into our family, into our kids so that as they grew up now, at this point, we are the type of people who go on. And, you know, people like us do things like this. That’s something that my kids can confidently identify with. It’s an environment in which they feel comfortable because it’s part of who we are and what we do because we decided to create that. What are your regular rituals and traditions? And do you love them?
You can go back and listen to an episode that I did about tradition. I think it’s during the first season of the podcast, I will link it in the show notes. It was around Christmas time and I gave a talk. A local event about tradition and how sometimes we follow through with the traditions that we have inherited, even though they’ve lost their meaning and we’re doing these things, but we don’t know why. And so it doesn’t build our identity because there’s no purpose behind it. Sometimes. It’s more powerful to abandon a tradition that doesn’t hold any meaning for you than to simply follow through with it. I like to ask, not only what are we doing, but why are we doing it? What are we learning from it? What, who are we honoring through this tradition and making those as meaningful as they can be to keep that identity strong and intact the tradition. It might be kind of fun as you’re working through this idea of creating a family culture to come up with a family motto, our family mission statement.
Creating your culture
There are tons of articles online about this. When Dave and I were very first married, he was working for the Franklin Covey corporation. One of the things that we did as a couple was go through the seven habits of highly effective marriage. And during that class, one of the activities we were invited to complete was to create a family mission statement.
I wish I had it still on hand that original one that we created this idea of just a family mission statement is an idea like outlining your family culture and writing it down. Deciding who you are. Our family reads books loves nature, speaks kind words, travels, and explores different parts of the world. Our family cares for our bodies and uses them for good. Our family loves music and movie nights and always stands up for each other.
I mean, that’s an example of a family mission statement or a family identity statement. As I was preparing for this episode. Dave and I, one of our family traditions is to have dinner together. And this is 99% of the evenings. We sit down around the table together and eat. And one of our traditions is to do a question either peaks of the week or what went well, we go around the table and I’ll answer a question, kind of connect. And Dave and I recognized that we wanted to sort of get a finger on the pulse of what our family feels is our family culture.
So we started asking our kids, what are some of the things that our family loves? What are things that we like doing together and some of these questions, what do we believe? How do we like to spend our time? What do we think matters? And we wrote down these answers. So that we could recognize where we are right now.
And over the next few weeks, we are going to come back to this idea with our family around the dinner table and shape and mold, this family culture, including our kids in the process, our kids are old enough to participate. We want them to participate. They’re a big part of the family.
So our family culture isn’t just from the top down. We also want it to include things that our kids love and how they want to participate. And when we outline this and then we’re going to write it and put it on the wall, our family blink, blink, blink, blink, blink. We can introduce these values.
We can remind ourselves of the things that we do, the things that matter to us, how we uphold and support each other, and how we explore and enjoy. Then the natural resources around us, how we spend our time, and what we believe are some of life’s most important identifying questions.
If we can create an environment in our homes where our children and ourselves learn to recognize and identify some of the answers to those questions and shape them with purpose, we’re giving ourselves such a gift. This empowerment, this identity, the self-confidence that comes with knowing that we’re a part of something greater than ourselves, knowing that we belong within this family and that, although we’re all unique individuals, there are some ways that we can come together in agreement and common purpose and in common activity and, and love of certain aspects of our lives to.
Identify and Build
Most families have some culture, even if they haven’t identified it. The trick is that sometimes your family culture can be growing and solidifying, and it’s not what you hope it to be. It’s an unintentional family culture of maybe strict boundaries or maybe anger. Yelling at each other, putting people down, not eating together, not having family activities that you enjoy or have identified together.
Maybe your family culture is one of wanting to get away and wanting to separate and wanting to spend less time together rather than more or not having that peace, not having a safe space at home, not having those open conversations.
I hope this episode gives you a jumping-off point to identify where you are currently in the formation or identification or not of your family culture and then gives you the confidence and the stepping stones and the questions.
Start building a family culture with intention. One that you’re proud of. One that you will look back on, fondly. Those traditions and rites and rituals and beliefs and activities that your kids will grow up with. Knowing that people like us do things like this.
Sometimes they’re silly things. Our family loves to turn up the music in the kitchen and have kitchen dance parties. And that’s something we’ve done for a year is just sort of automatic. It’s something that my kids will remember. We are a kitchen dance party family, and even my most reserved kiddos get a little loose and wild when the music comes up and mom and dad are doing their embarrassing, silly dances.
Everyone wants to get in on the action. We like dancing together. We like singing together. We like being silly together. That’s part of our family culture. As I’m wrapping up, I just want to. Give another big, broad idea. So you can kind of get your head around this. Your family culture is the traditions and habits and practices and values and beliefs that your family has.
Different Families Different Culture
It’s who you are as a fan. Whether you choose it with intention or not, your family culture identifies you as different from other families around you. And that can be a really positive thing. I know often with my kids when they’re telling me about why we should do things differently because one of their friends does things differently. I’m able to say it’s okay for different families to have different decisions and values and traditions. Our family does it. This. I love this quote from another far from home.com. The writer says your family culture when purposefully and continually nurtured becomes the protective fence around your family, where everyone feels safety and belonging.
As you answer the questions that I shared early in the episode. Begin to build for yourself, a family identity, a family culture, incorporating things that are automatic and that are already happening. And with intention, with purpose, choosing things that you want for your family identity and culture that may not already have a place, you can build this idea.
Of safety and protection and love and fun for yourself and your kids that you can say, people like us do things like this as you’re making decisions, heading into the future. Take a little time this week to write down, define answer the questions. Think about your family culture. You may want to share this episode with your partner.
You might want to bring out a list of questions or print out some questions to pass around and then gather them up as a family activity one night, maybe choose a couple of days that you could talk about together and make a poster of your family motto or your family mission statement or define who you are and what things you all love doing together.
Family culture. Isn’t meant to bind people in, in a way that they can’t identify as unique individuals. It’s not meant to homogenize the family. It’s meant to create some characteristic touchstones of identity within the group to help people feel like they belong and to help guide the choices that you make as you’re building memories together.
I would love to hear how this goes for you. Send me an firstname.lastname@example.org to share about your adventures in creating an intentional family culture or share a direct message to my Instagram at live free Miranda on Instagram. I’d love to hear about what type of family you are, and what are the things that you love? What traditions do you hold dear? And is there anything that you? Identify what you want as part of your family culture that you’re going to set out to create. Now that you have learned a little bit more about that process. I want to say thank you as always for being here for tuning in and giving me some of your time and attention each week.
One-on-One Coaching with Miranda
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Thanks again for being here. I hope you have a wonderful one and I will chat with you next week. Bye-bye.