When a new educational institution is formed, those in charge make certain decisions about its identity. Things like a name, the mascot, colors, and song are common things the school will be known for. As principal it is also within their power to set standards, mission statements, determine the type of classes offered, etc. All of these things will contribute to the identity and makeup of this group. When my husband and I decided to homeschool our kids, we were given a reminder that as the leaders of our family, we can determine many facets of our family’s identity.
A family identity can be created through simple choices that you reinforce in your family life. One of the choices we have made for our family is how we are entertained. We appreciate the outdoors so we garden, hike on vacations, ride bikes, going fishing, walk to the pond regularly, etc. We prefer books, family engagement and games over excessive screen time. Even though as kids the movie theater was the ultimate entertainment, our date nights are taking a turn toward uncommon dinner spots and live entertainment like plays and festivals. The point is that hopefully our choices are consistent with our previously decided values.
How we treat others is an area that we are working on in our family. It can be difficult to raise respectful and loving little people when you struggle with that in your own relationships. Still, it is a way that your family can band together to fulfill the gospel and rise above the common stumbling blocks of our hearts and tongues. Some of the things we’re working on are how we speak (yes ma’am, no sir), how we react (meltdown vs asking for help), how we accept responsibility (blaming others for problems vs acknowledging our role), and how we respond when others aren’t acting right. Again, the goal here is to fulfill our values of the gospel through individual standards we set in daily life.
Another way family identity is created is through the skills we value. Skills aren’t just things you’re born with or are naturally good at, but abilities you gain through exposure and training. A fisherman’s son will know much about fishing whether they are gifted themselves. All families have this, though often they are unspoken and perhaps not premeditated as they ought to be. By engaging and demonstrating them in our lives, we are choosing to value skills like appreciating nature, being wise with money, reading and playing music, singing/song leading, and commitment to local worship services. Whether my child may become a mathematician, a back-hoe operator or a news anchor, these are skills we see worthy to support a fruitful life.
The physical identity that we carry – our name, distinguishing facial features, or a resonant voice, etc. – can help others pick you out of a crowd, but the character or our lives is where we choose to walk in the light. When our goal is to see our children walking in the light, we must build that light into our family identity