Parenting is fraught with challenging decisions from the moment the telltale line on the stick turns pink! We parents ponder: natural childbirth or medically assisted; bottle-feed or breastfeed; attachment parenting or ‘let cry’ sleep training; time-ins or time outs; private school or public school; to vaccinate or not; and don’t even get me started on childcare. Needless to say, the list of gut-wrenching decisions goes on and on! Coming to terms with any one of these decisions as an individual mom or a dad is difficult enough. Sharing the decision-making process with a spouse may, at best, solidify a partnership and at worst, may seem downright impossible. To find oneself at a decision-making impasse with a spouse is a trying ordeal that challenges marriage partners to consider the merit of their partner’s perspective without compromising their own core beliefs and values. Not an easy task for any of us. Unfortunately, when the process goes astray, relationship quality may very well be threatened.
One solution I recommend is that couples collaborate to create a family vision statement. Organizations develop vision statements for the purpose of capturing their overarching goals and ideals in a concise and inspiring way. These statements offer clarity in terms of values and provide a framework for making strategic decisions. The explosion of technology advances has served to simplify many aspects of daily living. However, when it comes to decision-making, we now run the risk of finding ourselves overwhelmingly lost in the minutiae of options, information, and opinions every time we conduct a simple on-line search. Consequently, the process of making well-informed decisions has become remarkably complex. Thus, I propose that we take a page from the corporate world and incorporate family vision statements into our homes and relationships. Doing so begins with reflection and conversation about shared values, ideals, and dreams for your family’s future.
My husband and I recently crafted the following family vision statement: We are a family who believes that relationships matter most! We value spending time together and we endeavor to be the primary caregivers of our children. We hold each member of our family accountable for responsible behaviour. We support each other in our individual pursuits of personal and professional interests. We cheer each other on. We laugh whenever possible. We hold our marital relationship as a top priority because this relationship serves as the foundation of our family.
This vision statement has become an ideal for us to live up to. It also aids us in our problem solving efforts. For example, we often revisit the major financial decision, whether to buy a new vehicle or continue cramming into our old small sedan. After briefly fantasizing about all wheel drive and enough trunk space for a stroller and the groceries, we remind ourselves that space is luxury that our budget doesn’t allow for right now given our decision to sacrifice my regular, dependable, work scenario for a stay-at-home parent scenario. Decisions have become simpler, easier to make, and more comfortable to accept as they have been created in the context of our family vision that was crafted in the interest of our authentic family ideals.
As the new year has arrived, and many question the utility of New Year’s resolutions, I encourage families to consider developing a family vision statement. Doing so may serve to simplify problem solving, streamline decision-making, and establish connections through meaningful conversations about beliefs and values. Resolve to create a vision statement for your family and enrich the lives of your loved ones in year ahead.