Wouldn't it be great to display your family's mission, core values, and beliefs for all family members to see?
Create a family manifesto!
A family manifesto, similar to family rituals, communicates, “This is who we are as a family,” providing an expression of unity and showing children that they are part of something meaningful.
It’s vital for children to have a sense of belonging and connection. Connection fosters optimal brain development, self-esteem, impulse control, and more. When children feel safe, loved, and accepted, they can develop the confidence and skills they’ll need to face unfamiliar situations, solve problems, and persist in the face of challenges.
So go ahead and create a powerful family manifesto for your family! Even better, engage your kids to make it a fun bonding activity for the whole family.
Which Type of Manifesto is Right for You?
Be creative when making your family manifesto! After all, it should reflect the uniqueness of your family.
If you aren’t sure where to begin, use one of these types of manifestos as a starting point.
“In our house, we…”
Many family manifestos start with the phrase, “In our house we…” and list a variety of activities that are valued in the household.
Some of the activities may be fun (e.g., play with LEGOS, cheer for Michigan), while others are more meaningful (e.g., love unconditionally).
The activities you choose can be concrete (e.g., eat home-cooked meals together, laugh a lot) or more abstract (e.g., dream big).
You can create a similar manifesto beginning with the phrase, “We are a family that…”
If you would rather focus on your family’s beliefs, you might want to start your manifesto with, “We believe…”
As with the activities, your beliefs may be more playful (e.g., Disney movies are the best movies) and/or meaningful (e.g., in taking chances, in the power of kindness).
Another idea is to define your family’s core values. At the top of your manifesto, you may print your family’s name and the words “Core Values.”
Core values might include phrases like, “Stand for the truth,” and, “Love one another.” You could also list words such as, “Integrity,” “Learning,” “Courage,” and so on. Consider incorporating growth mindset values like dedication, hard work, resilience, and love of learning as well.
Some family manifestos list words, then briefly define what these values mean to the family. For instance, “empathy” might be defined as respecting one another’s views and listening without judgment.
Other family manifestos are guidelines for day-to-day life. Generally, these manifestos are more like a word collage, listing a variety of mantras for the family to live by (like this manifesto by Alpha Mom’s Isabel Kallman).
Guidelines may include, “Work hard,” “Do what you love,” “Be creative,” “Make Lots of Mistakes,” etc.
You can also create an acrostic using your family’s name. Each letter in your family’s name could stand for a different activity, belief, guideline, or core value.
Still, other family manifestos are more freeform—essentially collages of words and phrases representing values, inside jokes, key beliefs, important family activities, and anything else that is meaningful to the family.
Ultimately, the format and wording of your manifesto aren’t what matters: it’s all about capturing the essence of your family and what matters to you as a unit.
5 Simple Steps to Make a Meaningful Family Manifesto
If you’re ready to start the manifesto-making process, follow the simple steps below.
Step One: Brainstorm Together
The manifesto will be more meaningful if you can get your whole family involved in the process of creating it.
Hold a family meeting and come up with a list of questions you can brainstorm. These questions might include:
- What is important to our family?
- What does our family believe in?
- What are some of our favorite family activities?
- How do we want to treat each other and others?
- How do we celebrate in our family?
Explain that you’re looking for a mix of serious and funny answers (or whatever your preference may be). You may also want to show your family members examples of other family manifestos that you like.
Then give each member of your family some paper, pens, markers, etc. and let them brainstorm.
If your children are too young for this activity, you may wish to brainstorm with your spouse and come up with a list. Then you can read it to your kids and have them vote on what they like best.
If your kids are even younger (and not able to vote), you and your spouse can create a family manifesto together. When your children are older, they may want to weigh in as well.
Step Two: Discuss
After everyone has come up with their own ideas, you’ll want to narrow them down to your favorite 10-20 as a family.
You can do this in several ways
- Have each family member read their ideas and discuss which ones you like/dislike.
- Post each family member’s ideas, then have everyone put a tally mark next to their favorites.
Make sure the manifesto includes at least a couple of ideas from each member of your family (so everyone can contribute and feel that their ideas are valued).
If there’s disagreement over a specific idea or belief, use this as an opportunity to have a respectful family discussion.
Ultimately, you should come up with a manifesto that everyone is reasonably happy with. Since the manifesto is something you created together, it will hold much more meaning, and you’ll have more buy-in from your family.
Step Three: Bring It to Life!
If your family is creative and artsy, you can design your own poster.
Alternatively, you can
- print it from a computer
- hire a local designer
- use Fiverr or Etsy
- commission someone you know to bring your manifesto to life
If family members want their own manifesto to display in their bedrooms, each individual can use the same words with their own unique approach. Some family members might want to create a hand-lettered poster, while others would prefer to use the computer.
Step Four: Display Your Manifesto
Once your manifesto is complete, place it somewhere prominent. Each member of the family should see it on a daily basis. The manifesto serves as a reminder of your unity, uniqueness, shared values, beliefs, and/or traditions.
For instance, the manifesto might hang near your front door, in the family room, or in the dining room where you eat your meals each evening. You can also put it up in your kids’ growth mindset corner.
Surround the manifesto with pictures of your family—even better if the pictures represent the values or activities mentioned in the manifesto!
Step Five: Revisit and Revise
Over the years, especially if you create the manifesto when your children are young, your manifesto may need some updating.
Occasionally revisit and revise the manifesto with input from your family. You might make this an annual tradition, or you can simply revise as needed.
Even if you never make any changes to your manifesto, it’s a great idea to revisit it or read it together on occasion. After all, it should be a source of identity, inspiration, and guidance for your family!