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What does your family stand for?

Do you have an intentional family identity or culture…

Mrs. Sensei has this poster hanging on our wall at home:

In This House:



We are patient . . .

most of the time

We support each other


We make mistakes


We always forgive

We keep our promises


But above all

we love

I see this poster almost every day but yesterday it caused me to pause and think about the topic of families, raising children and identity.

We were blessed with two absolutely wonderful kids. Now young adults, I have to give much of the credit to Mrs. Sensei.

One of her secrets was imprinting in them, at an early age, a very strong and clear identity that was in synch with an intentional family culture. This may seem like a minor thing but it is huge.

A simple example was every single day from their first day of preschool Mrs. Sensei would say to our kids these two sayings: “I believe in you” and “Bring honor to the family”. She never missed a day for almost 17 years! How many times do you think their brains and hearts heard those words? They both went on to have amazing high school and college academic and athletic careers that we were just grateful to share with them.

One event really stuck out in my mind which really summed it all up. It happened while dropping off our youngest, Jake, at Kalamazoo College on “Move In” Day. After we got everything up to his dorm room and we were about to leave, Mrs. Sensei began to cry as her last baby bird was about to leave the nest. Trying to lighten up the moment I said “Are you crying because Jake is leaving or because you are stuck with me?” It did not work. But Jake, said something to his mother that I will remember for the rest of my life. Hugging her he said “Don’t worry Mom . . . I know you believe in me and . . . I will bring honor to the family!” You cannot imagine the feeling in my heart. We hugged and as we drove away we knew we had raised him well. He was going to be okay.

Here at the dojo we know both identity and culture are key factors of success in children. So what is identity? It is who you are. It is how you see yourself and the world around you. Your child needs to have a very strong and clear sense of “who they are”. We see too many kids with a weak sense of self or just confused. Now whether the weakening of the American Family or technology works against parents we can still make a difference.

But where does your child’s identity come from? It primarily comes from their “tribe” or the people the hang around with. The immediate family should be their first and primary source of identity. But, sometimes that is not the case. And it is not always the parent’s fault like with a split or blended family, or a child that is throw from one home to another. Other times it is the parents fault. Common ones are “well I will let them decide when they are older” or “I will let them find out what they like” or when a teen identifies more with their friends than their family. So step back and look – What identity has your child formed? Who are they? Is it strong? Is it what you want? Is it intentional?

A definition I like for culture is: Culture is just a “group habit”. It is identity but more a common shared identity of a group of people. So your family culture will naturally translate into you and your children’s identity. So step back and look – What is your family culture? What does it stand for? Is it strong? Is it what you want? Is it intentional?

If you have not guessed by now, at our dojo identity and culture is one of the most important things we do here to help you. It can be summed up by our twelve character traits. It is sewn into what it means to be a black belt – never give up and being your best all the time at everything you do. It is even in every word we say like “I Love Reading” and “Try My Best” every time we bow. We take every valuable second we can at the dojo to impart identity through a strong intentional culture.

You are and will always be your child’s first and primary teacher. We just hope we can be that second source for your family and that secondary “tribe” that is just supports the family culture you already have.

Thanks for letting us be a part of your family! Yours for rock solid (and strong) kids,


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