Culture is everything!
My favorite definition of culture is a “group habit”. My favorite sayings I love to use when talking about our culture is “This is just how we do it here!”
So, what is culture and why should it matter to you and your child?
We all develop cultures intentionally or unintentionally. We can develop good positive cultures but we can also develop equally bad or destructive cultures.
Almost every group or “tribe” of people you belong to has a culture. Some have stronger cultures than others but they all have a culture or “group habit”.
Groups have cultures. Examples are sports teams or groups like the girl scouts or a bowling team. You may belong to a social group like a Rotary Club, a euchre or quilting group, or just a long time close group of friends.
Companies and workplaces definitely have a culture. For example, are you familiar with the culture at Apple? Are their different cultures at Ford, GM and Chrysler?
Churches and religions can have some very strong cultures. Even neighborhoods can have a culture (neighbors that get along versus constantly feuding ones).
Countries have cultures. Almost every other country in this world is envious of us. They are envious because as Americans we have a culture which has as one of its highest priorities something most other countries do not have – Freedom and Opportunity.
Hopefully you have noticed, we have a strong clear culture here at this dojo. To us, culture is everything! We seek to be in line and support the culture, values and principles that seem to be universal amongst most parents today. Our goal is to form that strong “tribe” you and your child need whose primary objective is raising strong, successful and happy children. What parents appreciate about us is we say the very same things they are but their kids just seem to listen to us better! Your child needs other adult role models and “heroes” to get the message they need. Just another important repetition.
Let me finish this piece with maybe the two most important cultures to you and your child. The culture of their school and of your family. The culture of your family may well be the most important so let me touch on your school’s culture first.
Like I said before, a school will have a culture. It is just a matter of whether it is intentional and strong, or not. This culture may well be the second most important because from kindergarten on, your child may well spend the largest portion of their waking moments at school. A the Hartland School we are working closely with them with their “Eagles Take Flight Program” T develop and build a strong intentional culture and foundation for our students and staff. This is “just how we do is here at Hartland”! We always stand up for ourselves and others. We never back away from our fears. We always do a little bit more than anyone expects. No one out works us. We are Hartland!
Before I write about the most important culture you have I want to share what I sometimes find really good well-intended parents doing. They take the seemingly logical approach of raising “independent” children by placing a high priority on them discovering themselves and finding out who they are. They often will say - I want my child to find out what they “like.” Think of building a child as similar to building a skyscraper. With a strong deep foundation, you can build a tower that can reach to the sky. But with a weak shallow foundation, even if built with the best and strongest material from the first floor up, the weakest wind or earthquake will cause it to easily fall. Just remember, foundation building is hard, boring work. And rarely is hard work fun or something you will “like” especially at the beginning.
Your child will “discover themselves” much better and easier if you give them a strong solid foundation to launch their search. Children with strong values and principles have what all children need – certainty, belonging and unconditional love. Raise them strong and they will leave you strong. With this they will have the courage and strength to find themselves and reach their full potential, fully becoming everything they were meant to be. With a weak foundation, they will be easily swayed by things like their peers, what “everyone else is doing” and social media.
This brings us to the most important message of this email nicely. Your family culture is probably the most important and most powerful because you are the ones who build that initial “foundation” for your child. Why? Because you are by far the most significant influence on your child in the first five years of their lives.
So how strong is your family’s culture. Do you have certainty; a clear and consistent set of standards and expectations? What are your shared language, habits, values or principles? Is what you stand for clear and unwavering? If you asked anyone in your family to define some of your family’s culture or habits, could they answer quickly and easily?
If you answered no to any of these don’t feel bad. You are not alone.
But, I am not going to leave you without something you can do. Here as some suggestions:
First sit down in a quiet place with just yourself (and maybe your spouse). Take a pad of paper (or computer) and write down the current culture of your family. This may sound hard but just finish these sentences:
“In our family, a common habit we have is . . . “
“In our family, we value . . .” or “IN our family, _______is important to us.”
“In our family, we always . . .”
“This is just how we do it here in our house . . .”
“To each other, we are always . . .”
Next, rank or grade the items on your list as to ones you really like and ones you maybe do not care for.
Now, make a new list of cultures you already have that need to be stronger and maybe even more importantly, cultures you want to intentionally add or develop in your family.
Later you can have a “Family Culture” meeting. Here you can share your family’s culture with everyone and get their feedback. Let the children have input especially as they get older. Post a list of your family culture on the refrigerator or where everyone sees it every day.
Now the hard part, you have to live it! Repetition is the key. Use the language. I suggest you have a few sayings or triggers. For example, one might be “We may have disagreements and even arguments . . . but in our family we never go to sleep angry.”
So, build that family culture . . . because you will develop one whether you intend to or not!
Yours for stronger kids,