New Year’s Goal: Create a Family Motto

family motto

I’m not really one for New Year’s resolutions. But a while back, I read an article on a family who had created its own family motto and the idea really struck a chord with me.

So, what better time than the new year to create ours?

A family motto needs to be a phrase, or a few sentences, that speaks to each person in the family.

It should be inspiring. And simple.

Looking Back

Growing up, my parents definitely had their favorite phrases that probably would have been on the short list if we’d had a family motto.

“Do your best. And chill out,” was one of their favorites, which I find myself saying quite often to our first-born.

“It’s not over ‘til the fat lady sings.” This usually revolved around sports and induced lots of eye rolling from my brother and me.

But the phrase that we heard the most and that I find myself saying to my kids now is “Life’s not fair.”

I’m thinking if we’d had a motto growing up, that was it. And it’s amazing how it has stuck with me (though it probably doesn’t qualify as inspiring.)

Be You

Being a family of Chicago Bears fans, one motto that speaks to our whole family is one that new Bears Coach Matt Nagy adopted this football season: “Be You.”

He has a mantra of empowering individual team members to be themselves.

Rumor has it that it was his son’s advice to him when he was interviewing for the Bears head coaching job. His son told him, “Dad, just be you.”

Now, “Be You” is on his playsheet at games and there’s a sign in the locker room. The players looked like they were having fun and the whole energy around the team seemed like it shifted positively.

So, why can’t a family motto do the same?

Family Motto Guidelines

Here are some other considerations for a family motto:

-It should help focus on what’s important

-It can be a guide in making tough decisions

-It provides a sense of team in the family

Family Values

With these criteria in mind, we decided on a family time to brainstorm ideas.

Our talking time usually revolves around dinner, so we found that to be the perfect time to get the kids involved in the process.

We explained the idea at dinner and asked them to come back with ideas a couple days later.

But first we came up with a list of family values to work from:




-doing your best

-looking out for each other

Brainstorm Session

Here are some of the ideas that came out of our first brainstorming session for a family motto:

“Be You.”–Chicago Bears

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.”—Dr. Seuss

“Deal with it.”

“It’s better to be kind than to be right.”

“Stay positive, stay cool.”

“I’ve got your back.”

“Love, laughter, life”

“You can stand by me.”

“Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” ― from Harry Potter

“It doesn’t do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.”-from Harry Potter

“We can do it!”

“Be kind. Do your best. Have fun.”

“Fight for love. Laugh at jokes. Forget your mistakes.”

“Don’t stress. Don’t wait. Live unconditionally.”

“I’m not happy to be here. I’m just happy to be.” –Jim Valvano, basketball coach

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong-doing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” –1 Corinthians 13:4-7

“I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go.” –Genesis 28:35”

“Doesn’t our family already have a motto? It’s called Murphy’s Law!”

And from our 8-year-old:

“Impossible is just another form of possible.”

“Sweet is good. Sour is bad.”

“Don’t eat all the cheese.”

Work in Progress

Our family motto is still a work in progress, but I think we have a great start.

I know one family who recently worked together to create an oversize barnwood sign with their favorite scripture verse on it.

We might just have to steal this idea once we decide!

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