The Importance of Family Culture: Examples and More

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "How Will You Measure Your Life?" by Clayton M. Christensen. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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What is the importance of family culture? How can you create one in your own home? 

A family culture is made up of the priorities, values, and attitudes that help a child know how to behave. In this article, you’ll find out about the importance of family culture, how you can create one, and examples of family cultures. 

Learn about the importance of family culture below.

The Importance of Family Culture, Explained

In this article, you’ll find out about the importance of family culture and how you can create one that reflects your values. Ultimately, family culture is important because it gives your children a framework for how to behave. 

A family culture ensures that your children know how to do the right thing and behave in a way that reflects your values. When understanding the importance of family culture, this is a key element. 

Read on if you want to understand more about the importance of family culture.

How to Create a Family Culture

Parents need to proactively develop a family culture, or way of doing things, so children instinctively do the right thing when their parents aren’t around because they know that “this is the way our family behaves.” In doing so, children will behave in a way that reflects your values. 

Building a culture involves knowing your priorities and designing a culture around them by demonstrating how problems are solved the right way and repeating the process until it becomes embedded. The example below shows the importance of family culture, and how it can foster positive traits in your children:

If kindness is a family value, help your child choose kindness in a situation where it’s warranted. Make sure he repeats the decision on subsequent occasions; if he doesn’t choose to be kind, discuss how he should have acted differently. Next time, he will be guided by a sense of “this is how we do it.” For example, Christensen and his wife Christine helped their son be kind to a bullied classmate, and praised him when he did it.

Of course, parents need to live by the priorities they articulate. For example, Christensen and his wife wanted their children to love work, so they created opportunities for their children to work with them on home remodeling projects. The kids not only had fun and learned a value, but also developed a sense of accomplishment from the work they did—for instance, they took pride in the rooms they’d helped paint.

You have to build the culture you want and reinforce it so it becomes automatic. If you don’t dictate the standard, negative behaviors will form the culture.

Outsourcing Values

In addition to process capabilities, children need to learn their parents’ priorities and values. You convey your values, often without realizing it, while doing things with your children. 

Kids pick up this information when they’re ready to learn it—you can’t predict when that will be, which is why it’s important to “be there” for them as much as possible. If you’ve filled your children’s time with activities you’re not involved in, they’re likely to pick up the values of the other adults around them when they’re ready to learn.

While providing children with resources is part of a parent’s job, so too is developing their capabilities through chances to develop processes and values. If you outsource this, you’ll lose the opportunity to develop your children into the kind of adults you want them to be.

The Importance of Family Culture: Examples and More

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Elizabeth Shaw

Elizabeth graduated from Newcastle University with a degree in English Literature. Growing up, she enjoyed reading fairy tales, Beatrix Potter stories, and The Wind in the Willows. As of today, her all-time favorite book is Wuthering Heights, with Jane Eyre as a close second. Elizabeth has branched out to non-fiction since graduating and particularly enjoys books relating to mindfulness, self-improvement, history, and philosophy.

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