The U.S. Constitution stands as one of the most brilliant pieces ever written. It dances gracefully on the edge between law and grace. Freedom and responsibility. It’s the ultimate arbiter of disputes in our local, regional and national political systems.
It’s a beautiful thing.
Several years ago, I stumbled across the idea of developing a family constitution . . . a process for creating a set of core principles to guide a family unit. It was outlined in the appendix of The Hidden Value of a Man.1
Just as our U.S. Constitution is the ultimate “decider” of issues, so the family constitution would be the base-line “law” of how a family would work and how it’s members would behave. In building such a document, the book suggests conversations with your wife and kids—lots of conversations. We’ve included some things you might want to share should you choose to develop a Family/Marriage Constitution & Value System
1. Discuss your purpose statement. As the leader of your family, it’s critical everyone know what you perceive your life purpose to be. An excellent opportunity to share your faith with your family. You can’t do that too often!
2. Discuss your priorities and develop a plan to pursue them together – Here’s where you might develop ‘conventions’ like having dinner together each night, daddy date nights for daughters and ‘guy trips’ with boys, weekly dates with your wife, church involvement, service to the least of these and the community, etc.
3. Develop a “family value system”
- What will our family stand for?
- What will we want to always do?
- What will we never do?
- How will we resolve conflict?
- What will be our focus?
- What is our “911” plan?
4. Goals and dreams -‐ House? Where? How much is enough? Kids? Finances? Saving? Who pays for college? How far does parental funding go? (Giving, Saving, Living on the rest – Family stance on credit cards and debt)
Here’s an example “Family Constitution” from the book:
1. We recognize that God loves us and will meet all our needs through His riches in glory. We also realize He will use our trials to bless us and develop more of His love within us.
2. We purpose this day to honor God and His creation above ourselves.
3. We agree to resolve any angry conflicts between ourselves each day before the sun sets.
4. We resolve this day to lovingly and meaningfully touch each other as needed on a daily basis.
5. We understand the value of spending meaningful time together. Therefore, we agree to schedule regular monthly activities that each family member can enthusiastically support.
6. We recognize that all our money belongs to the Lord, and we purpose to seek His will and wisdom regarding the earning, giving, saving, and any other use of His funds.
7. We further recognize that God has created each person as a unique individual with differing strengths and personality characteristics. Therefore, we will endeavor to discover these differences and learn to accept and praise them.
8. We each recognize the great importance of daily meaningful communication between one another. Therefore, we purpose to spend the necessary time each day, as possible, to carefully listen to each other and to express our deepest thoughts and needs.
9. We resolve to care for one another in a tender and affectionate manner.
10. We agree to believe the best in each other and to trust the words and actions of one another as honest. If this trust is broken at any time, we all agree to restore the trust by confessing the untruths, by seeking forgiveness, and by making any necessary restitution.
1Smalley, Gary and John Trent. The Hidden Value of a Man. Largo, MD: Living Books, 2005. Print.