top of page

Part Two; Core Values

Have you seen some of that wooden pallet-art around in shops?

They say things like

  • In this family we:

  • We do grace

  • We do real

  • We make mistakes

  • We give second chances

That’s what this week's and last week’s podcast is all about:

Creating a list of values or sentences that your family, whether it’s big or small, agree on. A list that’s unique to your crew.

Last week we talked about how to gather and enthuse them and a few questions to start them with.

So do pop back to last week if you haven’t had a chance to listen to it as it forms the groundwork.

Listen here

This week I want to chat about how to harness what they’ve talked about and put it together so that you end up with a list or sentence that reflects the flavour and sense of your family. Something they’ve all contributed to and can own together.

It’s best to have a few gatherings over a period of time. This enables your meetings not to be too long and leaves them wanting more.

And it is also and mainly because the process is as important as the outcome. They’ll engage at a deeper level if it’s something you’ve been working on together over a season, rather than a list you’ve put together quickly.

If you’re a very efficient person, challenge yourself to let this be a bit of an ongoing project!

Over a few gatherings you’ll start to notice the key themes; words that are coming up regularly. You’ll find some common areas where the children are saying the same things, perhaps in different ways.

Pop that on your paper, post it notes, ipad or tek.

Lean into things that seem important to them and ask them why.

One of ours had a habit of always running late, so there was a good conversation about timing, another one of our children, young as he was, didn’t like being late so we asked him how it made him feel, then we chatted about whether to include that.

The wording isn’t important at this stage. And nothing is formal yet, it’s just a good space to speak about things that matter to each child.

It’s helpful to have a few values written down of your own so that you can raise things as potential points. See the list below.

Have a look at those as a couple, or on your own if you’re single, to have given some thought to what feels important to you first so you can know what your personal values are when you come to discussing it with them. It makes for interesting conversation.

Sometimes you can be jogging along totally unaware that you fit into a stereotype. We were!...

When we would go out, I’d be in the car, on time and my husband would be faffing around in the house. I hate being late, so this would frustrate me no end. In the end I have to confess I beeped the horn on occasions.

He, on the otherhand, was gathering umbrellas in case it rained,

  • wellies

  • suncream

  • snacks

Yup, he’s far more of a Mary Poppins than I am, (but don’t tell him I said that).

Among the values on our sheet was

Timeliness and preparedness. So obvious really now, but when we first saw them as values it helped us to realise that my day was improved by being on time and his was improved by knowing that we’d covered all, or most eventualities. We had different core values.

After that epiphany, I would go back into the house and ask him what I could help him gather. And eventually we even managed to do that before departure time.

Some values will be about attitudes towards each other

  • Such as kindness

  • Generosity

  • Honesty

  • Compassion

Then there will be some that are values for ourselves. They affect others, but are personal aspirations

Such as





And there will be some that lead to discussions about how to spend time together such as

Such as

  • Fun

  • Rest (as in what refreshes us, quiet times, chilling)

And some that tap into our otherliness

Such as

  • Charity (whether that’s supporting one, or kindness to neighbours)

  • Environmentalism

  • Equality

As you chat about values and explain what they are you’ll see that different children gravitate towards different ones.

Begin to group their ideas and have a heading.

The heading can be a one word, such as a value,

like KINDNESS for example.

Or it could be a sentence such as

"We use kind words and speak gently to each other."

One of ours that made the cut was simply

We don’t shout.

We preferred sentences because it captured a broader essence of what they meant.


There are no rules to what you put down, this is your unique family’s reference point.

Try not to be too idealistic. Values are something we practice at and aim for, they’re not a binding set of rules and benchmarks. They’re more of a vision than a goal.

So we’re not tying them to a promise, we’re just aspiring to a way of living that we as a group feel is a good way to live.

After you’ve gathered a few times and got the essence of what feels important to you all it’s time to hone it down a bit.

If you’re going for a list, aim for about ten or so because more than that could get confusing and will start to repeat.

However, I know some families encapsulate it all in one overarching sentence.

Ours is just ‘an’ idea, but sometimes it’s helpful to refer to something finished:

We ended up putting it under two headings.

The first was

In our family we like to:

And under that heading was the way we treated each other and what we prioritised in our time together.

And the second was

And be a family who:

That was more about what we wanted to be for others. You could call that charity, you could call it otherliness or just have a Sentence like

We help others

I know that some people put the finished list in order of importance. Ours doesn’t have a ranking and that is because we were trying to head for shared values.

The idea behind it all is that we’re learning to prioritise the needs of the group above any one person’s individual needs.

That is just about the most counter-cultural thing they could learn in this era!

Agreeing on upholding a value because it’s important to someone else, and knowing that they will uphold values that feel important to me is not what is being modelled among our leaders or practiced in our country.

For example

I mentioned about time-keeping earlier and how that wasn’t a high priority for one of our children. But what did matter to him was that there were times and spaces in family life where our busy family was peaceful.

Well that mattered very little to our sharp time-keeper, but during the process they began to see that community is about other people’s values as well as our own. We knew he’d be more likely to uphold it, knowing that time keeping was being addressed.

It would feel counterproductive if we had to chose what was more important; Timeliness or respecting other people’s need for peace. So everything had equal billing.

One way to sort through the thoughts is to group them. That might involve cutting up your paper and putting similar themes in piles, or doing the same with your post it notes, or if you’re on tek - cutting and pasting.

You can do this together or do it for them.

You could apply headings that capture the theme

They’re great at coming up with words

Your next step is to begin to find a sentence together for each group.

Or just stick with the one word if you and they prefer.

When you’ve done that, decide whether you have enough or too many. If you have too many, you could see if you could do a bit more grouping or whittle them down. Being careful of course not to knock anyone’s priorities clean off the list.

One way or another, this step is about agreeing on a final list.

You can re-visit this in a year or two when they’re all a little older, there might be things you’d add or change. So it’s a ‘for now’ list.

Here a few examples from other families to give you a flavour.

Our family mission is to:

Value honesty with ourselves and others

create an environment where each of us can find support and encouragement in achieving our life's goals.

Respect and accept each persons' unique personality and talents

family mission:

To love each other…

To help each other…

To believe in each other…

To wisely use our time, talents, and resources to bless others…

To worship together…


Family Vision

Our family is happy and has fun together

We all feel secure and feel a sense of belonging.

We support each other in our seen and unseen potential

Here are a couple of lines from ours:

Find solutions where there are problems

Treat each other with care, respect and patience

So once you’ve worked out what yours says, it’s time for the next creative part. What are you going to do with it?

You could keep it

in a drawer

in a file on your computer

but you could also find a way to display it, and the room to do that it. Ours is on the fridge, just typed out neatly.

It would be far more fun to do it in a way that creatively reflects you all.

Your kids might choose to write the sentences up and use all the colouring pens. They might prefer for you to do that, or you might just prefer a typed list.

I love pallet painting now, so if I’d thought of that back then, that’s what I’d have done.

If you like that idea you’ll find ideas on Pinterest if you put in family mission statement.

I’m going to pop a few pics up on the blog this week to show you how to easily do your own pallet painting, if that appeals to you.

Here are a few examples:

(head to the very end of the blog to see how to make them)

So how do we put a mission statement into practice?

Be careful here. It’s not something you want them to end up hating because it gets held up as the honorable benchmark in their not so fine moments. It’s more of a moral code. Something that helps you with big and small decisions, something to refer to when you’re challenged.

One of ours is

be interested in each other’s interests and issues.’

It’s something I’ve really encouraged them to do over the years and especially after the oldest ones started leaving home. It gives me no end of joy to know that they’re supporting each other through tricky times or decisions, calling each other and taking an interest in each other’s victories and disappointments. They signed up for that over ten years ago and it’s borne fruit.

We’ve also had epic fails!... life is a journey.

I love the word practicing, it gives us grace when we know we’re off-course, rather than a sense of failure.

The process of creating it together will have an effect on them. It will help them to own the values. That’s why the process is as important as the outcome. It’s not a product for the world to see, it’s a collection of your unique families’ core values.

No two will be the same.

It’s like a road map. There will be detours and weather patterns that throw you off route, but there’s a general agreement about where you’re headed.

So here are some ideas to get you thinking. I’m sure you’ll have your own.

Big questions

  • What kind of feeling do we want to have in our home?

  • What kind of home would you like to invite your friends to?

  • What do we want to be remembered by?

  • What kind of relationships do we want to have with one another?

  • What things are truly important to us as a family?

  • What are our responsibilities as family members?

  • What gift and abilities do we see in one another. (that’s such an affirming question)

  • · What are our family’s goals?

  • How do we respect different races and cultures?

  • What legacy do we want to leave?

  • What do we want people to say about our family.

For families of faith, such as ours,

  • what does growing in faith together look like in our family?

There is a chapter with many examples in Parenting For Life, the book available to you at the special price of £14.99 pop here

At the end of the blog is a whole list And here are a few values to talk about and think about what they mean, and what they could look like in a family setting.

I remember our little gathered times together so well, it was a bonding experience and helped us to understand one another.

Love isn’t always something that overwhelms us and causes us to to be awesome. It’s also something we choose, day by day, even when we don’t feel like it. Because the group we’re in is as important as our individual selves.

Values help us to override our feelings. Feelings are important indicators, but dangerous leaders! Having some core values will lead us to be more otherley, even when we don’t feel like it.

I remember our little gathered times together so well, it was a bonding experience and helped us to understand one another.

Love isn’t always something that overwhelms us and causes us to to be awesome. It’s also something we choose, day by day, even when we don’t feel like it. Because the group we’re in is as important as our individual selves. Knowing what other people value helps us to love well.

Do let me know how your gatherings are going, I’d love to hear about or see your mission statements.

Love Mads

Pop here to listen to the podcast this week


List of values

Acceptance Accomplishment Accountability Accuracy Achievement Adaptability Alertness Altruism Ambition Amusement Assertiveness Attentive Balance Beauty Boldness Bravery Brilliance Candor Capable Careful Certainty Challenge Charity Cleanliness Clear Clever Comfort Commitment Common sense

Communication Community Compassion Competence Concentration Confidence Connection Consistency Contentment Contribution Control Conviction Cooperation Courage Courtesy Creativity Credibility Curiosity Decisiveness Dedication Dependability Determination Dignity Discipline Discovery Drive

Effectiveness Efficiency

Empathy Empower Endurance Enthusiasm Equality Ethical Excellence Experience

Exploration Expressive

Faith Fairness Family Famous Fearless Feelings Ferocious Fidelity Focus Foresight Fortitude Freedom Friendship Fun Generosity Genius Giving Grace Gratitude Greatness Growth Hard work Harmony Health Honesty Honor Hope Humility Humor Improvement Independence Individuality Innovation Inquisitive Insightful Inspiring Integrity Intelligence Intensity Intuitive Joy Justice Kindness Knowledge Lawful Learning Liberty Logic Love Loyalty Maturity Openness Optimism Order Organization Originality Passion Patience Peace Persistence Playfulness Power

Present Productivity Professionalism Prosperity Purpose Quality Realistic Reason Recognition Recreation Reflective Respect Responsibility Restraint Results-oriented Reverence Rigor Risk Satisfaction Security Self-reliance Selfless Sensitivity Serenity Service Sharing Significance Silence Simplicity Sincerity Skill Skillfulness Smart Solitude Spirit Spontaneous Stability Status Stewardship Strength Structure Success Support Surprise Sustainability Talent Teamwork Temperance Thankful Thorough Thoughtful Timeliness Tolerance Toughness Traditional Tranquility Transparency Trust Trustworthy Truth Understanding Uniqueness Unity Valor Victory Welcoming Winning Wisdom Wonder

  1. Cut up some pallets to the size you'd like

2. give them a sand, We have an electric one, but a bit of old fashioned sand paper does the job.

3. Paint or not, as you envisage.

4. Sand again for the rustic look.

5. Head to your computer and play around with your words and fonts till you get what you'd like.

Then lay them out on the pallets. I found that I had to print them a couple of times to get the right sizes.

6. Turn the paper over and rub pencil all over the back of the print so it looks grey.

Then pop them back the right way and do a hard line around the letters with pencil or biro

. The underneath charcoal will imprint the letters on to the wood. Just like the old fashioned way of tracing.

7. Then paint it. With a small paintbrush this is really easy. I used white paint from the garage and also I've used chalk paint from Hobby Craft. The chalk paints need a bit of water to loosen them up.

Hey presto!

Line them all up accurately and push them just over the ledge of your table and run a pencil or sharpie line up and down the pallets. Turn it around and do it again the other side so that when you turn them over you have an accurate line to follow when lining them up upside down.

Screw a piece of wood across the planks to hold them together. pop in your hooks and string up.

Send me yours, I'd love to see it.


bottom of page