I slice the earth with the blade of the shovel, digging carefully around the roots of the peony bush. For two years, the bush had not thrived. It had not bloomed well and had gotten powdery mildew on the leaves. It did not get enough sun in its current location. I placed the uprooted plant into the wheel barrel and pushed it around the house and to the front garden, which gets more consistent full sun. I transplanted it next to the arbor that guards the entrance to the vegetable garden. Now it has a spot to flourish.
Cultivating family culture is a lot like gardening. It sometimes takes some transplanting, pruning, and watering to make your family culture really flourish.
Family Culture is Natural
Whether you give it much thought or not, your family already has a culture. Perhaps others can identify your family culture better than you can yourself. Culture can be described as “the sum total of ways of living built up by a group of human beings and transmitted from one generation to another.”
More simply put, family culture is the way your family lives life together. Are you the soccer family whose weekends are spent on the soccer field? Are you the hiking family who camps for vacations and hikes in national parks? Are you the family who reads books out loud to the kids every night? Is your family known for hospitality and having people over every weekend? Or is your family defined by serving the community and volunteer work?
Your family culture already exists and probably flows out of your own passions and interests. But sometimes other people’s expectations of how we should orient our lives can bog down our family culture or we become discontent through comparison. To really flourish, we may need to prune extraneous activities or more intentionally pursue a different way of doing life.
Family Culture is Intentional
Taking time for thinking and planning your own family culture is never time wasted. As Christians, we all desire to “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6) but there are a million ways to go about doing this. As Sally Clarkson writes in her book, Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe, “God has made each couple with the freedom to create their own family culture.” Here are a few questions I ask myself to get me thinking intentionally about our family culture:
- What values do I want to instill in my children?
- What skills do I want my children to learn?
- Does anything need to be “pruned” from our schedule?
- What memories do I want my kids to take away from their growing up years?
- How does our family have fun?
- How can we as a family serve those in need?
By prayerfully thinking about what is important and planning how we spend our time we will help our family flourish. Relationships will have an opportunity to blossom just like my peony plant.