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Having a family motto can provide direction to your family

So what is a family motto? Does anyone actually have one? How will having one help me?
Susan Swann, FamilyShare Modified: May 19, 2014 at 8:04 am •  Published: May 27, 2014

A family motto is a slogan or guiding principle that can help coalesce your family around a shared understanding of what's important to you. Family mottos are typically short and memorable so that the whole family can easily recall them. They don't have to be original or unique, and they work best when they provide a vision that governs the direction your family wants to go.

How can a family motto make a difference?

A family motto can unify your family, focusing them around a mutual philosophy that can foster good choices in both adults and children. For example, a family motto might be something such as, "We're the Jensens. We never give up," or "We're the Garcias. What we give is more important than what we get." The idea is that your family motto sends a signal to your children regarding what your family is all about.

Every day when family members left the house, they saw the motto

My brother Brent and his wife Marcia had their family motto stenciled on the door leading from their kitchen into the garage. Every day when family members left the house to go to school or work or out to run errands, they came face to face with the family motto: "Return with Honor."

This motto expressed what was most important in their home, which was to leave the house every day and do the very best you could and taking care not to compromise your personal integrity or the integrity of your family. The concept of honor for their family also implied faith and trust in God as well as keeping commitments. Everyone knew what was expected of them and they followed through. The children are now grown with children of their own. They still remember how important it is to "return with honor."

A family motto finds a family

When my children were small, we didn't really have a family motto that guided our actions. After I was divorced, we didn't have a family motto, at least not until several years later. We didn't find our family motto, so much as our family motto found us. It was my son Alex who first came up with it. It went something like this: "We're the Swanns. We work together as a team. Teamwork doesn't seem work."

The idea was that we supported each other and watched over each other and when we pulled together as a group, life worked better. My two children both have children of their own now, but we all meet together Sunday nights, across three different states, via Google Hangouts. We take turns sharing what's new and important in our lives, and we offer support where needed. It's the best hour of my week.