Unsure how to identify what makes your family unique?
Write out 6-8 characteristics that make your family unique from all the other families you know.
Think of the words other people use to describe your family. Sometimes it is more obvious to friends than it is to you as an insider.
Here are examples describing family uniqueness:
- We’re a mechanical family, fixing cars and sharing tailgate food with other families at car rallies.
- We love being hospitable and often have visiting guests from foreign countries stay with us and share our meals.
- We devote our free time toward volunteering with a particular group or activity.
- We’re ready to pack up the RV on a whim- or gather the passports – or grab hiking gear.
- We’ve adopted children, or who have rallied around a biological child with a disability, and participate in a community of such supporters.
- We own a particular asset that isn’t the norm… such as a boat, a farm, real estate in a particular area, a home business
- We have either easy access to big city life or easy access to deep country life.
Turn the keywords and key phrases of what describes your family into a breezy, easy to capture way of describing the essence of your family’s uniqueness.
You are not typecasting your child. Using your family’s uniqueness is not the same as determining your son’s future. Your child’s future identity will not be a clone of your family’s current identity.
For now, ignore any possible unhappy parts of your family life. Those are realities, at various degrees in everyone’s life, but you don’t need to worry about any of those difficulties to tap into your family’s uniqueness. There is always a power simmering right below the surface, even when your family is less than perfect.
In fact, having your child tap into your family is going to make it easier for your family to grow closer together.
You are looking at using your family’s unique culture to super-charge your child’s own small interest into something much bigger. We’ll get into that in just a minute.
Ready? Go ahead and write out your family uniqueness:
Need help with an example?
Here’s a description of my own family’s culture. It’s different than that of all my friends, who also have a curiously separate and endearing culture of their own. Yours will be different too:
We are a large, entrepreneurial family constantly on the lookout for new and innovative ways to build talent and marketable skills within our kids. We test ideas with our own children so that we can share our discoveries with other families in order to help them.-Harris Family
How to Insert Your Child’s Contribution Into Your Family’s Unique Culture
You have now identified your family’s uniqueness and set the stage for your child’s personal interest.
It’s time for your teenager to make his own stage right entrance to start applying his personal interest with the help of your family’s tools.
By boosting his family’s culture he is going to simultaneously boost his own personal opportunities.
Look for an opening, clear the way for him, and deliberately encourage him to apply his interest in a way that is helpful to both the family and to his own individual desires.
Be deliberate in your welcome. You are the guardian of the family and your child wants to know he is wanted on stage.
Why is bringing value so important in order to create strong inner-motivation? Young people need external affirmation that their skills and work matter. When your teenager starts contributing to the well-being of the family’s culture, he will immediately start receiving external and well-deserved affirmation.
Your young person who contributes to the joy that belongs to your family will believe that what he does matters, even if it might be at first a small contribution. He believes it because he already knows what truly matters to your family.
Keep encouraging your child to develop and mature his skilled interest in a way that brings real value to the family.
All this engagement on the home front in the context of family culture will build up your son or daughter. This is in preparation to create real value to situations even outside your family.
The outside world just slightly beyond your family is going to start calling your young person to become more bold.
Your child’s boldness to face the scrutiny of the outside world is going to be built up by first successfully performing in your family’s private play.
Here’s an example of how your child’s interest would make enhance your family’s uniqueness by bringing real value:
Imagine that your daughter has a serious core writing skill she is developing as part of her long-term talent.
She takes her craft seriously. She is able to write with poise and conviction.
Imagine also that your family’s identity is found in providing hospitality.
Your family unit is known for being that hospitable family at church to whom everyone turns to whenever there is a person or event that needs to be honored in an appropriate way.
Your family knows how to get people together and you take great joy as a family unit in helping others to honor those important occasions in life.
Those two apparent disconnected pursuits could stay disconnected. And that’s how most people would see the situation.
Most would look at the fact that your daughter is growing up in a hospitable family as completely the same as her growing up in a musical family…in other words your family’s identity is irrelevant. At best, it is meant for your daughter to tolerate or pass by your family’s identity as the proverbial ship in a dark night, while trying to find time for herself to carve her own way. At worst, it can erupt into serious family conflict, resolved by either the daughter or the family having to give up their focus in order to sacrifice for the other.
This the better way: you MAKE those two worlds of writing and hospitality connect. This requires some imagination, but not anything outside of a little effort. There are usually several ways that you could come up with to connect two worlds.
One way would be to enlist your daughter’s writing skill to enhance your family’s already great strength in the area of hospitality.
A writer needs something to write about and needs to write for someone.
A young person especially needs quick feedback as to whether what she is doing is appreciated, or if it’s completely a talk to her bedroom wall.
This immediate outlet for her writing is what you provide for her through your family identity. In practical terms, this would translate into such things as having her compose short biographical sketches of the people or events being honored for that occasion and in following up after with congratulatory and thank-you notes and summaries of the event for the rest of the people who could not be there.
This range of events to be written for, and for which she would almost have free reign within the safety of her family’s sphere of influence, would be amazing.
Typical events would be: birthday celebrations, retirement events, wedding showers, baby showers, memorial services, post-ordination receptions, visiting missionaries, receptions for guest speakers, etc. She can easily gauge the feedback she got from exercising her skill. All of this engagement through the use of her writing skills to provide value to others is guaranteed to emotionally super-charge her to want to take her writing skill to the next level.
Notice in the above example at how critical the use of her family’s identity and strength would be at a young age. If she were thirteen and wanted to do such things on her own, most likely she would be blocked (and correctly so) as being too young and inexperienced. Most likely she would not even have the vision or the social savvy to initiate on her own to such a service level to other people.
But because it is her parents’ strength and joy to do hospitality, they can easily clear that way for her and protect her from any social danger. Eventually, yes, that daughter, without her parents’ involvement, might find a way on her own to get that involved, but that is not likely to be possible until she is at least sixteen or seventeen.
The difference between her parents connecting her talent with her family, and her parents being disconnected from her talent growth is the difference of three years. It is probably even more than that as the developed skills compound in usefulness.
Here is a list of shorter examples of how we have used the various individual sparks of teenage talent in my family lent in support of the Harris family culture:
- We have welcomed the artistic hand of our teenage daughter in order to create a quirky packaging label for one of our retail products.
- We have called on our younger “techy” son to check for simple computer issues when his artistic older sister or his blog writing grandpa need some but confident troubleshooting.
- We put an older teenage son, who is a coder and a wordpress expert, on speed dial. He continues to jump in and fix all sorts of issues for his siblings who have websites of their own to use for showcasing their respective talents
- We have a 15-year-old sound design guy and aspiring voice-over actor who is very fast at editing recorded interviews for business friends who belong our mom’s mastermind business group
You can bet that when our kids are complemented by guests and adult friends for their skills, they are extremely motivated to get even better at what they do.
As the value your child delivers to others increases, his motivation increases!
Remember that at this stage, your child is actually capable of delivering value because you have already stacked the tools and connections on top of the personal interest your child already has.
The personal interest graduates from being an internalized focus to an outward facing focus.
Bringing value to others is THE critical pivot of what he does that will unleash within him a deep motivation and passion.
Your child will feel exhilarated by being able to create something concrete and visible that matters to others.
Your teenager is sensing that he is a contributing factor to your family’s uniqueness and happiness.
When your family gets together and is in the “happy zone”, your young person’s unique applied interest is partly to contribute to that heightened feeling of family wellbeing.
Your son or daughter will explode with intense pride. He will want to keep using personal skill to be the one to add a new dimension to your family’s life.