Saturday, November 22, 2014

Finding Our Family Motto

This seems like a phenomenon that might be unique to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but a lot of the families I know have a family motto. 

Kind of like a mission statement, or something that describes what their family is all about.

My friend Liz's family motto is: Work Hard, Play Hard, Serve Others. (A few years ago she tried to add "love God" but her kids, having grown accustomed to the original motto, ran her out of town with pitchforks for suggesting a change.)

I recently read The Parenting Breakthrough, which, by the way, is excellent (and I have a serious parenting book addiction, so I should know.) The author's family has several mottos including, "Boyacks follow the prophet."

We don't have one yet, but I really like the idea of putting a stamp on your family identity with a catchy motto. 

It's something that can run through the kids' heads whenever they're about to make an important decision. In their autobiographies when they've become famous and influential, our kids will probably attribute their success in life to our family motto.

Too much pressure?

Well, I'm up for the challenge. Shortly after finishing the book I mentioned, we sat down for Family Home Evening and held a collective brainstorming session. From now on, we were going to be an effective, cohesive family with a statement no longer than 140 characters to prove it. (Or wait, is that Twitter?)

Well, our Family Home Evening wasn't an overwhelming success, because we started by arguing over how to say our last name.

Having graduated with a bachelor's degree in English, I can tell you that it would be correct for our family motto to say "Evanses are (great/smart/snazzy dressers/whatever.)"

But Phillip thinks that "Evanses" sounds weird. He wants our family motto to say "Evans' are (poor grammarians, etc.)"

I may not be the best English major, but I can tell you that when he suggested Evans', my entire soul cried out in anguish. There is nothing right about the formulation of that sentence.

Normally I'm not a stickler about grammar. (I will never say the word "whom" even when it's right because I don't like the way it makes me sound.) However, there are a few rules of the English language that I hold inviolable, including the one that says you can't just stick an apostrophe anywhere you feel like as long as it's near an S.

Besides, if our family motto begins with "Evans are," that would mean our last name is Evan. Which it isn't.

So there we were, gridlocked in the Evanses-Evans' debate, and I offered a compromise. What about "An Evans is..."? True, it sounded like the beginning of the world's worst family motto (maybe something like "An Evans is a person for whom temperance is a virtue,") but at least it was grammatically correct.

While Phillip and I were busy hashing this out, the kids had removed all the couch cushions to the floor and were jumping between them to avoid lava, meaning that Family Home Evening was officially over.

So... that kind of went nowhere. But I'd still like to have a family motto.

Before we got sidetracked by grammar issues, my kids did manage to contribute "Evanses like pie." And I guess that's pretty accurate, but maybe not quite broad enough.

In the past, I've seriously considered applying the words "Don't freak out" in vinyl lettering on the wall of our home, since going bananas is often our kids' auto response to setbacks.

Maybe that could be our family motto?

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Handsfullmom said...

Don't freak out sounds excellent.

Our motto is "rise up, stand out, and carry on"

The author of the hymn carry on is my kids' great-great-whatever-grandma, so there's that. And our family already stands out just based on size, so I like the double meaning there. I'm hoping the kids see it more as being outstanding in tgeir work, play and service, though.

And the first part is a reference to being strong in faith, rising up to defend the gospel, and just getting better every day.

By the way, my husband and kids argued for a more simple, "rise up and kick trash" but I overruled them. It helped that i was the one to invest in the requisite vinyl lettering .

Jenny Evans said...

I saw that on the wall above your pictures in a post about your kitchen and wondered. 'Rise up and kick trash' is nice, too, but it doesn't quite have the same poetic ring to it.

mother nature said...

When I was a child we didn't have a family motto, but our family song was LOVE AT HOME.

Jenny Evans said...

Sometimes I make my kids hold hands and sing that when they've been fighting too much. Just kidding. It's usually "We are a Happy Family."

Unknown said...

In preschool, my teacher ended every prayer with "God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life." While this didn't become a family motto for my whole family, it became one for me - one my parents (even still) remind me of when life seems to be in a "stuck" state. I try to say it to my kids every night at bed time, but absolutely when they feel insecure or afraid. It's a personal motto, if nothing else.

Jenny Evans said...

I love that one! It applies in every situation: good, bad, or ugly! Thanks for sharing.

Unknown said...

Ours is "No day but today." It is from a musical, and the abridged form of:

"There's only us, there's only this
Forget regret, or life is yours to miss
No other path, no other way
No day but today."

I considered painting on the kitchen wall, but life took my attentions elsewhere.

Great post, Jenny.

Jenny Evans said...

Never seen the musical, but we did sing the song in my high school choir and I always liked the words! I used to have aspirations to put something in vinyl lettering on my wall once, but I settled for doing absolutely nothing.

Katelyn Fagan said...

Ha ha ha. My husband and I are slowly trying to make one for our family too. Something like "Work Hard. Trust God..." something, something. We haven't really hashed out all the deets yet.

Anonymous said...

Actually I was taught in school here in the UK that it should be Evans’ my teacher may have been wrong but he was old enough to have known Moses. ;)
Lynne Nicholson

Tangles of Thread said...

My fav: No blood, no problem.

Jenny Evans said...

Ha! Love it.

PurpleSlob said...

Lynne, Evans' would be correct if it was their possession. Evanses is correct for the collective group of the Evans family.
Don't freak out is a good one, Jenny! Especially if it applies every day! lol