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Choose a Family Word of the Year

Does your family have house rules? Guiding principles that keep the unit running smoothly? Perhaps they’re even posted on the wall so everyone remembers to abide by them. But what about the changing goals and desires of the family unit – we don’t consider them very much until they become an issue. Choosing a family word of the year will help you make decisions as a family, and everyone will be able to work together as a whole!

  • Ask everyone to consider their roles in the family separately. Give them a few days to write down how they want to help the family, who they want to be, and the direction they want the family to go in the next year. You can help little ones with this by asking them what activities they might want to do as a family, how they can help around the house, and why they’re an important member of the family.

  • Once everyone has done their own thinking, gather for a family meeting and invite them to share their vision of the year for the family and suggest words that could embody the year ahead. Remind them that they can have separate goals outside of the family, but that this specific word should be for the wholefamily. This is also a good time to decide if you want to include extended family, or just the people who live in your house.

  • Write down ALL the suggestions. Every single one, rapid-fire style. Have kids shout them out! You will get ridiculous words and that’s OK. Once you get past the silly ones and the obvious ones, they’ll have to think of more nuanced and meaningful words. This is a good time to remind them that words can have multiple meanings. For example, “novel” can mean new and exciting AND it can be a type of book. If you wanted to try new and exciting things, and read fiction books that include those things to get you hyped up to try them – this might be an especially poignant word.

  • Use a thesaurus. Either a paper one or the online version by Merriam-Webster are great. If there are some words that are almost right, but not quite, look up some synonyms – you might find your perfect word right there!

  • Once you’ve found the perfect word, you can brainstorm all the ways your family can embody that word in the coming year – and write it down! Post the word in large letters on the fridge, or let your kids design a big sign. Refer to it when you’re talking to them, and when you’re trying to make a decision about something that will affect the entire family. Does it jive with your grand vision?

Choosing a word of the year can help crystallize the vision your family has of who they want to be. Does your family have a word of the year? Share it with us!

Originally featured on 1/25/22

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