Successful companies and educational institutions today have mission statements.

A mission statement explains the purpose of the company. Everybody working there fully understands what the company is trying to establish. A successful organization has everyone focused and working towards the fulfillment of its mission statement.

For example, "Our mission is to ensure customer satisfaction at all times" or "Our products are of a high standard". All staff, from the cleaner to the CEO, will ensure that all their actions are in accordance with their company’s mission statement and bring high quality products and customer satisfaction.

A wise man once said, "If you want to see the strength of a nation look at the strength of its families." So if a mission statement can make a company stronger and more productive, common sense dictates that the same applies to the family. A well thought out and written family mission statement will ensure a happy and secure family environment.

Many teenagers today suffer great difficulties when they have to make choices between right and wrong. The suicide rate here in Australia is one of the highest in the world. Perhaps one of the reasons, I would suggest, is that they lack clear values and purpose for life.

A mission statement incorporates values and principles which are important to all family members. Therefore, they all choose to live by it at all times.

If your mission statement reads, "In this family we tell the truth at all times and at all costs," you cannot then tell your child "Tell them I’m not here now" when you receive an unwanted call. Or, if your mission statement reads, "We are a loving and caring family, we are helpful to each other at all times," you cannot then speak derogatively of another person or refuse to help them.

The entire family sits down for a meeting to work out what their mission statement is. Once adopted, it gets written down and placed where all family members can see it. It can be reviewed and altered as time goes on.

If any member of the family does something contrary to the mission statement then, instead of criticizing the person, we can simply ask them to check whether this action fits in with our mission statement or not.

When our children become teenagers they will automatically and subconsciously refer back to their family mission statement. This will reinforce their set of values and who they really are and will help them to make positive choices accordingly.

As parents, we are the first to set an example and live by the family mission statement. Because our actions speak louder than words, children will learn much faster when we practice what we preach. We should be brave enough to ask our children to remind us (in a respectful way, of course) when our actions step out of line with our mission statement.

Some families already have a mission statement without even realizing it and all family members know just what is acceptable or unacceptable in their family. However, getting the whole family to develop and write it down increases their commitment to it. It also makes it easier to live up to, as everyone understands that this is a decision that they all chose to live by.

Try it - you’ll like it!

By Rabbi Yaakov Lieder