Ever since I was little, my family would get together with our uncles, aunts, and cousins every 2 years. We’d play games, mix and mingle, and we’d always have a talent show.
Most people would call this a family reunion. But to us, it was called “FUMI“.
Where FUMI Began
On January 2, 1974, a family gathered together in a small home located in Forest Grove, OR to sign what would become their Family Constitution. Nine people were present, including my parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents. And there they signed a document that would shape their family for generations to come.
This inspired occasion was organized by my Grandmother, Gloria Richardson, a stalwart mother that raised 6 incredible children and someone who put her family first no matter what. So much so, she decided to create an organization called “FUMI” (pronounced “foo-me”), which stands for “Family Unit Most Important.”
To give you the full context of what FUMI is all about, here are the 10 articles from their Family Constitution:
- Constitution to be read at all Family Reunions
- Family reunion to be held every 2 years
- Different couple in charge each time
- Families to bring movies, pictures, tapes, etc.
- Family prayer at all programs, home evening and family gatherings
- All cousins included in all activities (no favorites)
- Children and parents be respectful and considerate of family member’s private property
- Recognize problems in ourselves and children and correct these problems.
- Show respect and affections openly
- Teach your children at an early age to be helpful when visiting relatives (dishes, beds, etc.)
- Never quarrel with your inlaws
- Teach children to be gracious and kind and always show gratitude to relatives
- Help and support one another, particularly in case of emergency (don’t be too proud to accept help)
- Keep COMMUNICATION lines open
- Do everything possible to nurture LOVE and UNITY in YOUR FAMILY
***THE FAMILY UNIT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT UNIT ON EARTH***
It’s fun to read through that list and reflect back on 30 years of reunions and get togethers and remember all the times I saw those values personified by members of our family. These values were internalized and were woven into everything we did.
Is there any question why my family is so close, so supportive, and so willing to help and uplift and love? If your definition of success includes goals for your family (and it should), then that’s what I call a Pattern of Success.
My Own Family
Recently, my wife and I went through a similar exercise. What values do we want present in our home? What values do we want our children to learn?
We came up with a list of 12 values or themes and each month we study and focus on one theme as a family. For example, one of our values is “Order” and we include a short paragraph along with it:
“The house of God is a house of order. We all strive to keep our home and belongings clean, neat, organized, and not excessive.” (This is especially pertinent with 3 kids ages 4 and under!)
What’s great about this value is that it is entirely unique to our family. We aren’t living it because our HOA says we need to. It’s something that we as a family feel is important and strive to live up to daily.
Next month’s value is “Refuge” (referring to our home) and includes this paragraph:
“Our home is a safe haven from the elements and also shelters us from the filth and evil of the world. We only allow media that is wholesome, pure, and conducive to the Spirit. It’s also a place free of judgment and criticism where each person receives the support and understanding needed to confront and overcome their unique challenges.”
Again, not the most eloquent paragraph ever written, but it is 100% personal and unique to our family, and unites us a family and protects us from things that might rob us of the peace we enjoy inside the walls of our home.
Your Family’s Values
If a stranger were to ask your children what your family values are, would they be able to respond? In fact, when was the last time you asked your kids, and how did they answer?
If you haven’t already, I’d like to challenge you to create your own set of family values and study/teach one monthly. If your kids are young, perfect! We have a preschooler who is learning what it means to be “patient” or “respectful”. And if your kids are older, they might think you’re these value things are a little weird or strange at first. But so what? Be consistent in living and teaching these values and they will bless your family’s life.
Where to Start
If you don’t know where to start, you should check out Teaching Your Children Values by Richard and Linda Eyre. It is an EXCELLENT read and provides you with templates you can use for your own family. To quote the Eyres:
Working together, as a family, on one particular value each month, and then repeating the same values month by month the next year, and the next, is the best way we know to give your children a committed form of ownership of the basic values that are essential to a well-lived life. Focusing on a specific value gives kids real ownership of that value, particularly with an annual repetition. And it is fun just to imagine the legacy parents can leave with a child if he has focused on a set of values every year over the whole course of his childhood.
Again, that’s what I would call a Pattern of Success. You can also find a ton of free resources on their website, www.valuesparenting.com.
I can’t quite imagine what my family would be like if Grandma Gloria hadn’t introduced FUMI over 40 years ago. I highly doubt we’d be as close, tight-knit and supportive of one another.
Here’s a thought: what will your family look like in 40 years? Does your family have a Grandma Gloria, or are they counting on you?