Family codes of honor are informal agreements that members of a family follow in order to maintain respect for each other. They’re often used by families with children, but they also apply to adults. If you’re ready to start your own family code of honor, you’ve come to the right place.
Create an informal agreement between family members about how they will treat each other.
If you want to start a family code of honor, here’s what you need to do: 1) Make sure everyone agrees to abide by the rules; 2) Write them down somewhere safe so no one forgets them; 3) Share them with your family.
This important for all families. But it is especially important for enterprising families (i.e., families that own a business).
Set rules for yourself and your children.
A family code of honor is a set of rules that everyone in the family follows. It helps keep everyone on track when there are disagreements or conflicts between family members. It also helps prevent bad behavior from happening again.
Actually, they should be agreements, rather than rules. Rules are something that a person in authority imposes. And nobody likes following arbitrary rules. However, if they are something that everyone buys into and agrees to, that’s a different story. Now you have something with power behind it.
Share them with your spouse.
If you’re married, share your family’s code of honor with your spouse. This will help ensure that both of you follow the same rules.
I share this point because it was an issue in my last marriage. I was in a second marriage. And my wife at the time didn’t want to participate in the process. We never developed a set of values that we agreed on. And (coincidentally?) we ended up getting divorced within two years.
If you and your wife can’t agree on some common rules about how you will treat each other, your relationship is on a shaky footing.
It’s easy to slip up when you’re trying to live by a code of honor. So, make sure you stick to it. Don’t let yourself off the hook because you had a bad day at work or got into an argument with your partner.
Don’t let anyone break the rules.
If you find yourself breaking the rules, take responsibility for your actions. Tell the people involved what happened and apologize. Then try to fix things so that it won’t happen again.
I talk about this in my book Lasting Wealth: A Revolutionary Method of Family Wealth Transfer. (It’s available on Amazon.) I mention that one of the rules should be to “Call it.” If you see someone breaking the Code of Honor, you have to be willing to stand in the heat and call it out. And you need to be willing to be called out yourself.
How to Get Started.
You can certainly start on your own. However, you might find it helpful to have a facilitator. (We can help!)
To get started on your own, here are some ideas.
- Where does your family have problems with communication? What agreement can you implement to solve that going forward?
- Does your family come together when there’s a problem? Or do some people “disappear?” How can you solve that?
- Where do you want your family to be in 50 years? 100 years? What habits do all family members need to develop to make that happen?
- What are your family members’ priorities?
Champion Families Have Family Codes of Honor
A championship team has the following priorities: Mission first, team second, individual third. This is similar to how the U.S. military maintains its combat readiness. Of course, life is not always as cut and dry as that. In the military, someone can be marshaled and kicked out. It’s kind of hard to kick someone out of a family.
You can still allow someone to be “in the family,” but not participate in the family code of honor. You still love them. However, maybe it means they won’t be participating in family meetings and voting on issues involving the family’s future.
Does your family want to be a championship team? If you’re not all rowing in the same direction, it’s pretty hard to predict where you’re going to end up. If you want to move into the future with power and confidence, you need to agree on your mission first and focus on that together.
A Family Code of Honor is Especially Important for a Family Business
I said previously that having your own family code of honor is important for a family that owns a business. Individual family members can go in different directions and survive. But a family business needs leadership. It needs to have a direction it’s heading in.
Ready To Start Your Own Family Code Of Honor?
Strong families are not created by legal documents. It takes a commitment among the family members. And creating your own family code of honor is a great method.
Founding attorney Paul Deloughery has seen families with codes of honor survive the most difficult challenges. And he has seen families without such shared values get torn apart even with perfect legal documents in place.
If you want to create a strong family, give us call at 602-443-4888. This is one of our specialties. And we would love to help you!