Family mottos - good mottos to live by

Why You Need Family Mottos

“You have family mottos?”

“Yeah… Well, we have these phrases that my dad taught us. My mom added some too.”

This is a common conversation when people are talking to our girls.

The next question is always “What are your family mottos?”

Soon, three Goodwin girls are reciting by memory our list of fun family mottos that are a part of our family culture.

They are good mottos to live by and things that our girls can fall back on throughout their lives.

I shared a few of our family mottos briefly in this post but I’ve been asked by some of you to expound a bit and share them all.

Family Mottos - Good mottos to live by

Apart from family devotions and parenting ahead, these family mottos are at the core of raising our girls especially in their teen years.

What is a motto? says “an expression of the guiding principle of a person, organization; a sentence, phrase, or word expressing the spirit or purpose of a person, organization.”

What is a family motto?

A phrase or slogan that is a guiding principle for your family or a sentence that expresses the purpose or spirit of your family.

These phrases will build unity, teach solid principles and provide a strong foundation for all areas of life.

When followed, these family mottos are valuable tools in raising kids who are aware, independent, responsible and kind.

When talked about often, these family mottos will help your kids and give them guidance for the situations they face each day.

Our Family Mottos

1} Life is not fair. This has been a life motto for Jeremy for as long as I’ve known him. Life is not going to be fair. We taught this to our kids church kids when we were pastoring and now, we’ve taught this to our girls. They aren’t always going to be treated fairly. Things aren’t always going to be even or equal. They need to be content, be joyful, be thankful and be positive regardless of whether things are fair. But, they also need to be agents for spotting things that are unfair and see how they can help those around them or make the situation better for everyone. No complaining or whining. Just real ways to move forward and find joy in life.

2} Don’t doubt your dad. Because we travel, adventure, explore and move around a lot, there are always new situations, confusing moments, doubtful expressions and unsure decisions. This motto does not mean “Dad is always right” or that questions aren’t welcome or that mistakes won’t be made. This motto does mean that this family has a leader we trust, support and follow. Whether it is mom or dad giving instruction, making a decision, or planning ahead, it is helpful for the whole family to know they can trust and follow the leader. The girls know that their parents are doing their very best to make sure we are in the right place at the right time with the right tools for the job. The girls know that whether they can see it or not, their parents are on the scene to help them through, have fun and enjoy the journey. This gives the girls confidence to grow, learn and explore freely because dad has a plan! Also, the underlying spiritual meaning is one that we talk about often. Don’t doubt that God knows. He sees us. He knows us. We can live with joy and freedom because God has a plan!

3} Never leave a mushroom behind… there’s always a fungi {fun guy} in the group! This motto came about during a family pizza night. There was one mushroom left in the pizza box and this family loves mushrooms so they all tried to grab the last mushroom. We also love to include everyone, be kind, make sure that no one is left behind and everyone is engaged in the process. Team players, group thinkers, and friend makers. Look around you. See who you can be kind to, talk to, play with, learn from and help. After all, there IS always a “fun guy” in the group!

4} Who, what, when, where and why. These are the pieces of life’s pie. As a family constantly on the move, we must always think things through. We have to look at all angles, make sure we’ve covered our bases and check each nook and cranny for things we might have missed or forgotten. You can’t move overseas, travel the world and explore new places without this motto. Every day we must be aware of our surroundings, be prepared for what the day might bring and make sure we’ve thought through the variables. Thinking ahead, planning and working hard to see what is happening around you are life skills all kids need to know. Teaching our teens to be critical thinkers and help them use that as a normal thought process for every area of their lives. Good critical thinking skills for when they go out on their own!

5} Always fill a water bottle. This motto comes from life in Africa and having to filter our water. If no one fills the filter, we don’t have water to drink. If no one fills the water bottles, we can’t filter more water. If you leave an empty water bottle in the fridge, then the next person won’t have cold water on a hot day. Being thoughtful, helpful, kind and seeing how you can meet a need are things we want to instill in the fiber of our family. Asking how can I help or what can I do every time you enter a room. Is there an empty water bottle? Fill it. It doesn’t matter who emptied the bottle. Fill it.

Family mottos - good mottos to live by

6} There is always a Nellie in the group. Remember Nellie Olsen from Little House? There will always be someone like her in the group, the room, the work place, the classroom or the church. Always. Learning to help, lead, teach, interact with and engage someone who is not always friendly or kind is a very important life skill. Being able to see beneath the unfriendliness to the person inside, seeing them the way that God sees them and treating them the way you would want to be treated are principles that will change the world. People around us are hurting and they often react from that hurt. How can we be a part of staying kind, helping others and befriending those who others might overlook? On the flip side, never BE the Nellie in the group. Watch your attitude, stay kind and be positive. You don’t have the right to be mean or have a bad attitude just because you are having a tough day or things aren’t going your way.

7} What do you do if the grass seems greener over there? Water your grass. This came about because of our most recent transition back overseas. Boy, it seems nice that some kids never have to move, never have to sell their stuff, never have to change houses, never have to start a new school. Wouldn’t that be AWESOME? Well, actually, that has it’s own issues. And those kids might think the grass is greener for kids who get to move and travel! So, water the grass where you are. What can you do to make it better, to be more content, to find joy, to grow in your season of life? The grass really ISN’T greener anywhere else. Water your own grass.

Check out this amazing wall art created by my friend, Christina from Get Joy!! Isn’t it beautiful?

Family mottos - good mottos to live by

Through these 7 mottos, we have other principles that surface in our family motto conversations.

Stay balanced – Never lean so far one way that you can’t see the other side.

Stay under the umbrella of God’s Word – Live on His path. He has a purpose for your life!

Remember God loves you – Every day. Even when you make mistakes.

Family is forever – Other people come and go but family is always there.

Every thought captive – Think, listen, read, watch, say things that are lovely. Reject all the rest.

Sharing is caring – Except hats and chapstick. {ask the girls about this one}

6 Reminders for Our TCKs

We also have a verse that we refer to often as a motto to remember.

In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.” Psalm 4:8

No matter where we are in the world or what is going on around us, we can sleep in peace because God is on the job. He is watching and protecting and keeping us right in the palm of His mighty hand. We reference this verse every night before bed.

There you have it!

Our family mottos, why we have them and how we use them.

A few tips:

1} Have a family meeting or discussion about things that are important to your family.

2} Introduce mottos slowly. One at a time.

3} Use words, phrases and sayings that you are already using in your family.

4} Incorporate your new motto or mottos in daily life around your house so they become part of your regular parenting. You’ll be surprised how fast your kids connect to them and memorize them!

5} This won’t solve all your family and parenting problems. Sorry. I still have to tell my kids to put their iPads down and go fold laundry. BUT it does lay a powerful foundation you won’t regret!

You can find some great tips for creating your own mottos here. Or, check out this fun list for ideas.

Plus, a few tips on writing a family mission statement.

Do you have family mottos? What are they and how do you use them in your family?

Did you have family mottos growing up?


  1. I love this list! Especially “Don’t doubt your dad”…I need to say this to myself- he’s so good at pushing me out of my comfort zones & I need to trust his leadership more & model it for my kids.
    Our motto is “You get what you get & you don’t get upset” My oldest heard it in preschool as a 3 or 4 yr old & it’s sorta just stuck as a reminder to be content.

  2. I love these Jenilee. And they are special ways to communicate what we all need to know–life is unfair, people can be rotten, but we have a responsibility to others and to ourselves to do what we are called by Christ to do and He will take care of us in the process.

    So wonderful.

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