21 Ideas for Your Family’s Code of Ethics

Family code of ethics
Photo: https://unsplash.com/tonynaccarato

In truth, these are 21 ideas for my family’s code of ethics. Feel free to give them a look and steal a couple if you’re like me and think about things like family codes of ethics. I’d rather call them something more whimsical, but I’m struggling at the moment, so I’ll stick with code of ethics.

Steal a few because they are not original to me.  A few are directly from sermons I’ve heard or books I’ve read or random ideas from podcasts. All of them originated from those sources at least indirectly as people and experiences have shaped my thinking.

Family code of ethics
Photo: https://unsplash.com/tonynaccarato

Why Have a Family Code of Ethics (or Rules to Live By or How We Do Things ‘Round Here Principles)

This is one of those ideas that had never occurred to me until the last couple years. And it hasn’t grabbed hold of me and my wife enough to make us sit down and work through it and clarify which 10, 12, or 13 (or 7 maybe?) items we’d like to include quite yet.

But the older my children get, the more I feel the need to be clear on what I hope we value as a family.

Most families, I’m sure, haven’t codified this type of thing. While families will always reflect the values that slowly build up around the way they do things and treat each other, very seldom are these values developed with intentionality.

If part of my life’s work is my family, then it would make sense to be intentional about how our family operates. A code of ethics frames the character and practices we’d like to build into our family over time. If businesses do this to help support their vision, mission, and purpose, how much more important is it for families to do so?

Another reason why I think this is important is because I would love to give my children short phrases that might (hopefully) come to mind when they find themselves up against difficult situations and decisions. Frankly, I could use some reminders, too.

I know this exercise isn’t mandatory for a family to function and love well, but it can’t hurt, either.

My Initial Code of Ethics Brainstorm Session

We’re in the process of selecting what to include in ours. Here are 21 ideas from a recent personal brainstorming session. Some might not make sense to you. You can ask about any of them in the comments. I’ll expand on them in the future (and give credit where credit is due).

  1. Complete the job
  2. Boys go down, girls go free (The guy takes the bullet, takes a protective stance, puts the women and children in the lifeboat first. For a much more eloquent explanation, check out minutes 35:00-40:00 from this video).
  3. What does love require of you?
  4. Smile when you talk
  5. Take responsibility
  6. Be generous
  7. Have fun
  8. Be honest
  9. Share the load
  10. Communicate with kindness
  11. Bring the temperature down
  12. You’ll get better – Nobody is awesome the first time they try something
  13. Just ship it
  14. What is healthy?
  15. Explore everything
  16. Try something new
  17. What is the wise thing to do?
  18. One extra step
  19. Do difficult things
  20. Danger can be good
  21. Seek God

We hope to settle on no less than 7 and no more than 13.

What would be in your family’s code of ethics?

Do you think this kind of thing is helpful or important?

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  1. Brett, Your 21 code of ethics are a good start but maybe put the 10 commandments at the core. You have covered most in the 21 just modern wording. This is a great idea to share with your family. Love the idea :o) When you decide on whatever number of ethics you choose be sure to display them in your home.

    1. Good point! I do hope that the gist of them are represented, but maybe I should reverse engineer to see. I’ll make sure to post later once we settle on the final 13. Perhaps I’ll even get some input from the kids to help dial things in.

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