What Pattern Are You Setting in Your Family?

The survival instinct is to set patterns. This can be done in two ways, either you create a pattern that others follow or you break from the norm and change things up. Patterns are also important for marking your territory and staying safe as well as being able to find resources when necessary.

The “family pattern examples” is a question that has been asked by many people. The answer to the question, will vary depending on the family.

Poster by Arts of Manliness about pattern setting in family.


It’s simple to select whatever is most comfortable and convenient at the time while making decisions about your children and family as a parent. But a friend of mine recently told me that asking oneself, “What pattern do I want to build for my family?” is a far better criteria for making these judgments.

Let me offer you some instances of how we’ve put this advise into practice.

Have you ever gone camping with your kids? It’s a pain in the neck. There’s also the matter of packing and unpacking. The fact that little children can’t do much makes this kind of activity fun (they can’t trek very far, swim, or bait their own fishing hook, for example). And the fact that they roll about in the tent, making an already uncomfortable night’s sleep much worse. For them, the vacation is a delight, but what about Mom and Dad? It’s more of a chore than a game. But, even when the kids were little, we attempted to go camping at least once a year, simply to establish the pattern: “The McKays spend time in the outdoors.”

Example #2: One of our two vehicles is a battered 2007 Honda Element with more than 120k miles. I didn’t like the automobile when we got it while I was in law school a decade ago, and I still don’t like it today. I’d want to have a beautiful vehicle to replace it. However, I believe that retaining the Element acts as a crucial symbol in our family; it establishes the precedent that “we don’t replace anything simply because it’s broken; we use it until it stops working.”

Of course, the patterns you establish will be based on the ideals you wish to instill in your own family.

I know people who have taken their newborns and toddlers on foreign excursions, despite the fact that bringing along this additional “baggage” inevitably caused complications and made things less pleasant for Mom and Dad, since they wanted to establish the precedent straight away: “We’re a family that travels.” I know parents who take their children to church even when they are on vacation, regardless of how exotic or opulent the place, to set the example that “Sundays are for worship.” I’ve heard of families where the whole family, even little children, must go for a run before unwrapping Christmas gifts in order to establish the tone: “Things are lovely, but the best gift is physical health.”

In order to concentrate on the long term rather than the immediate, ask yourself what pattern you want to build for your family. A choice may be convenient and may seem to make the most sense at the time, but it may not contribute to the overall path you want to take your family on.

When your kid has a tantrum at a restaurant for the first time, giving him your phone may seem like a no-brainer and a minor choice. “What pattern do I want to build here?” you could wonder. “We use our phones to ease negative emotions and boredom,” or “We never use phones at the dinner table”?


It’s easy to feel like stepping in and taking over when your kids are “helping” with housework or “helping” you cook, and completing the jobs slowly and incorrectly, and even creating more work for you than if you simply performed the job yourself. But take a moment to consider not only the outcome you want right now, but the result you want in a year, five years, or 10 years. Is it more necessary to do the work quickly or to teach your child responsibility and competence?

My aforementioned friend and her husband made the decision early on that rather than allowing their four children to watch television on Saturday mornings, they would have to read instead. They explain that although the restriction was difficult to enforce when the kids were younger, today when Mom and Dad wake up, they are happy to discover all of their children sitting and reading on the sofa (and they allow themselves to sleep in longer knowing their kids aren’t zombied in front of a screen!).

Asking oneself what pattern you’re building with a given decision may be important for individual decisions, but it’s more potent for family decisions, since you’re creating a little but genuine culture inside the confines of your house. A culture having its own set of rules and customs. A culture that will affect parental happiness and your children’s life considerably more than the things you attempt to more aggressively educate or “lecture” about as an unseen but powerful force. It alters the calculation you use when determining whether or not a choice is worthwhile. When viewed as a stepping stone for things to come, a piece of the scaffolding of your family’s culture, a building block for a pattern-in-progress, what may seem like a small, insignificant choice when viewed as an isolated decision, may seem more important and worthwhile — and more motivating to follow through on — when viewed as a stepping stone for things to come, a piece of the scaffolding of your family’s culture, a building block for



The “breaking family patterns” is a pattern that many people are setting in their family. It can be seen as a positive thing, but it also has its downsides.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the patterns of family?

A: The patterns of family vary from person to person, but most families have parents and children. These parents might be the biological ones or the adoptive ones that a child has chosen for themselves. Additionally, there is usually one spouse within each marriage who plays an important role in both their personal life as well as what they do collectively with their close friends.

What is the 6 dimensions of family patterns?

A: The six dimensions of family patterns are 1) kinship, 2) similarity, 3) function, 4) roles and 5) continuity.

What are negative family patterns?

A: Negative family patterns are things like abusive families, dysfunctional families, or alcoholic families.

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