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My wife surprised me with this beautiful gift on Christmas morning – our family charge, hand-lettered by a talented friend. (Thanks, Candice!)

We came up with these four reminders – “Spread love; Live now; Be true; & Shine!” – when our girls were toddlers, and they can recite them on cue. We even had t-shirts made when they were little with a family logo on the front and one of each of the four pillars of our code on the back. (Yes, we can get away with being that kind of family without our kids rolling their eyes at us for a little while longer.)

I don’t know if having such a family code of conduct has any measurable impact on our behavior. But I know I need to be reminded regularly of the kind of person I hope to be. If these reminders can guide a response in a key moment for my kids, it’s worth the effort, and the potential cheesiness, to try to imprint and hardwire in our most prized values.