A covenant is a promise made in love. 

The word “covenant” shows up all the time in UU spaces. We begin every church service by speaking our covenant, and we begin our learning gatherings at church by making a covenant about how we will interact. At its heart, a covenant is simply a promise made in love. 

At home, a Family Covenant can give your family a flexible and loving set of agreements about how you’d like to live together. 

Making a family covenant involves everyone! 

  • Set aside time to make your covenant together. 
  • Consider lighting a chalice – this can help your time feel focused, meaningful, and purposeful. 
  • Remind everyone that in the home you share, everyone feels the effects of everyone else’s choices and actions. Sometimes those are good, and sometimes they can make it hard to feel happy, safe, included, or understood.

Write “Covenant” at the top of a big paper or dry erase board, and invite everyone to brainstorm a list of behaviors and boundaries that will help create a positive environment at home. 

  • Give everyone a chance to share their ideas, receiving them with openness and kindness
  • Whenever possible, say what you will do, rather than what you won’t do. Reframe “don’ts” as their opposite, desirable behaviors. 
  • Ask yourselves – how can we help each other live well together? What priorities do you want to protect? Are there particular challenges in your home a covenant can help you manage? Think about:
    • Values you want to practice and reinforce
    • Communication
    • Chores
    • Shared Space
    • Daily routines – mealtimes, school time, bedtime, etc

When the list seems complete, everyone should sign it. Signing the covenant means we promise to follow it, and we promise to talk to each other about it if we think we are breaking any of the promises. 

Hang up your covenant where everyone can see it.

Every family’s covenant will be different, and nothing is written in stone. There’s no one right set of agreements that go in a family covenant. It needs to reflect your unique family and what feels right for you. If the covenant isn’t serving all of you, you can and should change it! It will grow and shift and mature just like we do.