Family Constitution

Family Constitution

May 16, 2018

All this talk about quo warranto, impeachment, and the unprecedented ouster of our Supreme Court Chief Justice has made me think about the Constitution.

Our Constitution is the fundamental law of our land, a set of principles according to which our country is governed.

If you belong to my generation, you might have also memorized the preamble, “We, the sovereign Filipino people, imploring the aid of Divine Providence (now expressed as Almighty God)…” back in our school days, as early as grade school, if I remember it correctly. It is very important to know what basic laws govern our country. Unfortunately, I have a strong feeling that even some of our lawmakers don’t know our Constitution, because elections have become popularity and war-chest contests.

The importance of our Constitution is that it is our master guide in running our country. It is our ultimate compass in resolving issues with different and opposing views.

This reminds me of an old item in my Long-term To Do List – to write our Family Constitution.

While we only hear of a few big family-owned corporations making use of Family Constitutions, I think it may be a good idea to have one even for simple middle class families, written in simple language that can be easily understood by family members and carried out in everyday living.

At the moment, what guides my own family are our long-term goals, mission/vision statements, that are cut into annual objectives with corresponding daily habits to achieve these goals. All these, we talk about during our Yearender where we assess ourselves both on an individual and family basis.

On top of the above, we are also guided by unwritten beliefs and traditions inherited from our parents, which they inherited from their own parents, and so on. Although there is romance in preserving culture through oral tradition, I am a believer in writing things down, keeping stories straight, as faithful as possible to the actual occurrence. In fact, this writing tradition was the seed of my very first book Raising Pinoy Boys.

Among the benefits I see in creating a Family Constitution are as follows.

  1. You create a tangible document that clearly states the values and principles of your family.
  2. Your family and individual goals will have a working compass.
  3. The Family Constitution can provide a framework for decision-making.
  4. In cases of disputes, it can provide as arbitration tool.
  5. It provides and preserves family history.

I’m sure there a lot more benefits from having a Family Constitution.

I am both excited and overwhelmed at the thought of putting this together. I already have several items I want to include which are all part of my vision of my dream family. Honestly, and modesty aside, I’m very thankful for what I already have because most of these items are already being carried out.

Maybe we were helped by our practice of imagining ourselves in future scenarios and discussing them even before we reach the stage – like 1.) until what age can a child stay with the parents; 2.) who pays for the wedding; 3.) how long should one finish a four-year college course; 4.) until when is allowance given; 5.) how much of income/allowance is saved and invested; 6.) how often is family lunch together when children already have their own families; 7.) Christmas celebrations; 8.) Yearender; 9.) family prayer; 10.) how to help each other financially; 11.) what to do with wealth to be left behind, etc.

To give you a glimpse of how it may turn out, here are the quick answers to the above: 1.) No later than 35 years old, or once married, whichever comes first; 2.) pay for your own; 3.) four years; 4.) college graduation; 5.) at least 20% and rate should grow as income grows; 6.) at least every other Sunday; 7.) themed and together as much as possible; 8.) in a place we have not been to together; 9.) every night when together; 10.) no dole outs but enable each other how to get back on track and be clear with debts; 11.) to be used primarily to fulfil family values such as “No Fres-Fausto descendant shall be deprived of quality education because of financial constraints.”

A lot of people may feel that there are some things better left unsaid or unwritten especially when it comes to dealing with family members, “Uy, huwag magkwentahan, pamilya ‘yan!” I don’t subscribe to this. The closer the relationship, the more unclear things can become, so make use of straightforward agreements.

Write things down. I’m in the middle of reading (and also listening to the audiobook of) Principles by Ray Dalio, founder of Bridgewater, the world’s largest and most successful hedge fund and I am savoring every page of it despite its thickness. It’s because I fully subscribe to what he does – he writes things down in specific principles, even using algorithm long before it became popular to do so. It’s very systematic.

If we systematize the way we invest or do our job, shouldn’t we do the same for the most important thing? And the Family Constitution can help us do this.

Cheers to systematic yet warm family relationships! wallet-icon





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Rose Fres Fausto is a speaker and author of bestselling books Raising Pinoy Boys and The Retelling of The Richest Man in Babylon (English and Filipino versions). Click this link to read samples – Books of FQ Mom. She is a Behavioral Economist, Certified Gallup Strengths Coach and the grand prize winner of the first Sinag Financial Literacy Digital Journalism Awards. Follow her on Facebook & YouTube as FQ Mom, and Twitter & Instagram as theFQMom.


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