How do you establish your family’s core set of values?
What are the standards that are important for you and your children?
How can you ensure that your children maintain those standards when they are not at home?
How can you re-establish your family’s core values once they have been broken?
One of the ways you can begin the process of establishing your family’s core values is to uncover the traditions and activities that are treasured in your household. Some families enjoy creating a weekly meal together while other families make it a priority to attend a worship service every weekend. From these communal activities you can begin to discover that if your family enjoys creating a structure around weekly meals, the values for your family could be support, fellowship, and loyalty. For families who make spiritual practice a priority in their homes, the core values could be faith, community, loyalty, and service.
To begin exploring the heart of your family’s values, gather your family together and ask the following questions:
- What do we enjoy doing together as a family?
- Why are these activities important to us?
- What feelings do we experience when we engage in these activities?
- What values would you use to describe our family activities?
Once you have discovered and clarified your family’s core values, it’s critical for you to share with your children why certain values are important for the well-being of your family.
For example, if trust and openness are core values for your children, you could share something such as, “I really appreciate when you are open with me about what’s going on at school. Your openness helps me to be reassured that you feel safe in your environment.”
If loyalty is key for your family, you might say, “Loyalty is important in our family because I always want you to know that you can depend on us to support you in whatever you do.”
Giving your children clear guidelines for why certain values are important in your family helps them to take ownership of your family’s values and adopt these qualities into their everyday behavior.
Having your children demonstrate your family’s values at home or in your presence is one thing, but how can you ensure that your children will display these same behaviors at school or within the community at large?
You have to start by reinforcing your expectations of how you want your children to show up in the world. This isn’t simply about making sure that your children are a good reflection on you as a parent. Reinforcing your family values helps them begin to use these characteristics to shape who they will become. Your children may not retain all of your family’s core values throughout their life, but setting the expectation for qualities such as respect, tolerance, and hard work can become the foundation for helping your children to aspire higher in education, a future vocation, or creating their own family in the future.
Before your children begin a new school or extracurricular activity, you can have a reminder conversation about your family values such as, “You know that we really value teamwork and loyalty in our home, and those are the same values that I know you can use with your new team.” It’s equally important to share with teachers, clergy, neighbors, and other adults who share time with your children about your family values and your expectations for how your children should demonstrate those characteristics outside of the home.
So what happens when a family value is broken?
As we shared in our last post communication must begin with trust and authenticity. Be honest with your children when there is a breakdown in your core values. It’s OK to say, “I know that I told you we were going to the park today, and I’m sorry that I did not keep my promise to you. Promises are important in our family, and I want you to know going forward that I will do my best to honor my promises.” Showing your children how you model honesty and awareness when a value is broken will help them to follow your lead and be more transparent and forthcoming with you.
Every family has sacred values that are both carried down through generations and created newly with new marriages, births, and adapting to the times that we live in. Take the time to uncover your family values and share those traditions with your children. Your family’s unique values will keep the lines of communication open and help your children grow into who they want to be.
What are your family values? How do you help your children learn and act according to these values?
Feature image courtesy of Unspash, Tim Marshall.