If a friend or another parent were to ask what your family stands for, are you able to instantly give an answer?
Like it or not, we live in a time where there are many voices vying for our children’s attention – Netflix, Disney+, YouTube, and even the advertisements on social media platforms are subtly shaping their lives.
As societies become technologically advanced and people become more liberal in their thinking, moral and social values will change to reflect that on a cultural level.
It is thus increasingly important to be intentional about thinking and talking about family values. If parents do not take charge of raising their children using their playbooks, then the world will.
So how do you decide what family values are important to your family?
Every family’s list of values will be different. Some examples of family values include:
- moral values – honesty, dependability, taking personal responsibility, diligence, and justice.
- faith values – reverence for God, praying as a family, stewardship of resources, chastity, loving others, wisdom.
Family values are influenced by one’s upbringing, worldviews, religious beliefs, and cultural and societal circumstances. The process of designing a family mantra or family values can be different for every family.
Family values are like a compass. They outline what is important in your family and inform your decision-making process.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
1. Have an honest and open conversation with your spouse about what your family’s ideals are.
Ask questions to jump-start the discussion:
- What is important to me, to us, and the family?
- What kind of adults do we want our children to become?
- What values from our family-of-origin do we want to pass on to our children?
- How do we want our family to be remembered?
2. Talk to couples who are already consciously living out their family values and learn from them.
3. Find like-minded couple friends who are interested in charting their family values – start a group and do it together.
4. Get your children and teenagers involved in crafting your family values. Listen to their concerns, aspirations, and thoughts on what is important to them.
5. Print out and display your family values in strategic spots in the home as reminders.
Affirmation is an essential ingredient to building a young child’s confidence and encouraging them to learn and grow.
How do I instil family values to my children?
There are many ways to instil family values in your children. Be as creative as possible and find the methods that suit your children’s needs and learning styles.
Here are three ways you can consider:
- Talk about family values
“Train your child in the way he should go and when he is old, he shall not depart from it.” – a Jewish proverb
Whether you like it or not, your children already have many strong and effective teachers of values at an early age: social media, movies, schools, books, peer groups, and religious institutions.
While some of these may communicate positive and affirmative messages, others may teach values that are antithetical to your beliefs. Thus, it is important for us to assume the responsibility of teaching our children.
Consider these ideas:
- Share stories of everyday unsung heroes (teachers, neighbours, relatives, friends) who demonstrate your family values.
- Use movies or books to discuss values portrayed by the characters.
- Display family values on your screen savers on your computer.
- Have family activities or conversations on values
- Walk the talk
Values are more caught than taught. Model the behaviour for your children to live out the values you want them to internalise. Children and teenagers are perceptive. They observe what you do and draw conclusions about what is important to you in life.
- Provide positive reinforcement
When you notice your child demonstrating a family value, recognise them for it, and be as specific as possible.
- “I am so proud of you that you chose to take responsibility for what happened instead of blaming someone else for the mistake.”
- “Your kindness shone through when you donated your pocket money to help the poor.”
- “I appreciate your honesty and telling me the truth about what happened between you and your project group member even though you know you will be disciplined.”
Lyndon B. Johnson, a former president of the USA said it best, “The family is the cornerstone of our society. More than any other force it shapes the attitude, the hopes, the ambitious, and the values of the child.”
As parents, we play a pivotal role in shaping our children’s values. Make time as a couple and family to discuss and decide on the core family values that would serve as a moral compass to help them navigate life in good and tough times.
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