By Amanda Idleman, Crosswalk.com
Every leader of a home has the privilege of passing along to our children things that we believe matter most through the life that your family shares. These “family values” are what shape how you spend your time, speak to others, approach tasks, and also are shared ideals that grow to define you as a family unit.
Many of these values are things that we model for our home without thought and others are values that we explicitly teach to our kids.
For example, if achievement or success is important to us then we may push our kids to do better, run faster, and work harder than their peers. We may praise them highly for good grades, accolades, and other measurable signs of success in their lives.
In this scenario, as caretakers we may not recognize that we are communicating a family value to our kids with our words and actions but the things we praise and put emphasis on are the things our children believe matter most as they grow.
Most lessons for our kids are caught rather than taught. Which means how we live our lives makes the most powerful impression on what our children will believe is valuable.
Pausing to reflect on what we are modeling, living out, and teaching to our family members is so important!
Intentionality is required if we want to make sure we are communicating positive values to those who live under our roof. Taking time to discuss with your spouse or partner what you want your value system to look like is helpful to make sure you are on the same page and are living purposefully as parents or caretakers.
Let’s explore family values and how we can work to instill them in our homes.
Why Are Family Values So Important?
Family values have a huge impact on how we approach almost every part of our lives. As adults we draw on the lessons we learn in our homes as we grow up to help us navigate the relationships and responsibilities adulthood brings.
Growing up in a home that emphasized a positive value system such as honesty, trust, respect, and so on can give you a huge leg up when you enter adulthood.
Positive values are so important they set a foundation for your life. These values can protect and guide children as they make decisions. They can pull from these values to help them avoid missteps that have negative consequences for their lives.
Values are passed down from one generation to the next. What we teach our kids now in our homes will impact the lives and futures of our grandkids and beyond! Taking the time to teach our kids what it looks like to live a moral life has value for generations to come!
Family values give extra meaning to your family life! These shared ideas and worldviews are the bedrock of a bond that holds you close to your family members over a lifetime. While as you grow you may differ on opinions from your family members, the core beliefs and values are something you all will likely share for the duration of your life.
These values also will influence what you look for in a life partner. We relate best with those that share similar ideals and consequently end up choosing to build relationships that mesh well with your family's value system keeping the commonality in your family unit more intact over time.
All that to say that one of the best ways to ensure your children choose a partner you approve of is to put effort in instilling the values you hold dear into your children's hearts and minds.
How to Pick Family Values
None of us come into the role of raising children as blank slates. The values that were taught to use naturally are going to inform our parenting journeys.
If we grew up in a healthy and loving home this means passing on similar values to our own children will likely come more naturally. For those who grew up with more chaos and want to teach new lessons to our kids an extra level of effort and mindfulness will be required.
Thinking through the values we are seeking to instill in our homes and what that would practically look like is a great place to start. Write down the top five values you want to ensure you are modeling and teaching your kids.
Then think through ways your words and actions are either reinforcing those values or ways you can improve in communicating what really matters most to your kids.
Here is a list of “Family Values” that can get help your jumpstart your top five list:
Excellence Hard Work
Faith Pride in Your Achievements
Responsibility Financial Responsibility
Justice Taking Personal Responsibility
Restraint Family Memories
Integrity Emphasis on Time Spent Outdoors
How to Instill Family Values
There are so many ways we pass on our closely held values to our kids!
Almost every interaction's subtext is telling a story of what matters most to our children. There are some ways to make sure that we are explicitly communicating what matters most to our kids as well as ways to tweak our daily routines to include interactions that allow us more space to communicate healthy values to our kids.
One idea to help keep your family centered on the values you feel matter most is to create a family motto, mission, or even a family verse that your home can repeat and return to when you need grounding.
You could recite this regularly together, post it up on your wall, or just talk through the list of the things you consider your most important values regularly. Don’t be afraid to make changes to your mission/value list as time goes on.
Perspectives, needs, and the focus of your home evolve over time and your family's mission statement can be a fluid document.
Create routines and rhythms that allow space for you to talk about what you value in your home. If you value prayer or faith then your routine should include regular prayer and engagement with a faith community.
Your kids expect you to practice what you preach. If you want these values to be a part of what molds who they become then your life with them must reflect the values you hope to pass on.
If you value honesty and communication then you need to carve out quiet moments in your schedule in which your kids would feel you are available to speak honestly and openly with. If kindness is important then you need to encourage your child to use kind language with friends and model that same kindness when you interact with the world.
Once you identify what values matter most then you can begin to think through your days and strategically make space for you to model and discuss what living out these values should look like.
You must also consider if the community your family spends the most time with also reflects the values you wish to pass along. Of course, not everyone you interact with will share the exact same list of priorities but those who have the most influence in your home should be supportive of the values you hold dear.
It truly takes a village and it’s important your village is not continuously sending contrary messages to your children on a regular basis.
No matter what your family unit looks like thinking through the messages you are sending to the others in your home and we should pay particular attention to the ways our words and actions are shaping the children that we are in charge of.
Promoting positive values is so essential to growing up young people of character!
If you have bigger kids in your home taking a moment to ask them what they think your home's family values are is a great way to check-in and see what you are passing along to your kids.
My family did this the other night at the dinner table and they came up with a long list of responses that ranged from saying we thought it was important to take care of the things we own, that we valued our faith, that our friends and family mattered, showing love to others was important, and even that healthy habits were important in our home too.
Our kids are young but they already have a pretty clear picture in their minds of what it is we believe matters most. Hearing what they had to say really helped my husband and I better see what we are passing on to our kids and allowed us to talk openly about what it is that we want to be our home's family values.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/McIninch
Amanda Idleman is a writer whose passion is to encourage others to live joyfully. She writes devotions for My Daily Bible Verse Devotional and Podcast, Crosswalk Couples Devotional, the Daily Devotional App, she has work published with Her View from Home, on the MOPS Blog, and is a regular contributor for Crosswalk.com. You can find out more about Amanda on her Facebook Page or follow her on Instagram.