Someone asked me what the biggest cause of family problems is. I replied, LACK OF FAMILY VALUES. It’s not that people don’t know what is important, but those things are not important enough to drive their decisions and actions. Each family needs a set of life principles that guide and motivate their actions and those they influence.
How can we use values to add purpose to our lives and drive us and our children toward the greatest opportunity for fulfillment?
Is your marriage driven by values? Values start with marriage, the most important relationship in our lives. This is the foundation of the family.
How about your parenting style? Is it driven by values? Once the marriage value is set, it’s far easier to set parenting values.
I’m not going to say what each value should be…that’s your job. I will say that it must be a driving value. For example, it’s far easier to insist on honesty in your children if honesty is a value in your family that’s important enough to drive behaviour. So dishonesty would never be tolerated or rewarded.
True values drive behaviour. Don’t set a value that you are not willing to consistently practice. Once your values are set and consistently practiced, there will be little need for bickering and negotiation between parent and child.
Some ideas of values you might want to adopt to drive your family in addition to honesty are respect for others, respect for self, personal responsibility, productivity, protection of family members, mercy, education, etc.
Once you’ve set the values you want for your family, define those values so everyone understands them. Consider ways to explain your driving values and to reward and punish behaviour using the values. Some people post their driving values and definitions on the wall so they can use them to teach the kids, reinforcing the right behaviour and reason for the behaviour all at once. At the right age, you can start asking the kids to tell you what value applies to a given situation…even what your answer to their request should be based on the values. If you spend serious hours thinking through and developing your driving values, they will begin to drive the family so you don’t have to.
A values driven family is all about setting examples. “Do what I’m doing and you’ll be fine.” This is the signal your every action sends your children. Values driven parents live by the values they set for their children, because they value their children enough to avoid confusing them by doing one thing and saying another.
Quotes on Family Values:
”To nourish children and raise them against odds is in any time, any place, more valuable than to fix bolts in cars or design nuclear weapons”. – Marilyn French
“Home is the place where boys and girls first learn how to limit their wishes, abide by rules, and consider the rights and needs of others”.- Sidonie Gruenberg
“Govern a family as you would cook a small fish – very gently” – Chinese Proverb