Family values relate to everything that is meaningful and important to you and your family. They embody the ideas of what type of life you want to live together. They are the fundamental principles that serve as a guide for all actions made by family members. As you embark on the parenting and homeschooling journey you will rely on these values to give you a sense of meaning, purpose, and the ability to achieve goals.
Often your family values are ones that have been adopted by generations past, but they should evolve with time, experience, and environment. They should be developed and revisited from time to time. I would suggest at least every year or two. Most importantly, your children need to be active participants in the development of the list.
And while you may have family values that are shared, remember that your children are their own sentient beings and will develop separate values in time. Understanding that other people (including your children) may have different values from your own can help you better understand that other person. This as a result can create a more compassionate and harmonious relationship.
Values are important because they:
- Serve as a guide for the decisions that we make day to day – may be referred to as the guiding principles or life goals.
- Inform thoughts, words, and actions in different situations
- Strengthen the relationships between family members by clarifying what is important to the family as a whole and also what is important to each member individually.
- Help avoid misunderstandings, unnecessary aggravation and distrust.
- Serve as the heart of the climate and culture of your home.
To get started on how to develop family values you may find it helpful to be aware of the different categories of values. Let’s take a look at those categories now:
Social Values – peace, justice, freedom, equality, acceptance, unifying and empowering the community
- Being kind to others
- Standing up for those who cannot stand up for themselves
- Giving up your time to volunteer in the community
- Cooperating and collaborating with others
Work Values – philosophies about your job, finances, and how you spend your money, how you approach learning, schooling, and education.
- Always do your best
- Collaborative approach
- Save portions of your salary
- Life long learning, open mindedness, and growth mindset
- Finding pride in accomplishments of self and others
- Expressing oneself creatively and authentically
- Being aware of the role that your work/career plays in the larger community and society
Moral Values – an important responsibility of parenting is that you can help show your children how to act morally. They need to know how to treat others with respect, dignity, kindness, goodness, and equality. They need to know about good, care about the good, and practice doing the good in the world. These values center around what you think is right or wrong. These provide the foundation from which you make decisions. They are often learned from previous generations and from experiences.
- Self acceptance and acceptance of others- welcoming others whose ideas and practices differ from your own
- Compassion and understanding the suffering of others or self with a desire to take action to help and repair
- Cooperation which includes helping your family and friends, giving and returning favors
- Courage and willingness to do difficult things
- Equality and believing that every human deserves equal rights and to be treated with respect
- Fairness which is to act in a just way and sharing appropriately
- Generosity with a willingness to give resources, help, and time to others
Recreational Values refer to those things in life that involve relaxation and play. These values are just as important if not more important than the others because they promote a close, connected relationship in the family. They provide opportunities for learning, creating memories, improving social skills and developing empathy. Examples of recreational values include:
- Providing time and space for unstructured play
- Placing value on and encouraging family members to pursue interests
- Vacation time together
- Quality time together
How to Make Your Family’s List and Keep Them Alive
Creating a list of your family’s values may seem daunting or overwhelming at first. But, you sit down and reflect on these categories and the role they play in your life you will find that identifying your family values is much easier than initially thought.
It is imperative to sit as a family and give each member a chance to speak about what is important to them. Getting input from everyone, listening and attending to their needs is essential. This will create a sense of shared responsibility in which you and your children will gain a sense of autonomy and internalize these values more easily.
Do not, however, expect this to come together all at once. Most likely it will take some time, maybe 2-3 conversations or more before you and your family feel like you have developed a comprehensive list.
Please read through the following tips to help you develop family values that are meaningful, relevant, and powerful
- Talk about what is most important to your family. What are your strengths? What gives you guidance when you run into disagreements?
- Identify a short list of words or phrases that best describe your family?
- Brainstorm a list and write down your thoughts, stories, ideas, words, phrases. Use a whiteboard or large poster size paper to write down anything that is discussed.
- Provide each family member with a small whiteboard or paper and pencil. Have them free write or draw pictures of what is important to them
- Give ample time to think and discuss. Take some time alone and time together to talk.
- Aim to agree upon 10-12 values. Of course you can have more or less, but many more may prove to be too overwhelming or confusing.
- Display your list in a common area of the house where everyone can see it each day.
- Refer back to the list from time to time and especially after your family goes through a particularly difficult moment or day.
- Use the list as a teaching tool.
- Revisit and rewrite the list as needed. The list will evolve over time as your family changes.
In review here is your step-by-step guide to creating a family values list at home:
- Take time to think
- Revisit list
- Reconvene and agree upon a family list
- Write the final list down
- Place the list in a common area of the house where it can be easily viewed each day
In the end, family and personal values are a must. They will guide your decision making processes throughout the parenting and homeschooling journey and serve as a way to create more harmonious and fulfilling experiences. In the end, remember that these values should help you and your children create your best life! A life that is meaningful, fulfilling, and honors your true, authentic self! Enjoy the ride!
If you would like additional help in identifying what your values are please visit The Values Project and complete this value survey.