Family Values: Finding Your ‘Why’ Together

Family values. We all have them, even if we can’t articulate them.

Assuming that we do have family values, what exactly are we doing with them? Family values don’t count for much if we don’t use them to direct our daily decisions, instill them in our children and hold them up as a guidepost when we come to a fork in the road.  

In order for family values to be effective, they must accurately reflect what is truly important to our family.  Trying to uphold something that really doesn’t matter to us is hard and not very satisfying.

Once you have determined what truly matters to your family, those things that you are willing to take a stand for, it’s time to talk through them and put the “why” to each value.  

Now you have decided what your values are and why each is significant, put your values in writing.  You can determine what language best fits your family. A family value to be generous could be as simple as “Give generously” or more specific “Make regular donations to charitable causes for children.” As you work on the wording, refer back to your “why” to be sure you are getting to the real purpose you hope to achieve. Make sure that your language is appropriate for the ages of your children. It may be necessary to begin with just two or three values, written very simply if your children are young. As they get older, you can add additional values and be more specific with the phrasing.

Once you have wording that feels comfortable, print and post your values in a prominent place. Ideally you will refer to these as reminders of why behaviors are not acceptable or why decisions are made.  

This all seems simple enough, and it should, because this is really just the beginning.  Now that you have established your family values, it’s time to live into them. As you make decisions, consider how these choices fit with your values. Talk through your thought process with your kiddos. This allows them to begin to take ownership of these values as well. When a family member doesn’t live into the values, you can have a discussion that brings your “why” back into focus.

If you claim that serving those in need is an important value to your family, take time to decide what that looks like.  How and when will you serve? Make a plan, put it on the calendar and get the supplies you need so that you are ready to go.

Easy peasy, right?  Not so fast – we all have schedules filled to the brim and constant influences from every direction.  The real challenge comes as we try to hold fast to our values and live into them each and every day.

You can do it.  And I assure you, it’s worth it.    

Hi! I’m Denise; wife to Doug for 36 years, mom to Kate who lives in DC and works at NASA, Caroline who became our angel at four months old and Ryan who is a junior at KState majoring in Mechanical Engineering and Physics and two fantastic felines, Walter and Arthur. I love to take pictures, cook and bake, watch sports, dabble in most any type of crafting and hang out with my family. Mostly out of necessity, I have become fascinated with social media and have a false sense of pride that I am better at it than most people my age. I have a constantly changing bucket list, mostly revolving around things I can do with friends or family and that doesn’t require me to address my solid fear of heights!