The beginning of every school brings excitement and anticipation. This year we add uncertainty and, perhaps, some concern as kids return to school.
What will the new school year bring for your family? What new things will happen? What goals will be met? What progress will be made?
Why not sit down as a family and establish some core values to focus on in the 20-21 school year? If you take the time to think through it and agree upon it as a family, those core values could become an important part of your family culture for many years.
Why are Your Family Core Values Important?
Whether you teach your child values or not, they will learn them. Either from you, from the media, from teammates or from other adults (like coaches) in their life. And the absence of value teaching is still teaching a value–that anything goes when it comes to values.
What is going to be the voice in your child’s head when you are not around?
What is going to be a compass that guides their decisions and choices in the future?
The most rewarding thing for a parent to feel is that their child is trustworthy and has morals and standards when they get out on their own.
My kids are 27, 30, and 32. I totally trust their values. If they make a decision I may not agree with, I still know that their heart is in the right place and that I can trust that they are doing what is best for them.
But my trust in them is only there because I know the foundation that was laid in their hearts and minds. We were not just interested in the behavior of our kids, we were interested in their hearts.
That’s why core values are so important. They will guide your child’s heart, and thus, their behavior. Whether they can articulate those core values when they get older is not as important as the fact that they are living those core values.
Where do You Start?
You can approach this two ways: As parents or as a family.
As parents, you can sit down and start by making a word list of the top 5-10 things that are most important to you as a family.
For instance, I will share mine:
Family. Faith. Serving. Communication. Honesty. Respect.
Once you have made your list, it’s time to expand on them with a brief explanation of what you will do to focus on that value.
Here’s how ours fleshed out:
For example, for Family: We will seek opportunities to strengthen our extended and immediate family bonds.
As parents, you can work on this and then share them with the family, or if you’d rather, you can work on this as a family. Call a family meeting and get everyone to discuss what’s important in your home. No doubt it will spark some good conversations.
How do We Maintain Them?
Once you’ve established the core values, the work of implementation and application begins.
Here are a few ideas:
• Have a sign made with the core values and hang it in your home.
• Post them on the fridge.
• Look for opportunities to bring these core values into conversations with your kids, when they are making choices, filling their calendars, and even when they are being disciplined.
• Post them on your calendars and use them to help guide your scheduling and filter what you say yes and no to.
The most important thing to remember about core values is that they must be lived out by you and you in turn, must look for every opportunity to weave them into the behaviors and conversations in your family.
Janis Meredith is a family life coach who wants to help all parents raise champions. You can find out more at rcfamilies.com.