Develop a Set of Family Values
Your children will be faced with many morally difficult decisions in life. We all had those growing up and they were a key to our development. As adults, we still face the same decisions with business, finances and personal relationships. How do you make difficult decisions? Do you have a set of values to help you make those decisions? If the answer is “no”, you’re selling yourself short. You have values, you just don’t have them firmly established. It’s time to take the next step and establish your family values.
Your family values are a moral compass for your entire family. It is a list of values that define how you and your family want to live life. They make decisions for you without a second thought. When faced with a tough decision, you can fall back on your family values and know you made the right decision. When no one is looking and you can do the wrong thing, your family values will support you in making the right decision.
Developing Family Values
The best way to start developing family values is to write down a set of words that describe the ideal you. When you think about who you want to be, there are some words that may stand out. Honesty, integrity, open communication, commitment, understanding, faith are all words I use when I think of my ideal self.
To start out, you can simply make a list of these words, or you can go through some detail and explain what they mean to you. From here, you can begin to apply these themes to the key areas of life. Go through personal, education, work ethic, spiritual, financial and health. For my family, I want the following for each:
Personal/Faith: Follow Christ’s teachings and the 10 Commandments. We’re a Christian family, so this makes sense. If you follow another religion or practice then you should make this a top value. While very broad, it gives a clear direction to take with people.
Health: Treat your body well and fuel it with healthy meals. Be smart about the foods that you are putting into your body and take care of your fitness and personal appearance.
Financial: Always be smart with your money and value what you have. Be grateful for the abundance that you have and never take it for granted.
Education: Put your education first and make sure you are always improving. Knowledge is the key to success.
The most important action item is to start the process. Our values will develop over time, so get them down in writing and revisit them yearly. Make changes and additions as needed. Keep it as streamline as possible, but don’t limit your values.
Using You Family Values as a Tool
After establishing your family values, make sure everyone understands them. In our household, we reviewed our values and I printed them out for each individual. I also framed copies and mounted the pictures in each bedroom and main gathering area in the house. They are always there to help us make decisions.
With the kids, use the family values as a teaching tool. When they are making a decision, ask which family value effects the decision. When they’ve made the wrong decisions, ask which family value did they break. When they can answer quickly and clearly, you know they’re beginning to understand.
That understanding comes in great use as your kids get older. They will have encounters through life with others who do not carry the same values as they do. You can’t be there to steer them in the right direction, but your family values will always be with them. Your family values will make the decision for them.
Used properly, a set of family values will be the most important tool you ever use in life. You’ll never have a sleepless night due to stress over a decision. You’re choices have already been made. All you have to do is apply your family values.
Hopefully this post provides a powerful tool for your use. Please pass it along to others and help spread family values.