Leadership in Parenting: Instilling Values
Values are the principles, behaviors or standards you aspire to, that call you to a higher standard and provide stability and direction in a fluid and chaotic world. They are so foundational that you won’t compromise on them. And if you do, it feels as if you are denying a part of yourself.
If you compromise on your values, it feels as if you are denying a part of yourself.
We chose the values of Truth, Faith, Stewardship, Growth, Influence and Love for our family. I framed them and hung them on the wall by our front door. Anyone who walks in will know what we’re about. But, more importantly, as we walk out they remind us about how we are called to live our lives out in the world.
Values can be powerful if they are genuine. It’s sort of in vogue for companies to promote a set of values, whether or not they’re real (remember Enron‘s famously stated values of Integrity, Communication, Respect and Excellence?). It’s easy to put words on a poster and call them values. But be careful: Values that are promoted but not followed will never be adopted by others. Values enforced but not lived out will be rejected.
“And Your Point Is…?”
You can’t make your kids live according to your values. But you can instill your values in such a way that your children adopt them as their own.
Values that are promoted but not followed will never be adopted by others. Values enforced but not lived out will be rejected.
The first step is to identify your values. Values should inspire and challenge you toward positive, healthy behaviors and toward things outside your self-interests. Look for the “why” behind your decisions or behaviors. Keep asking “why,” and when your answer is either 1) “just because” or 2) is a story of a profound experience, there’s a good chance you’ve found a value.
The second step is to refine them. Some will fall off and others will merge together. Try to settle on 3-7 values.
Then comes the real challenge: Living them out. Prepare to fail from time-to-time; when you do, it’s not the end of the world. If they were easy to achieve, they wouldn’t be values. Trust them to help you make tough decisions.
If they were easy to achieve, they wouldn’t be values.
The Big Picture
There’s a good chance your kids will adopt some or all of your values (though it may take them many years). Because you model them consistently (see the previous post), they will know they’re important and real.
Your Next Step
How do you know if you’re living according to your values?