What are your values and how do you teach them to your kids?
The Oxford Dictionary defines values as principles or standards of behavior; one's judgment of what is important in life.
What is important in your life?
As we have gone through life, we’ve developed some principles that have guided us, standards that have helped govern the decisions we have made.
Did we always do it right? No. But we were usually able to get back on track with the values we had established, and to apologize for the missteps we made.
These values came from our upbringing, the beliefs of our parents, and others, our experience, and the lessons we learned from education, religion, and observation. In order to have some success, we had to reflect on what was important and how to respond to the challenges life presents.
So what, you may ask, are our values? Here are some we’ve developed for ourselves: do the right thing, be kind, tell the truth, make life better for someone else, honor our partners and our children, and do our best.
Think of what has been rewarding to you, what traits you admired in your parent, guardian, or adult mentor, the values you’ve seen in other adults that impressed you.
The importance of values and finding yours
We know a person’s values by how he acts, what she stands for, and how he responds in times of challenge. If you’re in tune with your values, things work better.
Many people struggle in the face of limited or negative values. They didn’t have the models they needed to create a set of standards important to successfully dealing with life. You can be that model for your child.
We encounter all sorts of challenges that present us with choices about what to do, how to act, what direction to move in. Values help guide us. They help teens establish their identity. They are like a roadmap to our lives. Dr. Russ Harris, author of The Happiness Trap, has some important things to say about the development of values.
The challenges and your role
Our kids face many questions and influences, but you remain a principal guide for the development of values. What you say and how you act have a profound impact.
Talk with you teen about issues that impact his or her life. Have a conversation about behavior, relationships, responsibility, serving others. Good parenting is practice not perfection. You don’t have to do everything right. You just have to try to be honest, consistent, and loving.
In helping your teen you want to:
▪ be a good role model
▪ create a safe environment
▪ listen attentively
▪ encourage their communication
▪ allow them make their own choices
▪ let them make mistakes.
You want your teens to create those values that make sense for them, beliefs that will help them navigate the road of life. They probably won’t be the same as yours, but they will be influenced by you.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has some good resources to help.
Tom Tozer and Bill Black are authors of Dads2Dads: Tools for Raising Teenagers. Like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter at Dads2Dadsllc. Contact them at tomandbill@Dads2Dadsllc.com.