When a child is born, he becomes part of a family first before being a part of society. And when a person lives in society, harmonious living with others becomes important. There are certain rules and laws in a society that needs to be in place, which determines the kind of actions and behavior that are acceptable and must be encouraged. It also defines the things that are not right and must be discouraged.
To learn that acceptable behavior, a child must be taught by its family through traditional family values. Family values define the social, moral, and ethical behavior imparted in a family through words, actions, and behavior. Family values can also mean what’s essential to a family, like the beliefs, ideas, cultures, and traditions that bind a family together.
No child is born with an innate set of values. By default, humans are selfish, so families must teach children values. The family values passed down to the next generation helps everyone be clear about the things we care about and what things we teach our children and grandchildren to care about. And the more established your family values are, the better they can uphold them along with the many types of good values they can learn from their friends, teachers, co-workers, and society in general.
Common Family Values
In every country and every culture, family values may differ. Even a specific country has a diverse mix of people with different ideals and values. But generally, these are the things valued by families around the world:
1. Moral values
No matter what your definition of a family is, having common family values provides a moral compass for everybody. Moral values are defined as the core personal ethics that drives how a family and its members make their way in society, knowing what’s right and what’s wrong. Though the differences in culture bring the difference in teaching values, here are some high values that are primal to any culture.
- Love and respect
- Empathy and sensitivity
- Honesty and trust
- Hard work
2. Personal conduct
A lot of times, the moral values mentioned above guides the way we treat others. As part of parenting, a parent wants their child to be good by default. No one in their right mind would want to raise a lawbreaker or a person who’s hard to get along with. And defining the right behaviors and leading by example can go a long way to making sure that the values you teach will become natural in your children.
Shaping good personal conduct and social behavior can help shape what it means to be a good student, a good child, a good husband, a good wife, a good sibling, and a good parent.
3. Educational values
Having a good education can help ensure a more stable and enjoyable life in the future. With education comes the value of curiosity and ambition. Families who value education develop children who want to learn more about the world. They also strive to receive the level of knowledge needed to achieve the goals they set for themselves.
To instill this value, you can read to them while they are young, and invest heavily in books. Train them to be readers while they are young.
4. Family work ethic
Many families consider having a strong work ethic as an important value. The work ethic shared by the family can shape everything from the way a child views his education and schoolwork to the way the adults approach their careers and finances. Having an achievement is a crucial element to this family value, and many families define achievement through their work – in school or in their jobs.
5. Religious or spiritual values
Depending on the family, this may be a major, minor, or inexistent value. Some of the strongest and most tightly-knit families share a spiritual belief in something greater than themselves. These families find spirituality to be a significant source of their individual and family strength. The beliefs vary widely, depending on the family, but those in the same faith or denomination tend to share common moral values.
Religious and spiritual values influence other values like social behavior, personal development, and views of morality. For instance, devoted Christian families may follow specific guidelines for dating that’s consistent with their faith. Parents may not allow their teenage children to spend the night with the opposite sex, and they may have stronger beliefs about purity.
Also, belief in a higher power and practice of spirituality can provide the family with a sense of unity and direction. It guides them on how to care for others, how to do their roles as a family member, and how to approach marriage, parenting, work, school, and many more. Since most faith traditions also emphasize prayer, meditation, service, and fellowship, these may all be values that family practices if religious and spiritual values are high on their priorities.
6. Financial values
Every family has a unique way of looking at finances and how they handle it. Most places a high priority on using financial resources so they can live out their economic values. This includes setting up careful guidelines on how much money to spend, how much must be saved, and how much must be used for giving. Also, some families also set rules and guidelines on how they want to spend their money.
Teaching financial values to children gives them financial literacy so that they can avoid big money mistakes once they are earning on their own. For instance, parents can teach their children that they are not going to buy anything they want as early on, so they can learn the value of money and working hard to get what they want. Having a strong financial value can dictate how well the family will be in terms of economic success, and how the children can be successful in handling their finances as well in the future.
7. Family time
Families differ in how they prioritize family time. It’s a time of bonding – no work, no homework – where the family gathers together to spend time in each other’s company. Valuing family time is key to a stronger, more united, and a happier family. But it can be hard to maintain, especially as children get older.
Family time may look different for each family. For some, it’s having a family vacation together, or eating out at a restaurant together, or having game nights at the arcade, or simply watching movies together at home. Many families also insist on having at least one meal together as a family each day. Doing activities together creates a powerful bond and lasting memories for one another, which helps strengthen the family bond. Families who do not prioritize family time develop members that are aloof and distant towards each other.
8. Family traditions
For many families, traditions are observed. Some have their traditions that are passed down for generations. Traditions mean participating in the same activities, rituals, and observances regularly, and it’s a powerful way to keep your family’s bond strong. Perhaps it’s holding a Christmas party for the extended family every year, or cooking burgers for the neighborhood every Halloween, or drinking beer together during the Super Bowl, or going to the beach every summer.
This is what’s fun about family life – you can get to enjoy each other and build memories that you will cherish for a lifetime.
9. Health and fitness
Health and fitness is one value that differs greatly for many families. For some, proper diet and exercise are of utmost importance. These are the families that are more conscious about their food choices, like preferring healthy home-cooked meals than fast food takeouts, and may have invested in gym equipment for the home. Meanwhile, other families don’t share this value and may be fine with a large stock of junk foods, and regular pizza and soda nights.
Families that value health and fitness may have new rituals and activities shared, like cooking healthy dinners together, doing bike rides in the neighborhood, hitting the gym together, or going on family hikes. This will allow the family to teach children and their young adults to take care of themselves while they’re young and avoid health complications later in life. While doing this, they also make valuable memories together.
This is how the family has fun together. Entertainment values may seem trivial, but it’s crucial as it constitutes family life, especially the memories you make together. Are you a family who plays board games or prefer video games? Is it a tradition for you to watch the latest superhero movie in theaters as a family? Do you regularly go watch ballet or piano recitals, or go to the theater? Does your family play sports or play music together? Establishing a way of entertainment goes a long way towards building a fun relationship with your family.
Tips for Setting up Family Values
Ideally, family values must be set by a couple as they are starting their family together. This way, as their family grows, they will be implementing it to their children. But as for families who have not set family values beforehand, or for mixed families or families of single parents, it’s never too late to state and create your own values. Here are the ways to do it:
1. Decide what values matter to you
Parents must decide the values they want their family to have. Determine what you want and what values you want your children to acquire. If the parents don’t do this, their children will adapt and learn the values of others, and it may be hard to correct in the future.
2. Teach values to your children young
Children must be taught values when they are young before they turn age 8, whatever principles that a person values at that age will quickly become a habit and drive his behavior, which may bring peace or sorrow.
3. Have every family member write down what values matter to them
If you want to start having family values with your older kids, or if you remarried and had stepchildren, gather them and have them write down the values that matter to them. Let them explain by asking them to write at least one sentence why. Examples of values that they may write include church, God, mutual respect, honesty, trust, privacy, family time, etc.
4. Write your “Family constitution” that includes what matters to you and which values are non-negotiable
It’s not enough that you have discussed it and have it in your head. To best implement, these values, post them on the wall, or make a file, and teach it to your children. Once it’s written, it carries more power than an idea. Place it in an area where you all will see it often. Once it’s personal and it’s on paper, it will have a more significant impact on you and your children in guiding them on every decision you all make. It will also serve as a constant reminder to you, so you can easily teach and live these values as an example.