Recently, I posted Pope Francis's view on parents teaching values to children. It has been a while since I wrote on this topic so here are my thoughts.
Teaching values is one of the most important aspects of parenting. What is really important to consider first is the fact most adults have been living by values so long it is ingrained. Therefore, adults often need to step back and think about what their values actually are. In essence values are defined as those attributes of character which stand on their own. In other words character traits with their own definition like: honesty, integrity, perseverance, and respect. One of my favorite challenges is asking adults to name ten values they live by in their lives. Most people can name between five and seven then can get stumped. This is because we generally hold and live those our parents lived out for us. Does this mean they are unimportant? Of course not, but it does mean if we want our children to live out those we have trouble remembering we have to work harder to live them.
There are many ways we teach children our values. Values are usually caught, through children observing and living the way their parents do. However, values can also be taught through family time. Reading and discussing books which uphold important values is a good way to reinforce them. Especially for those of you who have tweens/teens. I love the Chronicles of Narnia by C..S. Lewis, for this kind of exercise. The children in the books come across all kinds of issues that shape their values. This seven book series can take your whole family through tales of adventure which will help take you and your children through an ever deeper enrichment of your values.
Teachable moments are also a way to reinforce values. Throughout your interactions with your family, friends, play dates, and other people and life happenings are times when you will come across times when talking about values. Including what happened and how it impacts what you believe and how we react and respond. One such example is the riots in Baltimore. This was a good time for parents to sit down and reinforce the value of nonviolence and respect for others. I challenge you to look for situations where you can reinforce your values.
Decision-making is a great way to teach values. Adults do not always explain why we make the choices we make. However, this can be the very best time to help children understand the true importance of values and personal responsibility. Talk with your children about appropriate dilemmas
you are facing discuss what you are thinking about and why. Once you have resolved the issue go back and talk about how you resolved the issue and why you chose the option you did. Sharing these things in your life gives children real life examples and let's them know in a tangible way that problems and issues can be shared with those who love and support us. It is important to be supportive and use active listening when they come to share. Link to active listening article.
Overall, teaching values is about being a role model who shares thoughts,. Parents foster values teaching by living, talking about, listening to, and participating in everyday living with their children.
Giving advice, support, and empowering children to learn to make decisions on their own is an important part of the process. You can do it!
Believe in Parenting