Tina Atchley

Family Values

I bet you have seen one in a friend’s home.  Or maybe read about it in one of those Parenting or Better Homes & Gardens lying around at the pediatrician’s office.  I’m not sure where I came across the general concept several years ago, but it’s a great idea and a great way to get the family on the same page.  Family values are a list of concepts that your family holds dear and that you want to be a foundation for raising your kids.  You can list as many or few as you like, but try to keep it reasonable, because these are guidelines you want your family to live by.

It is crucial to gain the buy-in of every family member, so everyone needs to be involved in the brainstorming.  Our family took a few hours on a quiet Saturday afternoon, sat outside on the patio, dragged out the kids poster paper, art easel and markers and got to work.  We took turns stating words or concepts that we wanted our family to make a priority.  We let the kids write them all down-they think it’s fun and become more engaged-and everybody, even our 4 year old, contributed.  They wrote all over the paper and we had a jumbled, messy list of about 40 words and phrases.  We spent maybe an hour and a half. The next weekend we worked on whittling the list, getting rid of redundant concepts, rephrasing using clever catchwords and really honing in on what we wanted for ourselves.

I typed up the final list and we went over it one night at dinner.  Then off to Etsy I went and found someone (there are lots of people doing it-just type in family values) to create a fancy design of our values.  You can choose colors, fonts, print mediums and it was cheap and quick.  I printed our final version on Kinko’s poster board and have two hanging around the house.  They look great and we always get compliments. 

Now for the best part.  Instead of parenting with the usual, “we don’t do that” or “quit fighting”, I simply say whatever family value is applicable and leave it at that.  My message gets through to the kids better and all with less hassle on my part and less resistance on theirs.  Double win!

We ended up with 13 and every now again during dinner we have a competition between the kids and daddy on naming all of our values.  Guess who usually can’t remember them all?

Here are a couple of our family values:

  • Respect
  • Gratitude
  • You get what you think
  • Live in the now
  • Be loose (this means try not to take yourself to seriously and go with the flow of life)
  • Green is good (This means get outside and be active in nature and eat daily and plentifully from nature’s abundant green vegetables)

You can find many examples and ideas on the internet.  Have fun with it and in the end you will create a simple, liveable, doable  guide for your family.