Family Values Tree 101: A Roadmap To Having Powerful Discussions With Children.

family values
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family values 101 - create your list

How do your beliefs fit into your daily structure, the decisions you make, how you perform at work, at home and especially how you behave when no one is looking?  If you have children, how are your beliefs passed down, instilled, demonstrated, or taught?  Whether you have a concrete belief systems or not, all of the above are ignited by beliefs.  So, what are your core value or beliefs?  This is all about family values 101.  How can you parent effectively using authentic family values to having powerful discussions with children.

It’s possible you may not have a concrete set of values or beliefs.  You may even think you don’t operate from a belief system, but you do.  Activity 1: Right now, grab a piece of paper and something to write with and jot down some values.  Values can either be traditions or even cultural based.  For example, kindness and growth are two of my personal values.  Don’t rush this part and take your time.  After all, when you are done, this will be a list of how you want to live your life.  A list that when all else fails, can provide a basic structure to operate from, a compass to help navigate and manage crisis, but more importantly, provide hope.

family values 101 - brush a family portrait

Understanding your personal values will help shape your family values.  Sitting down with your family and performing the above activity together is an easy first step.  This may include sitting down with any adult caretaker for your child, too.  While this may seem awkward especially with an adult which you aren’t familiar with such as a new babysitter, it’s an important process.  Remember, family values help caretakers reinforce your values when you are not around but also help with crisis management.  There is so much literature supporting family values on the  internet, here is just one website that discusses how to create a family value list,

Family values 101 are important because they are passed from one generation to another.  Deliberately or not, your individual or family actions will be passed on to your children.  Being purposeful will help to ensure newborns and infants to experience and assimilate solid basic principles.  Infants are similiar to a  blank canvas that reflect back at you, either in the moment or later in life your family values.  Activity 2, Grab a blank sheet of paper and pen and sketch your family living out some of the values you listed in activity 1.  Make this a family activity and have all members and all caretakers do the same.  Combine all the finished artwork into one large collage and hang it in a visible area for all to see, including visitors as a way to know how to behave in your home. 

the "root" cause

There are many categories family values can belong to such as professional values, cultural values, traditional values, and spiritual values.  Once again, there is no set number or correct type of category.  Families have creative license to do as they see fit.  Take some time to review the website  Dr. Zitzman does a nice job talking about family values and its importance. 

Now for the hard part, narrow your list down to two core values.  While there are not set rules to the number of values you or your family can have, I have found it helpful to narrow my original list of 15 to 2.  This was no easy task.  What’s the purpose you ask?  For starters, it’s easier for me to recall 2 values than all 15.  More importantly, I have found over time, that the two that I eventually did end up with were ones I now call my “root” core values from which all other values stem from.  Quick retrieval was also another benefit in a time of crisis.  The mental challenge of using 2 values versus 15 is a lot easier and quicker.  My two “root” core values are growth and kindness.  These two values have helped me to navigate through times of uncertainty and hope.

family values
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the roadmap

I have recently been encouraging my co-workers to develop roadmaps as a means to an end.  Whether its a roadmap to a publication or the construction of a bookcase, a roadmap helps to visualize the end and in many cases, keeps hope alive for some roadmaps may take years to travel.  Parenting is lifelong and many times challenging.  There have been many occasions when I have veered off the road down unpaved path.  These were times that I needed to visualize my roadmap to steer back onto the main road. 

Let’s be clear, family value conversations do not substitute for consequences but do provide a basis for meaningful conversations that reinforces your family values. And if teens continue to do what they do best, they will offer plenty of opportunities for parents to reinforce family values 101.

The next time you find yourself in argument with your teen, spouse, or neighbor take a minute and reflect on what words you are using.  Your position should be from the lens of your family value and perhaps not so much about the behavior leading to the arguments.  Visualize your roadmap and allow your values to be your GPS.  In many cases, a roadmap is your family value tree.  

The purpose of my blog articles is to provide examples of how I was able to incorporate our family values tree as a roadmap to have powerful discussions with my children.  You can do the same.  Click HERE to start and sign up and receive a free family value tree roadmap. 


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