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Parenting Press: Identifying Values You Hold Dear

Tip–In order to instill your values in your children, you must first be aware of what those values are.

There is a lot of talk in our society about the general lack of values in our culture.

“Values–everybody is talking about nobody having any,” says Harriet Heath, Ph.D., author of Using Your Values to Raise Your Child to Be an Adult You Admire. “But I have found all parents do have values. Some may have thought about them, but few have considered them when dealing with everyday guidance situations.”

Identifying your values takes some insightful thinking, but it is well worth the time. Values are a useful guide to living and provide a powerful means of influencing children. Parents who are not aware of their own values tend to miss opportunities to teach them or be inconsistent in their teaching.

Tools–There are four useful ways to identify your values. Dr. Heath recommends using any of the following methods.

  •  List them. Just get out a pencil and paper and write them down.
  • Use a list of attributes to identify your values. On page 21 of Using Your Values there is an extensive list of possible attributes. Use this list (or another like it) to circle the qualities you would like your child to have 10-30 years from now. Then narrow that list to the top ten qualities you value most.
  • Think in terms of behavior, “I want my child to be/do . . .” For example, someone who greets his or her spouse with a hug and kiss can be described as affectionate. Being affectionate is a value. Page 24 in Using Your Values offers 90 different examples of behaviors that demonstrate specific values.
  • Think through and write about what is important to you. Write a paragraph about what is important to you in your life and what you hope for in the lives of your children. When you are finished, go back over the paragraph and underline the qualities you’ve identified and make a list of them. These are your values.

You’ll find more practical tips you can use right now in Using Your Values to Raise Your Child to Be an Adult You Admire by Harriet Heath, Ph.D.

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