One of the secrets to being happy is living as close to your own values as you can. I wonder if this is also the secret to a happy family.
We all value different things. We all parent differently. We use our individual awesome individual identities to create a just as awesome family identity. I didn’t realize what I was doing naturally was building a family identity until I saw how someone else doing it differently.
Our family identity is a mix of what we do with our kids that we like and value, and their own personalities. My sons love being outside because it has become something we have shared as a family since they were babies, taking in the scenery in the baby carrier, and now that they are older each of my kids put his own spin on the great outdoors. My one son will stay outside all day if I let him exploring and looking at bugs or attempting to garden. My other son loves his bike, takes the lead on walks, and loves to explore unchartered territory.
Sometimes you just do what you enjoy with your kids and don’t even realize you’re instilling values in them. Once you recognize patterns, you can be more intentional about your parenting. Some values may be just part of your routine, but by reflecting on what you may find there are other areas that you would like to work on. Maybe there’s a value that’s really important to you, but your daily life is not reflecting that and you want to take steps to change this (for me this was incorporating more faith as a family and not just for me personally).
Raising children to be great human beings is a daunting task that can seem overwhelming and there are many moments we secretly think we’re screwing up. Take heart my friend, there are lots of things you’re already doing awesome at. We all have things we can improve on as parents, the trick is starting small and starting with what is most important to us. Then create opportunities for yourself to practice this positive value for you and your family.
Questions to Ask Yourself to Find Your Family Values:
What do you do a lot of with your family?
What qualities do you think are most important to see in your kids?
What do you want to model for them about how your kids navigate the world?
How do you connect as a family? (conversation, activities, etc)
What is getting in the way of your values?
You can see my own answers to these questions on the What My Family Values worksheet I created to help you reflect on your own values.
We All Have Our Own Family Rhythm
I recently reflected with a friend on how our kids and families are different.
Her girls are knowledgeable about strong females in history and other cultures. They ask lots of questions and have vibrant imaginations. They’ll stay inside and build elaborate structures with whatever is on hand and create stories to go with them. My friend values diversity, female empowerment, and a safe and open space for questions. Her girls are going to change the world with her parenting.
My boys and I like to go for walks and picnics, greeting those we see along the way. We go on adventures exploring new places and visiting old favorites. My boys especially love running, climbing, and skipping rocks. Spending time outside together and being active are things we value.
We each have our own family rhythm and values that reflect what we do with our kids, the opportunities we give them, and the conversations we have with them. Some families may value the same thing but show it in different ways.
In these days of social media, it’s easy to compare your style with other people. Just as we need to be comfortable in who we are as individuals, the same is true for you as a family. If you’re a traveling sports team family, go for it. If you’re a work hard to get by family, keep being strong. If you’re a musical and art loving family, create beauty. If you’re big gathering where’s my people family, keep loving. If you’re a where’s the nearest tree type family, go find one.
Questions to Ask Yourself:
What am I doing in my daily life that aligns with these values?
Is there a value I’d like to work on more with my family?
Is this a value my whole family shares or just me?
What are fun and inviting ways of incorporating this value into our lives?
Honoring Values and Starting Small
No family is perfect. Even if they may seem it. Sometimes what one person values, is not what someone else values in a family. Families are a group of distinct personalities that have different opinions and learn to live and love together. It’s not easy sometimes. It can require compromise. It is about listening and honoring what people value and helping everyone live as closely to their values as they can.
Reflection is the first step. Start small. Pick one value to work on. Have the conversations with your loved ones, and you’ll be one step closer to where you want to go.
You Got This!