The secret to a happy life 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 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 did 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, take the lead on walks, and 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. You may already have certain values down and you can turn your attention to other areas that you would like to work on.
Maybe there are certain areas you want to focus 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 see 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 they navigate the world?
How do we connect as a family? (conversation, activities, etc)
What is getting in the way of my values?
You can see my own answers to these questions on the worksheet I created. Maybe you’ll realize hidden values in your everyday life like I did.
We All Have Our Own Family Rhythm
My sister-in-law has been living with us while she finds a home these past few months. It has made me reflect on family values and how we all value different things.
Her girls are knowledgeable about strong females in history, the human body, and other cultures. They ask lots of questions. My sister-in-law values diversity, female empowerment, and a safe and open space for questions. Her girls are going to change the world with her parenting.
Her values as a mom reflect in what experiences and conversations she has with her kids. The same is true for you and your family values.
When they first arrived I suggested outings to do together and walks we could do. I soon realized it was more of our thing than theirs. The girls would much rather build magnificent houses with whatever is around and create stories to complement their imagination.
Each family has its own rhythm. I get out of the house by 9 most days if I can. My boys and I like to go for walks and picnics. We go on adventures exploring new places and visiting old favorites. They especially love running, climbing, and skipping rocks. In the winter we try to get out and go on some type of adventure, if only to go look at the train set at the local hardware store.
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, give some love. 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 takes compromise sometimes. 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!
May you find and foster your family values.