As parents we all want our kids to become well-adjusted successful young adults with good morals and ethics, right?

“Values” has become such a popular word in recent years, especially preceded by the word “family”. To talk about values is to talk about what kind of a person you want your child to be. Truth is most parents aspire to a short list of universals: honesty, compassion, trustworthiness, generosity, courtesy, fairness, self- respect, respect for others … and many more.

So mom and dad, what do you truly value? Here’s the thing, values are completely subjective and are personal opinions, not facts. How we as parents rank our own virtues depend on many factors; religion, culture, political convictions; all play a role. Your upbringing, life experience, interests – and those of your partner – colour them too.

Yes, our values shape the essence of who our children become – Powerful stuff! Here’s the scary bit though; parents teach their values to their kids most powerfully by the values they live by. Values are caught by children as much as they are taught! So, if you value honesty, but fib about your child’s age to get a discount at the movies, your child will more than likely decide that saving money is more important than being honest. The old adage “do what I say, not what I do” simply doesn’t work.

Oh yeah, they are watching us; they see how we deal with conflict, how we spend our money, and how we treat other people. Values are one of the most important parenting tools, particularly in the first 6 to 8 years of your child’s life. Without positive values we’re leaving your kids unprepared to live and thrive in an ever changing world.

Consider these tips to build and strengthen your child’s character into adulthood:

  • Nurture a warm relationship. Kids tend to be more willing to accept parental values when they feel close to their parents.
  • Instead of telling your kids how to live, show them. Talk about your values when they’re eavesdropping, e.g. when your child is sitting nearby you might say to your spouse: “The clerk at the store gave me too much money in change. I could have kept it, but I gave it back, I always feel better when I do the right thing”.
  • Actions speak louder than words. The next time someone in your neighbourhood needs help; show your kids how responsible, caring adults act. Also, find a hands-on, family friendly volunteer project to make a difference in someone’s life.
  • View mistakes as teachable moments. Whether mistakes are trivial or have momentous consequences; always keep your relationship with your child a priority.
  • Provide experiences that reinforce positive values; if being responsible is important, give them opportunities where others depend on them.

“Live so that when your children think of fairness and integrity, they think of you” – H Jackson-Brown.


DISCLAIMER: The information on this website is for educational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you are experiencing symptoms or need health advice, please consult a healthcare professional.