We were approached by our close friends to take part in an evaluation of our values, with a challenge to live them more consistently. In accepting the invitation, my wife and I thought it would be best to talk about this journey over a family dinner, with our children. Once we were seated at the table, Mom and Dad introduced the idea and told the kids about the invitation that we accepted. We then asked our kids to define, “values”. A value was defined (for the sake of our journey, put your dictionary down!) as a trait or characteristic that helped to guide your actions, consistently. This was a fun discussion which allowed us to better understand our family’s idea of values and what our kids found to be important.
“Our son was the first person to choose his value. He stated that he appreciated Loyalty.”
After defining, ‘value’, we all threw out some ideas on what our primary values should be. After a fair bit of discussion, we thought asking each person to identify their most important value would be a great place to start our journey. After all, we can change or add values as we embark on living them more fully. Our son was the first person to choose his value. He stated that he appreciated Loyalty. When we asked him to clarify his meaning, he told us that being loyal to family and friends (his verbiage: “to the people closest to you”) can help others to feel appreciated. When we understood his approach, we agreed that this would be a great value with which to guide our actions.
Mom was next and her top value was Teamwork. Mom is currently pregnant, works nights, and is often operating on very little sleep. She works her tail off to take care of the kids, husband, household and her very best friend, Jessie the dog (Actually, she hates that dog!). We discussed the importance of jumping in to help complete household chores. Our kids have repeatedly stated that they didn’t want to clean up a mess that wasn’t made by them personally. We discussed the importance of sharing the responsibility of the house and land, while looking after each other if one or two people are doing the work required of a growing family. Not only does a shared responsibility help save time, it creates an environment of shared trust and support; no more grey man! Additionally, we discussed how this value can be closely tied to Loyalty with our friends. Using Teamwork to overcome obstacles or meet goals creates a tighter bond with your teammates. We all agreed that a loyal teammate is someone that we all strive to be.
We found it interesting that our daughter suggested the idea of Safety/Security(her verbiage: “Feeling safe”) as something she valued. This was perplexing, as we live in a safe ‘country’ neighborhood and we thought that she was surrounded by an abundance of safety at home, school and otherwise. She went on to say that safety was important for everyone because it allows them to share ideas more clearly. When we asked her to clarify, she said that she feels more comfortable sharing information with her family if she feels safe, physically and emotionally. Maslow would be proud!
“We decided that using Respect is critically important to holding each other accountable for our family values.”
Finally, Dad threw out the value of Respect. We discussed the perspective of that value and how it tied neatly into the others. While we want to create a physically and emotionally safe environment and support each other by being loyal teammates, we need to do this in a respectful manner. When speaking to other family members (Yes, Mom, including the dog…*Mom glares) or our friends, we need to be aware of our audience. Understand another person’s perspective and use an appropriate tone when speaking to them, for instance. We also tied in the respect of our house, similar to that discussed in our paragraph about Teamwork. We decided that using Respect is critically important to holding each other accountable for our family values. When discussing issues or values with other family members, it is important to remember to be present in the conversation (no phones!), and be clear but respectful about feedback. Being respectful is also the responsibility of the listener to check emotions and be open to the thoughts of the speaker.
We are looking forward to exploring these values, implementation and feedback over the coming months. We’re excited to share this journey with our other friends and any readers.