On Cultural Change and Values

One of the main reasons we embarked on this purposeful living of our values was the feeling that life was flying by, and our kids were growing incrementally, without us meaningfully teaching a set of values.  This is a truth that each family shared in their own ways, and as you can read, each family went about discussing, identifying, and living their values differently.  The families shared in two key components:  a belief that living and teaching values to our children is important and a feeling that they could be doing more to engage their children, and themselves, in their identified values.

“Purposeful living of our values represents an intentional manipulation of the life space we choose to create, and engage in, with our children.”

The research supports the assertion that teaching children values is important; in fact, basic values of an individual are, for the most part, fixed by the time one is considered an adult (Baker, Dalton, & Hildebrand, 1981; Inglehart, 1977, 1997; Rokeach 1968, 1973).  Kurt Lewin (1939) discussed Life Spaces, or the psychological space or environment in which a person lives.  Everything that could possibly influence our behaviors is housed within our life space.  We organize, interpret, and enact our experiences both in, and as a reaction to, our life space.  Purposeful living of our values represents an intentional manipulation of the life space we choose to create, and engage in, with our children. As parents, we are responsible for both broadening and refining our children’s life spaces, ensuring values carry across borders, from the life space of home/family to those of school/friends and community/society.

While philosophers such as Marx and Nietzsche predicted a decline in traditional values with the growth of modernization, that hasn’t been the case; particularly as countries or societies move from industrial to post-industrial standing.  This has been found to be especially true of the United States (Inglehart & Baker, 2000).  Despite a convergence of values, to some extent, such as a move towards a higher value on self-expression; there is a persistence of traditional values as well.  This may be due in part to an increased sense of security, allowing for an emphasis on quality and meaning of life, or spiritual seeking (Inglehart & Baker, 2000; Wuthrow, 1998).

black and white optical illusion
Will you follow the convergence of values or find ways for values you identify as important to persist for yourself and your family?                 Photo by Stas Knop on Pexels.com

This appears to be the case for the families in this study.  As society marches forward into whatever may come post-postindustrialism (values as antiquated, outdated, and unnecessary in the face of individualism)…we as individuals and families are left asking what do we really value, if anything?  That which generations before us valued–safety, security, materials, are not quite meeting the markers we as a generation reported as important in the World Value Surveys (per Inglehart & Baker, 2000), those of finding meaning and fulfillment; so, here we stand, attempting to create, and engage in, life spaces for ourselves and our children, that keep our values at the forefront despite a larger cultural impact that may not maintain the same values, or any values at all in the future.

–Ashley E. Poklar, M.Ed.

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