It is amazing how fast time flies and one month passes. We finally completed our value tree! The kids had a lot of fun creating it, and we think it turned out really pretty. I wrote in our values, and tried to keep the wording easy for little ones to understand. For example, I wrote “thankful” instead of “gratitude,” and “giving” in place of “generosity”.
At the core/base of our value tree you will find family, friends, faith, and nature. And then our first main branch shows how we value ourselves and others; these include our behaviors that show those values. In that branch you will find kindness and patience, for example.
The second main branch goes into more detail of what we value. For example financial security (we chose to write “money” so the kids can relate better) and health, which then further branches off into nutrition, exercise, sleep, etc.
The kids also wanted “the fruit of the spirit” added into our picture.
I hope you get the picture, but to help visualize what I am trying to explain we have posted our art project here 🙂
We think that having our values displayed will help explain why we do certain things in our everyday life, such as speak kindly, brush our teeth, go to school/work, etc. We also hope that it will also remind us to focus on what we prioritize a little bit more–such as having fun and being generous.
It will be interesting to see if the upcoming holiday season will help us focus on our values a little more OR if we will be distracted from our priorities with all the to-do’s of this season. (Feel free to let us know your experience as you navigate the holiday season while also trying to live your values everyday!)
This past month’s goals proved incredibly difficult to meet.
As with other families involved in this challenge, life seemed to get the best of of us this month. While we did spend a good deal of time engaging in kith and kin related activities; unfortunately, these activities were not as purposeful as we had hoped.
We did engage in the hike the kids had requested, created a shelter in the living room, answered countless random questions, and built many a fire; we (dad especially) sought to engage in some level of structured learning experiences as well. This is where we feel we have continued room for growth.
Because of this, we have decided to stick with this value family for another month. The activities we are most interested in focusing on this next month include:
*Engaging in supportive relationship building/growth as siblings/kind people
We will commit to planning at least one activity weekly, with the kids input, for at least one purposeful, meaningful growth activity per week. (with the hopes of continuing to encourage kith and kin and growth throughout the week.)
We hope we can find a way to integrate the busy holiday season and our goals of living our values daily (so many ways to give during the season, but also so many ways to get lost in the materialism.)
The last month has been a whirl wind to say the least. When we finally had time with our two older children, who are 8 and 6 years old, every other weekend, it felt as if they were with us for a blink of an eye. How could we possibly take time to talk about values with them as a family, much less work on those values in 24 waking hours every two weeks? The lack of values within our children’s lives, due to them spending the majority of time with their mother, who hold different values, is extremely hard. We then tend to enforce our values and beliefs even stronger when we have them due to emotions and frustrations that lie beneath. When my husband and I spoke on this issue, we realized until we have the children more we can only do our best to instill our values as well as lead by example. (Editor’s note: this is the case for most families because of the hectic pace of life in general; it just is made so much clearer in this type of situation!)
“The arrival of stressful and chaotic times is when we need to unite as a family even more, as well as surrender control.”
Recently my husband and I spoke about our desire to love and respect each other more effectively in our day to day lives, in hopes to better our relationship as well as be an example to our children. With all sorts of stressors in our daily lives, we have found it difficult to love and respect each other as well as I would like. I will speak for myself on this topic. On October 12, we had gone in for an ultrasound to check on our baby. I was 37 weeks pregnant at the time. Our OB came in and explained the baby needed to come out that day via C-section. Long story short, the baby was delivered hours later that day. We left the hospital 3 days later with our baby girl AND barely anything in our home prepared for this little one.
This was a massive, and unexpected, shock to me and my husband. The stress of not having the house ready, especially feeling as if I couldn’t nest well with my new baby was extremely hard for me. I like to be prepared. The lack of control I had over this new way of life (that I was not exactly ready for), left me feeling unstable, and I am sure the hormones contribute as well, of course. Dealing with a new infant and lack of sleep has left me feeling depleted at times.
Finding time to purposely love, and respect, and instill values during such a time has been very hard. I feel I have failed miserably in this recent season of life. The arrival of stressful and chaotic times is when we need to unite as a family even more, as well as surrender control. One thing my husband desires to do as a family is put a poster up in our home with values we all choose to work on daily as a family. This will hopefully be a positive visual reminder for us.
After discussing and laying out our values with our family, Mom and Dad checked in with our family’s progress. We’re embarrassed to say that we have not progressed as intended. We decided that our failure was primarily due to a lack of a control-document or process. Our plan is to devise a working system by end of month, in order to hold our family accountable to our values. This will help us into the future, as things are bound to get more hectic with a little one on the way!
Potential solutions included a picture (Easy to follow and use for the kids…and Dad), a simplified SOP (Editor’s note: SOP=standard operating procedures or an agreed upon, easily understood set of expectations that all concerned individual share in order to meet a shared goal), a printed control document and more structured verbal check-ins during family dinner. Mom and Dad feel that we could employ a blended strategy of all solutions.
“It’s rudimentary, but fun and engaging.”
We will put up a picture, which shows our values, so that we can easily reference our values and remind us to live them. Our picture will be placed under our family calendar in our kitchen and can also be seen from our primary eating space. The reason for that placement is that the proximity may assist us is because we play a game at dinner called, “Sweet and Sour”. The objective is to get someone to share the day’s Best and Worst as a spark of conversation. The fun is in being the first person to call out a fellow family member (or guest) and ask them for their input. We ask that the first topic be the Sour, so that we can end on a positive note, the Sweet. It’s rudimentary, but fun and engaging. Most importantly, it is a great tool with which we can learn about each other’s perspectives.
Sour before the Sweet in Sweet and Sour game during Family Dinner.
Additionally, going forward we are setting a goal to focus on one value per month. We will ensure we are living these values purposefully and proactively. At dinner, when our family is together, we will discuss how we exemplified that particular value. If we have not used that selected value that day, we can discuss where we could have used it or if it was appropriate for the situation or not.
I feel embarrassed to report that we have not yet created our “value tree”. It has been over a month since we came up with the draft and even went to the craft store to buy a poster board. Our kids asked when we would finally work on painting the tree for a week or two, but then the intention was lost in our day to day busyness. My husband and I committed to drawing it out last night, but then ended up spending time with friends instead (one of our values – friendships!). And then we postponed it to today, which was spent helping my mother-in-law (another value – family!) and cleaning/cooking/haircuts/laundry (these fit into two other values we identified: health and security!). I am excited that as I am writing this, I realize that even though we did not get around to our art project – we still lived our values 🙂
I really appreciate how this project helps us live a little more mindfully.
I also noticed that even though we did not find time to sit down and talk specifically about our values since last month, we still were able to talk about them with our children. We often explained to the kids that the reason we do X, is because we value Y. For example, when we explored our local pumpkin farm to pick out our Halloween pumpkins last weekend, we explained that our outing helped us live several values: family, nature/outdoors, enjoyment, and inquisitiveness. And today when my daughter helped me with the laundry and then I helped her with cleaning her hamster cage, we talked about how our teamwork helped us live the values “family, kindness, and courtesy”.
I really appreciate how this project helps us live a little more mindfully. Hopefully, by recognizing when and how we live our values every day and pointing them out to our children, we can all incorporate our values and appreciation for them into our daily routine.
On a side note, our son created a “Fruit of the Spirit Handprint Tree” at preschool. His class is learning about Galatians 5:22-23 “but the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” We all thought it was really neat that his preschool project was so very similar to our home project. This further facilitated many conversations about our values, and we are planning to somehow incorporate our son’s preschool project into our family’s value tree. …Once we finally get it 🙂
We are officially more than a month into attempting to live our values daily. For those of you not following the monthly check-ins, our family chose to attack one value set at a time, with quality time with kith and kin being our first value goal. While not meeting the lofty goal of living this value daily, there have been some notable changes:
We, the parents, are more aware of our engagement with the kids. I noticed we spent less time on our phones or computers, engaged one another and the kids in conversations, and had less family movie nights this past month than we have in several months.
We, as a family, have been purposeful in planning our weekends to ensure we had time for family activities that were enjoyable. This required a good deal of sacrificing on all sides (no dissertation work on weekends till kids went to bed for me, less time with friends for my husband, and skipping a sleep over for our oldest.) Everyone agrees it was worth it. We played at the playground on the zipline and the climbing wall, went to the circus, cooked and ate dinners together, went to sports games as a whole family even when it wasn’t necessary, and hosted get togethers with friends and family. Our weekends were truly focused on kith and kin.
When having our monthly family meeting, the kids shared that they were happy with this experiment so far. They shared they felt “more important” and “more loved” over the past few weeks as my husband and I took the time to connect with them over their interests and in a conscious manner. It means something to them that we consciously chose playing with them over sitting and talking to one another, or working on our school/work projects.
Moving forward, we plan to continue forward with our momentum towards the goal of engaging in activities focused on kith and kin this month, but also focused on learning and growth in some way, shape or form. The kids requested hiking, exploring the world around them, and learning skills they would need “to survive by ourselves in the woods.” We, the parents, have our goal of providing the kids with the kind of learning experiences they are requesting and increasing our own knowledge of gardening and canning in such a way that we are also enjoying quality time with one another. (Secondarily, I have made it a goal to actually look up the answers to all the questions the kids ask that I don’t know and say “let’s google it when we get home.” Starting with this: the horses we saw the other day were probably wearing coats because they had been recently bathed, the owner didn’t want them to get dirty, or they had a recent hair cut and may have been a bit chilled.)
What have you always wanted to learn? What’s stopping you? Is there something you can do this next month to grow in your learning, knowledge, abilities in some small way? Join us!
When my husband and I heard about this implementing values in our family’s lives more intentionally, we jumped right in to be a part of it.
“…but the reality is we did not set time aside to do it, period”
Of course, a month, or maybe even two, has gone by and we have yet to sit down and talk about what those values will be or are. It seems as if whenever we are called to do something positive and sacrificing at all, whether it be for ourselves, our family or others, everything and anything gets in the way. I could sit here and give all the excuses of how this last month TRULY was one of the most hectic months we’ve had (which is why we were unable to have our sit-down conversation as a couple and family about what our values are), but the reality is we did not set time aside to do it, period.
Due to only getting our children every other weekend as of right now, we will need to wait to have the conversation as a family until next weekend. In the mean time, when my husband can sit still from working and traveling so much before our little girl comes at the end of the month, he and I will sit down together and communicate our goals and values as a unit. At times, as I’m sure you all experience, it feels impossible to sit down and calm our minds down to place where we can speak on these topics.
This project of instilling much needed values will be a great thing for us to say the least! He and I were excited about this project, because many times we have spoken about ideas and goals we would like to attain with our children, and as a married couple. A few of those include: intentional prayer together as a couple and family (aside from just the “prayer before meals” kind of prayer), kindness incentives for the kids, as well as us as parents, respect, etc. We are very excited to act on these desires we have had, and live out these values for our family, rather than just speak on them. We also look forward to getting back to you all with our written down values which we will acquire here very soon. 🙂
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.
Each family is uniquely its own mini culture, with its own set of values and its own way of teaching these values to the next generation and of upholding its values. Each family is made of at least two different value systems, thought often many more. Because of this, the make up of the family matters, the experience, the history, the number of children, the parents jobs, etc., etc., etc. All of this matters, and so much more. So, as you join us on our journey, please take a moment to get to know us, each family, our make up, our unique dynamics and set up. As we go forth, monthly compilations will be written taking these unique pieces into consideration as we explore how values are lived in different families.
So, meet the families!
Family “A” Profile:
Three early elementary school children, one preschool child, and two married parents. Children attend private faith-based schools.
Mom – Mom is (almost) a Doctor of Psychology with a background as a special education teacher in the southern United States. She was raised in a poor family in the southern United States.
Dad – Dad is an executive at a small (200 people) corporation. He is working on his Business Doctorate. Dad was raised in the Midwest in an upper-middle class home and had his attitude appropriately readjusted at The Citadel.
Family “B” Profile:
Three children, one early elementary school age,
one pre-K aged, and one infant. Oldest child attends public school, in an excellent school district while middle child attends faith based school. Family attends a local church. Mom and Dad have a notable age gap.
Mom – Mom is a Nurse Practitioner and has spent her career in the medical field. Mom grew up in Germany and immigrated to the United States in her twenties. She grew up in a blended family.
Dad – Dad works in construction and facilities. Dad grew up in the Midwest and was raised in a middle-class, blended family home.
Family “C” Profile:
Two (soon to be three children): one early teenager
from a previous relationship, but the child grew up with mom and dad from year one, one elementary school-aged, and one infant soon to arrive. Both children attend private school, the elementary school age child attends a faith-based school.
Mom – Mom is a nursing student and splits her time between being a very pregnant mom and a care giver in the medical field. Mom grew up in a lower-middle class family in the inner-city in the Midwest.
Dad – Dad is a former Recon Marine Officer who manages special programs at one of the top three rated hospitals in the United States. Dad grew up in the Midwest in an upper-middle class home where he received lots of “motivation” from his Uncle, a 30-year time in service, Chief Petty Officer.
Family “D” Profile:
Two (soon to be three children): two elementary
school aged and one infant arriving in a few weeks. The children attend public schools and a local church. Family D is blended from dad’s previous marriage. The two children split their time between Family D and their biological mother’s home (with live in boyfriend). Mom and Dad have a notable age gap, and this is a very faith-based family.
Dad – Dad retired from an 18-year career split between the Navy and the Army. Dad spent his last ten years in the Army as a member of a Tier 1 SMU. Dad and mom married after dad retired from the Army. Dad is an executive at a small organization. Dad grew up in the Midwest with his grandparents and mother.
Mom – Mom is a full-time counseling graduate student who grew up in a middle-class home in California. Mom previously worked as a counselor and is very faith driven.
When we were asked to take part in “Living your values every day”, we thought it would be a quick and easy project. Well, it was not that straight forward after all… it turns out we have been taking our values for “granted”. We never sat down and listed them out, defined them, much less talked about them at any length.
At first it was a little tough choosing the values that we wanted to focus on for this project, there are so many values and none of them are “bad”. My wife and I both came up with a list of values that we prioritize (thankfully we agreed on them all). As we worked through the list of values, we noticed that some we were already living daily and others we really haven’t – hopefully working through this project will help us improve purposefully living those neglected values.
Once we had our list, we thought of a way to display them in our home. We hope that this would help us be reminded of our values and decided to create a “value tree” for this purpose. We will use the tree’s trunk, branches, and leaves to help portray our family’s categorized values. Hopefully, creating our value tree will also engage our children in this project and help them understand and remember the values that we as a family would like to focus on every day.
(We will post an actual image when we are done creating the tree as a family.)