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.
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.)
We chose to start this journey by taking the following steps:
1. Talked to the kids about values and what they value.
2. We (the parents) discussed our value systems and identified five core values (or, perhaps value families) that we would like to focus on as a family.
3. Planned an initial approach to living our values daily from both a monthly and weekly approach.
4. Talked with the kids again to have them provide input to the weekly goals we, the parents, set.
In the first step, I (mom) took charge of the conversation, mostly due to my educational/professional background (you can read more about that in the upcoming post, “Meet the Families”) and because my husband tends to talk about values from a big, historical perspective that little minds have a hard time wrapping themselves around 😉
Good, albeit surprising, news is that we have been living our values to some extent…or at least talking about them enough that our kids picked something up. All four kiddos identified “family” as being a value, with all but the youngest also identifying helping others (animals and/or people in need) as a second important value. They all suggested spending more time with family and friends as a way to more purposefully live their identified values.
Interestingly, the two oldest both voiced some concern
over how this new family endeavor, living our values everyday, might impact or change their lives and worries over it feeling like additional chores. To which I replied, “It should change our lives, but it should be for the better.” They seemed to buy it…let’s hope I was right!
That discussion out of the way, with the kids top values identified, it was time for my husband and I to come to a consensus. I knew it would be tough, mostly due to our differing views of the time frame in which values matter–he sees it through a historical and cultural lens while I view it through a much smaller familial lens. So, I did what one should always do when expecting a long night of deep thought and conversation; I cracked open a bottle of rose and grabbed my favorite pen and got comfy on the couch. Here is what we came up with, after repeated (and probably annoying) questioning on my part to encourage my husband to actually identify specifics in values and not just use overarching words like “Culture” and “Faith”. This seems to be the difficulty in discussing values, we use value-based, ambiguous words, and try to make these words hold similar meanings and intrinsic worth for everyone–it just doesn’t work that way. We came up with five core values (or value families) that we would like to instill in our children, all of which house many secondary values. The use of value families will allow us to live the values utilizing various approaches aiming at various secondary values. Here is what we came up with:
*Kith and Kin: family, both immediate and extended, and family of choice, through prioritizing, spending meaningful time with, and engaging in supportive relationship building.
*Learning: structured and unstructured, critical thinking, modeling and encouraging questioning–even of authority, increasing curiosity, formal and informal educational experiences
*Duty to Community: aiding in development of others, giving to others, identifying and using your gifts to support others, identifying needs of community and feeling empowered to do something
* Spirituality: moral code, faith, religiosity, meaning in things greater than ourselves and awareness of our place in world
*Personal Development: always seeking to better self, health, wellness, diet, exercise, learning, growth inwards, upwards, and outwards
With those five value families; I feel that we have more than enough to keep us busy over the next year as we attempt to live our values everyday. Though I wanted to be my typical overachiever self and try to live each every month, my husband pulled me back to reality and suggested starting with one value family at a time and purposely implementing it for a month then reviewing and revisiting.
We chose to start with “Kith & Kin” and made the goal of spending time each weekend in a purposeful activity with our children; one in which we are completely emotionally, intellectually, and physically present in our interactions with them. That means no phones, no movie night, no kids doing their thing while we hang back and do ours. Not that those activities are wrong or bad, just that they were not as purposeful in supporting the value of kith & kin as we wanted.
We again went to the kids and had a family discussion regarding “what would you like mama and dada to do with you guys this weekend?” This is a discussion we plan to have every weekend in September with the goal of creating an experience for the kids each weekend that highlights and embodies the value of kith & kin based on their input.
Week 1? the local farm park’s corn maze!
We’ll check-in in about a month and let you all know how it went attempting to live the value of kith & kin purposefully this month.
Thanks for joining us! This blog has been created to follow four families as they attempt to live their values everyday for a full year (beginning September 1, 2018). Check in weekly for updates and monthly for an analysis of the progress of the four families. And, always, feel free to contact us, to join us by living your values everyday, and to share your stories and experiences with us as well.
Let’s all try each day to live a little more purposely, so we can all live a little more fully.
Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton