How to State Your Values
Without Stepping on Someone Else’s
Everyone knows parenting is tricky, and
communicating your values to your children
can be even trickier. Here’s the catch... your
personal values may not be the same as your
spouse’s values, or your kids’ values. Each
person in the family needs to feel that their
beliefs and their values are accepted, even if
they aren’t the same as everyone else’s.
Most of us have a meter constantly
running in our heads from which we evaluate
ourselves in comparison to those around us
and either come out “better than” or “less
than”. A “better than” is when I compare
myself to you and come out on top. “My
car is better than yours.” “My food plan is
a better way to eat.” “My way of looking at
life this is better than yours.”
What does a “better than” look like?
Here’s an example: Imagine that your 9 year
old daughter comes home and tells you that
someone in her school asked her if she went
to church, and that this person told her that
if she didn’t go to church she was going to
go to hell.
Now, in anger, it would be easy to say to
your daughter, “People who assume to know
what God is thinking are not very smart.”
Now that is a very sophisticated “better
than.” In so many words, you told your
daughter that your family is right, is better,
and is smarter, than the other girl’s family.
Chances are that one will catch up with
In a perfect world we wouldn’t do “better
thans.” Instead, we would accept who we
are, what we do, what we think, and what
we say as OUR business and who you are,
what you do, what you think, and what you
say as YOUR business. We would think
before we speak and exemplify graciousness
and acceptance in every part of our lives.
Of course this is what we want our
children to learn.
Guess how they are going to learn it?
Yep, from us. It is up to us to clean up our
act and set the example we want them to
The first step in Values 101 is to observe.
Step back for a few days and notice what
your beliefs are now. You can’t change what
you don’t name.
Answer these questions for yourselves
and in regards to your family:
What do I believe?
What is true for me?
Connect with your intuition. Learn
to recognize the “aha”. Intuition comes
quietly; it is a simple reminder of what you
have always known.
If your realization is emotion-backed it
is coming from your head; listen to it and
let it go without saying or doing anything.
If you are unsure of which thought to
pay attention, make it the first one that pops
into your head with the “aha” factor. Avoid
State your truth:
For example, “I believe that each person
should have their own beliefs.”
Test the theory:
How do I feel when I think this “truth”?
Notice your body’s response:
Comfort equals YES. “When I say this
statement it feels true for me to the core of
Discomfort equals NO. “When I say
this I feel stress, physical discomfort, out of
Once you figure it out what your truths
are, compare them with your partner’s.
Reconcile your differences and compose
a list of truths to share with your children.
A family truth is simple. Create a one
or two sentence statement that is true
for everyone in the family. Focus on the
In this family...
“We walk whenever possible, instead of
taking the car.”
“We eat healthy foods.”
“We save treats for special occasions.”
“We treat people respectfully.”
“We believe that God is good.”
“We believe that focusing on gratefuls
brings more gratitude into our lives.”
“We believe that everyone is entitled to
their own truths.”
“We believe that we can listen to other’s
views and decide if they are true for us
without saying a word.”
Once your family has a set of beliefs,
name it, “OUR FAMILY DOCTRINE”. Make
a beautiful poster and display it in a
prominent place. Review them on a regular
basis. Read them aloud at the beginning of
your family meetings. Test your doctrines
and revise them regularly. Keep them alive.
Match your rhythms and the ever-changing
scope of your family life. Invite your
family members to come up with their own
personal belief systems. Embrace those that
are true for all of you, and add them to your
Explore with your loved ones how your
doctrines take shape in your daily lives.
What do you do as a result of thinking this?
How do you act? How do you interact?
What do you say? How do you feel?
Visualize it. Capture as many details as
you can. Really feel the warmheartedness.
Experience the richness.
Watch for signs of slippage:
Beware of when you try to impose your
beliefs on someone else and find yourself
“selling” your position.
Or you find yourself defending your
Or instead of listening and responding
to what is being said, you wait for the other
person to take a breath so you can inject
Any discomfort is a signal to further
investigate your beliefs and determine if
what you say is still true for you or if you
are minding someone else’s business instead
of your own.
It’s important that your children are
given the room to be true to themselves,
otherwise, down the road, they may feel the
need to agree with you, or lie to you, in
order to be accepted in the family. Your
children may not grow up to be like you,
but if you can accept that your way is not
better than their way, then you can have a
real relationship with them... now and when
they are adults.