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 you.

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 follow.

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 over-thinking.

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 my being.”

Discomfort equals NO. “When I say this I feel stress, physical discomfort, out of balance.”

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 positive:

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 “FAMILY DOCTRINE.”

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 view.

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 your opinion.

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.