Guest Author - Lisa Polovin Pinkus
What conscientious parent doesn’t want to raise a child with good, strong values? How many parents actually spend time identifying the values they would like to bestow upon their children? Teaching values comes primarily through role modeling, but there are other methods we can use to ensure our children acquire the values that are important to us.
Educating children about the ethical principles your family holds in high regard gives your children a solid foundation for making healthy choices in their future. The values you impart to your children become the guiding force in their decision-making, feelings of self-confidence, and in their relationships with others.
Before you can teach your children values, you must know what it is that you attach importance to. Set aside time to go through a values exercise. If it’s hard to name the values that are important to you, you can find lists on the Internet and use those as a jumping off point. Write down any words that speak to you; next, keep narrowing down the list until you are left with your top five words.
Once you have identified your five most significant ideals, create specific ways to show and teach these within your home. You can find quotes expressing these values and display them around your home. Read stories to your children containing messages of your top five principles.
Create activities that reflect your values. If, for example, responsibility is important to you, give your children household tasks they can be in charge of. If you value compassion, visit nursing homes, animal shelters, or soup kitchens. Gather a community of like-minded friends for your children. Identify other parents who share similar values and bring the families together for play dates and outings.
The best way to imbue your values into your children’s lives is to model those values yourself. Words without action have very little meaning. Make sure you are doing your own personal work to guarantee that you are living what you believe in. Take time to review your own, personal values frequently. As time moves on, we change and other values may become more important to us. When you are conscious of your changing values and the ones that remain most significant to you – you will be more effective at passing those along to your children.
Write an ethical will. An ethical will is a way for you to preserve your life’s lessons, values, and your hopes for the future. It is a way for family members to know what you stood for long after you are gone. It is a way to leave – and live – a legacy. There are books and online resources to guide you through the journey of writing an ethical will.
A person’s values are the cornerstone of their very being. Our values drive our decisions, our pursuits in life, and our actions toward others. Children with strong role models will be confident, self-assured, and empowered to make healthy choices throughout their lives. Demonstrating these values to our children is one of the most important responsibilities a mother has.