Being a parent can be hard. There are so many things pulling for our attention—countless parenting blogs and books full of parenting best practices. Yet, I can honestly say, I found it! What I’m about to share is one of the most helpful parenting tips my husband and I have discovered.
Thankfully, we’ve found one exercise that has tremendously impacted our family, and we believe it can impact yours as well.
Recently, we realized what we really wanted to teach our 4-year-old son Truett had nothing to do with letters and numbers. It had far more to do with how to love others, how our family loves Jesus, and how to live in this world with godly confidence.
So, we decided to create some family core values.
We’ve talked about doing this for a while, but we thought to do it right we’d need to go through a four-part class, spend hours in prayer, write deeply meaningful descriptions, find four Scriptures to support each value, and have elaborate wall art hanging in our house.
But that’s not the case.
Creating our family values was easier than we thought. Here’s what we learned and how you can create a set, too!
- Set a time limit. Half an hour is all it takes. Having a time limit helps you quickly focus on the important things up front.
- Examine yourself. Use things you already value as a starting point.
- Ask how you want your family remembered. These could even include values you’re striving toward but aren’t fully living out yet.
- Use simple, short phrases. This will make them easier for your kids (and you) to remember!
- Start somewhere. Your list doesn’t have to be complete or perfect right off the bat. Move forward with what you have, and make changes as needed.
Our values are meant to serve as a compass for how we make decisions in our daily lives. We’re not forging the 10 Commandments into stone for all of humanity. Family values are meant to guide your family in small, daily decisions that, ultimately, will cause you to hit the big things.
These are the values our family came up with.
- We follow Jesus.
- We give generously.
- We earn trust.
- We forgive quickly.
- We make memories.
- We speak life.
- We do our best.
Every day, we go over these with our child at bedtime and we all say them. We talk about them throughout the day. When we encourage someone, we talk about how we’re speaking life. When we pay for someone’s meal or buy a friend a gift, we talk about giving generously. When our family plans change so we can help someone with a stalled car, we talk about what following Jesus means.
It all intertwines in everyday life, and it’s all important.
We now see how little, intentional things every day really are the big things in the end. Our 4-year-old’s understanding of Jesus has changed, his heart to serve others is bigger, he has gained new perspective in his ideas about the world, and the things that he values are different. We believe the same will be true of your family and encourage you to write your own family values!
Pray about the values God has called your family to live by, write them down, talk about them, teach them to your kids, and adopt them as your own.
Direct your children on the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it. Proverbs 22:6 NLT
I also want to recommend a four-session video learning experience called Family-iD. This experience challenges families to live with intentional purpose. Consider going through it with your family or LifeGroup.