I heard a statistic that 80% of all New Year’s resolutions fail. Rather than digging into the reasons behind that, or even spilling which of mine have had success (or were forgotten) over the past several years, I think we should redirect our attention this year. What if, instead of creating what are so often short-sighted and short-lived resolutions, we use this time of transition into a new year to focus some bigger picture items? I suggest we spend this year-end reflection on identifying, clarifying, and living by our values.
As parents, we try to do the best we can on every possible subject related to our children, but I’ve found the details of breastfeeding, screen time, structured activities, meal planning, and the like can overshadow some of the most important things we want to teach.
What values do you hope to instill in your children above all else? By which ones do you live your own life? It took me quite some time to actually pinpoint which character qualities mean the most to me. Then I wanted to consider my husband’s viewpoint. (After all, I chose him to be my partner in life, so I figured he must have some good ones too!)
After a lot of conversation, I’m finally ready to do something with that list. I want to make sure my kids grasp these things I consider so important while their minds are still sponges willing to soak it all in. Here are three simple steps to help you do the same.
- Figure out what actually matters to you.
I searched countless lists of values and family rules, and google has a plethora. This exercise taught me the values I thought were most important really only meant something in my professional world. Others I realized I genuinely cared about in theory, but I wouldn’t consider myself the poster child of exemplifying that characteristic.
2. Talk about what means the most to your family.
Depending on the ages of your children, you could even consider including them in this conversation. Mine are all still young enough that this was something my husband and I evaluated on our own. He did have some different things in mind than I did, and I happily incorporated his suggestions of loyalty and competitiveness into our list before defining our FAMILY values.
3. Make them known.
I plan to frame each of the 9 values we came up with on our living wall so our kids (and my husband and I) will always remember what matters most. Life can be so full of schedules and even fun that we forget to put priorities where they belong. I’m convinced that these daily reminders will help us set the record straight.
Every family is different. We became the parents we are today at least in part because of the values our parents wanted us to live by. Our experiences along the way helped develop more of them. I say it’s time we make a point of defining what we want our kids to learn from us above all else. We may not have time or even think to cover every scenario they’ll encounter in their own lives, but giving them a foundation of sound character will help them through anything they encounter.