Discovering Family Values

With our recent time in the hospital came some moments of down-time that really made me wonder what I value. In fact, not only what I value, but what we as a family value. Ashley and I had spent much time considering the question and verbalizing to one another what we believe and what we want to instill in our children. But are we getting through to the little ones with our family values? Are we taking every opportunity to model them for our kids?

The Problem with Family Values

Family values don’t seem to stick as well as they used to. All around are families who seem divided about what they believe. Even within Ashley and my extended family, we don’t see broad agreement about how to raise children and what the children’s character should be. “Family rules” have no basis when there is not an articulated set of values that provide the foundation. Getting uncles and grandmothers and babysitters to enforce the family values is even harder when they are not easily conveyed or transferred.

Family Values Permanence

So I began to ponder the opportunity of putting some of these values down in writing. It seemed like an imposing task. Family values, in many ways, are about the character we want and the character God has. They are tough concepts to wrestle with, but even tougher to put into language a child can understand. So, I began making a list of the family values Ashley and I have discussed that would be possible candidates to put in writing.

Always one who would rather not reinvent the wheel, it occurred to me maybe some other families had already walked this road and I could adapt what they had written. As I talked with five great men to which I am no peer, none of them had written down their family values. They all had them. They all deeply desired to imbed them within their families. None of them had written them down. Thinking five are better than one, I talked with my wife about taking our family values discussion to the internet and including our family and friends. She reluctantly agreed.

Family Values Proposal

Family values should take on a unique and personal flare for each individual family. The implementation is unique and thus the final set of values should be unique. But the core values are similar, and I propose that we work on this project together, using the comment system on this site as our discussion method. We’ll take a value at a time and discuss it thoroughly. Comments on each value will close after two weeks. Each family can then take what is useful and discard the rest. Together we are much wiser, no? So, please, help us all by sharing your perspective. Ponder these things alongside us. Pray through it with us. Blog about it if you have a blog. Ask your parents and advisers what they think.

Who is Invited to the Discussion?

Anyone holding a evangelical Christian world-view. That is the short answer. This isn’t a forum for crafting new beliefs or debating political agendas. This is about honing in on the core of a given family value and finding a way to articulate it in a solid, timeless way that our kids can adopt. Ashley and I are inviting all of our family to contribute. After all, if they are going to live with the family values we chose, they should have a healthy opportunity to debate them. Feel free to invite your family to this discussion as well. We’ll all learn from one another. This is the invite we are sending out in a few moments:

Family and Friends,

Ashley and I are putting our family values into writing. As we shared with others our desire to solidify our values in terms our children can understand, it seems many families have yet to do this. Most everyone indicates it is a worthwhile endeavor and that they would do well to have their family values written out as well.

Since the values Ashley and I choose for our immediate family impact our relationships with you all, as well as the way we will ask that you interact with our children, we want to invite you to participate in the drafting of these. You are also free to use this discussion as a starting point for putting your own family values in writing.

We’ll be considering each value on our blog and request your participation as you are able. Read and comment on the values related discussions here: http://www.ashleyandjason.com/ Thanks in advance for your partnering with us in creating something that will help us develop character in ourselves and our children.

Warmest regards,

Ashley and Jason Reynolds

Family Values Resources

No, it has not eluded us there are heaps of resources out there on “Family Values”. Books galore. Programs explored. Our approach here is not a rejection of those resources. We may borrow from the Proverbs, books, videos, wives tales, or from other copyrighted works. Everything is fair game since this is for personal use. In fact, the process we will follow on the blog is a bit like the bonus projects that accompany Family Life’s Raising Children of Faith. When you do use or reference other resources, I would ask that you cite the reference.

List-o-Family Value

After talking with Dave about this project, he agreed to jump in and provide his list of family values worth consideration. So I have merged his list with my own. Add your own values in the comments. Ashley and I will post a compiled list and trim it back for these discussions:

  • Accountability
  • Cleanliness
  • Commitment
  • Communication
  • Compassion
  • Contentment
  • Conviction
  • Cooperation
  • Courage
  • Determination
  • Discipline
  • Endurance
  • Fairness
  • Faith
  • Forgiveness
  • Friendship
  • Generosity
  • Gratitude
  • Honesty
  • Honor
  • Hope
  • Humility
  • Individuality
  • Initiative
  • Integrity
  • Joy
  • Kindness
  • Knowledge
  • Learning
  • Love
  • Loyal
  • Morally Pure
  • Obedience
  • Openness
  • Patience
  • Peace
  • Personal Excellence
  • Resourcefulness
  • Respect
  • Responsibility
  • Safety First
  • Self-Control
  • Selflessness
  • Service
  • Trust
  • Uniqueness
  • Wisdom

4 thoughts on “Discovering Family Values

  1. Forgive me for not contributing earlier (and blowing your 2-week plan), but as I have meditated on the concept of values, I realize just how difficult it is to articulate in a clear and concise fashion. And rather than just regurgitate old cliche value statements that I have heard or read, I thought I would carefully examine in my own life the values we try to instill in our children and more importantly – why. It is not enough, in my opinion, to state a value without truly understanding the reason behind it and the specific action to associate with it. In my professional and ministry experience, I have found that effective values generally have a statement followed by an action or plan of execution. They are usually associated with a mission, a vision, and operating principles. For example a corporate value statement may read something like, “XYZ Company values strong customer focus through effective communication and customer feedback”. This gives an action and purpose to the value ‘customer focus’. Now that may be a little much for a family, but in the same light our family values should have specific action associated with it. Our church has a value that says “We will do all things with excellence because excellence honors God and inspires others.” The value, excellence, is paired with two actions, in this case, desired results. We all share desired results for our family and children when we talk of values. All that being said, my next post will focus in a bit more on how we are shaping our own values in our family.

  2. It is not enough, in my opinion, to state a value without truly understanding the reason behind it and the specific action to associate with it.

    Amen brother. That is one of the reasons I introduced this exercise. Our hope was to discover the problem areas associated with a given topic and have a broader perspective about how that value could impact life choices and future actions.

    … I have found that effective values generally have a statement followed by an action or plan of execution. This gives an action and purpose to the value … Now that may be a little much for a family, but in the same light our family values should have specific action associated with it. We all share desired results for our family and children when we talk of values. All that being said, my next post will focus in a bit more on how we are shaping our own values in our family. [snipped in places by Jason]

    One of the things I am finding as I work through these values is that there are many desired outcomes from a value. My goal to this point has been to focus on the values and allow the benefits/results to be implied. In a way, these are what Biblical commandments also do. Course, many commandments are more focused on what not-to-do than what to-do.

    What I *think* you are suggesting is a bit like the beatitudes where you have an if > then tie-in. “Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.” I like that approach also, but my concern is that you can’t capture all the benefits or actions in a short statement that a child can memorize and remember. Could you look at the post on obedience and give me an example of what you are thinking. I am open to any ideas you have!

  3. I cannot hope to be as eloquent as you have been, but I told you I would chime in and here I am 6 weeks later. I agree that obedience is an extremely important value and one that we are continually working on with Sam and Elizabeth. One that we are also working on is self discipline. I believe developing self discipline will teach them to monitor their behavior and compare that to God’s standard. We will often as “Are you doing what is right?” I expect them to first understand what they are doing and then compare that to what is right. Or course I have to teach them what is right.

    Jen and I are looking forward to coming to Florida for a visit, even if you are living on the beach in a tent.

    See you soon — John

  4. Self-discipline … I wish I knew more about that one John. HeHe. You may have to write the blog post on that one! But I like it.

    Everyone is welcome to come to West Palm Beach, Florida whenever they would like. We scored a three-bedroom, so y’all can come out and do the air-mattress thing. We are 7-10 minutes from the beach and 25 minutes or so from the northern part of the Everglades (can’t wait to go Gator hunting).

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