To continue the recent blog post about values, this is well-timed. I recently attended a Parent Encouragement Program “Food For Thought, Because Parenting Matters” event about values. The presenter, Tory Joseph, is PEP’s current Board President and a Mom Since 1988 (MS’88), and she had lots of great insight into why values matter, and how to instill them. With Tory’s permission, I happily share some of her wisdom here from the program, “Instilling Your Family Values in Today’s Consumer Culture.”

First, she shared the hazards of overindulgence, and detailed the issues this can cause children, including troubles learning how to delay gratification and issues relating to others. Overindulgence, Tory shared, comes in several flavors, including giving kids too much, over-nurturing, and not providing enough structure. Good examples of providing structure in a positive way are chores, limits (“firm & friendly,” the PEP motto), and logical consequences.

Tory also talked about freedom and how/when to dispense. She wisely explained that freedom needs to match maturity & judgement, and that too much too soon is scary for children. She suggested granting freedom in a gradual manner.

The next part of the program focused on instilling values. This, she said, could be a multi-week class unto itself, but she provided some big picture ideas that were fabulous. She stressed the importance of values coming from the parents before peer pressure takes hold. Values are very personal, but if you and your spouse sit down and make a conscious effort to define and then instill these values, you’ll be on the right track.

Her list of important values for children included the following:

  • Independent thinking
  • Courage
  • Honesty
  • Respect
  • Humility
  • Service to Others
  • Responsibility and Moral Decision Making

I want to share Tory’s anecdotes/illustrations on a couple of the values listed. It helps to explain the concept, and I loved the way she explained these two in particular. For humility (what a big task!), she suggested initiating a conversation about what you’re grateful for. I love this! Get the kids to verbalize what they’re thankful for, and it helps them to understand how fortunate they are, regardless of how much or little they have.

The 6th value listed above, “service to others,” is another I’d like to elaborate on. The philosophy that PEP is based upon is that of famed Psychologist Alfred Adler. According to Tory, Mr. Adler found that doing something nice for someone every day was extremely powerful. In fact, he prescribed this to patients to survive depression! Wow! I love that – and we all know how great it feels to do good deeds for other. The gift of giving is wrapped with a big bow in terms of satisfaction on both ends, and I think that teaching our kids this valuable life skill is important.

Tory referenced some great books for further reading, including How Much is Enough, Positive Discipline, Raising Good Children from Birth Through the Teenage Years, and Setting Limits.

What creative ideas do you have for helping kids to develop & maintain strong values?