When we talk about “family values,” most people tend to think in one of several directions.

  • Politics – We think about the hot topics being covered by the news cycle like reproductive rights and abortion, human sexuality and the definition of marriage, or legalized vices like gambling.
  • Culture – We think about Hollywood and what kind of lifestyles might be glorified in movies, on television, in music, or in video games.
  • Traditions – We think about our patriotism, pride in a particular cultural heritage, work ethic, and religion.

When we minimize family values to refer to political issues, we usually wind up talking about our values in an us-versus-them frame of mind. We start thinking that “we” (within institutional Christianity) have family values while “they” (those who are not affiliate with institutional Christianity) do not have family values.

And anytime we make family values all about the rules we keep, the roles each family member fills, or the rituals and traditions we hold dear, we miss an opportunity to see family values as valuing the right things, as a family unit. We usually wind up with way more do NOT values than do values.

Above our fireplace at home hangs a piece of word art that reads…

In this family…
We do second chances.
We do grace.
We do real.
We do prayers.
We do mistakes.
We do I’m sorrys.
We do loud really well.
We do hugs.
We do family.
We do love.

It’s a continual reminder, hanging over the place where we often share evening meals, that we DO certain things because we value them.

When it comes to determining what your family values, there are some important questions to consider…

  • Do our actions, generally speaking, line up with what we say we value?
  • What do we want our kids to remember about their childhood ten years into their own adulthood?
  • What are the values that are non-negotiable (as in, we couldn’t live without them)?
  • Can our values be used as guardrails for decision making?
  • Would people who observe our family say that they see our values in action?

When you value something, it means you make it important. It has weight and influence. It’s something you think about as you live in the day-to-day.

The values you share, if written and articulated, can shape the culture of your home for the good of every family member. That’s the real goal – to hold onto the right values for the long haul and let anything that competes with those values fall away.

So, what does your family value?

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