What do your kids value?

2010-01-28 00:00

IF your kids reject your values, are they rejecting you? “I don’t want to go to church anymore” or “I’m more interested in making money than helping people!” Hearing your children say things that clash with your core values can be painful and frightening. We want our children to grow up to be honest, hard-working successful adults and when they appear no longer to follow our lead it can be infuriating, because we do know what’s best for them, don’t we?

The importance of values

A personal value is anything that we place value on. You may value honesty, love, integrity, hard work, family time and going to church, for example. Having strong values is extremely important because not only does it help us make decisions in life, it also sends a very clear message about who we are.

All responsible parents teach their children their fundamental values. Children learn most of their values at home. They will look to you as their role model, especially when they are young. As they mature into adolescence, however, friends, TV, books and the Internet also play a role in their choice of values. This means that some values they learn in the outside world may conflict with what they have been taught by you.

Your child has his or her own unique personality and this means he or she will place greater value on things that you may not.

Respecting the differences

As hard as it may be to accept, as our children start maturing into adults, they are going to make some choices we don’t agree with.

It is important to respect the differences where you can and not force them to live your values on every count. Encouraging them to live according to what’s important to them is a crucial part of helping them gain their independence. But you do still need to insist on some core values.

Which values need to be enforced?

As long as your children are living in your home, they will need to understand that there are certain rules and values that they don’t have a choice over. Explain to your children that you respect their values and you expect them to respect yours. There are times when you are prepared to compromise, but when it comes to some fundamental values you will need to stand strong. There will need to be consequences if these values are not met.

The values that you may need to let go

Older children, particularly teenagers, are on a quest for their own identity and independence. They may find some of your values old-fashioned or too rigid for their lifestyle.

Research has shown that parents who allow for no individuality in some minor areas, such as dress code, may actually challenge their teens to test them in areas that are of much greater consequence.

Here are other areas where you may need to loosen the reins:

• extra-mural activity choices;

• room décor;

• hair colour and style (within school rules); and

• subject choices.

As your teen approaches adulthood, the compromises get even more difficult:

• choice of friends;

• choice of religion; and

• choice of career.

The hardest part of being a parent is learning to let go. With young children the rules are more rigid and you need to discipline wrong choices. As they grow older, however, you will need to start compromising on certain rules and values so that they can find their own identity. Watching your child become an adult is beautiful, difficult, amazing and scary all at the same time.

— Parent 24.com

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