‘I’m more interested in making money than helping people!’
Hearing your kids 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 to no longer 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. Things like, ‘Always tell the truth’ and ‘Take responsibility for your actions.’ 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. For example, your child may love drama class while you want him to excel in accounting (which he hates).
Respecting the differences
As hard as it may be to accept, as our children become more of themselves and 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, and this is a very big BUT, you do still need to insist on some core values.
Which values need to be enforced
As long as your child is living in your home he will need to understand that there are certain rules and values that he doesn't have a choice over. For example: respecting you as a parent, adhering to curfews and not taking drugs.
You can explain to your child 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 current lifestyle. This isn't an unhealthy shift and they do need to develop their own convictions about life.
Research has shown that parents who allow for no individuality in some minor areas such as dress code, may actually challenge their teen to test them in areas that are of much greater consequence.
Here are other areas you may need to loosen the reigns:
- extra-mural activity choices
- room décor
- hair colour and style (within school rules)
- subject choices
As your teen approaches adulthood, the compromises get even more difficult:
- choice of friends
- choice of religion
- 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.
Which values are non-negotiable in your home?