Define Your Values: Principles for Parenting #2

Any business or organization that is successful has defined the values that drive their decisions and consistently lives by them. The same idea is true with families and parenting. It took my wife Hillary and I almost five years into parenting to realize that we needed to come up with the values that drove our parenting decisions. We read an excellent book by Patrick Lencioni titled “The Three Questions for a Frantic Family” which caused us to ask some great questions about what it was that made our family unique. For five years, we had just made decisions based on what we thought was right and sometimes these decisions were not wise. These decisions also did not fit together cohesively. After reading The Three Questions for a Frantic Family we decided to discuss and define the values that would drive our parenting and ultimately our family.

Stephen Covey writes, “The ability to subordinate an impulse to a value is the essence of the proactive person. Reactive people are driven by feelings, by circumstances, by conditions, by their environment. Proactive people are driven by values – carefully thought about, selected and internalized values.” As parents it is important to define the values or key ideas that drive our parenting and our families. Some families values safety and security. Others values challenge and risk. There aren’t necessarily right or wrong answers to what we value. The important task is defining our values so that we are proactive instead of reactive based on our feelings or environment.

Lencioni recommends that parents answer the question, “What makes our family unique?” The answer should incorporate the values that make our family unique and inform our parenting decisions. Hillary and I answered the question for our family with the following statement:

We are a laid back family that encourages authenticity, simplicity and infusing our faith into every area of our daily lives. We live within our means so that Hillary can spend time with our daughters and not have to have a job outside the home.

The important values that drive our family are authenticity, simplicity and faith@home. These values drive the decisions that we make as parents and as a family. Authenticity drives our communication in the home. We want our kids to be honest with us about how they feel. Hillary and I are honest with each other about what we struggle with and strive to give honest feedback even when it’s tough to stomach.

Simplicity drives our finances and our approach to stuff. Our move to Illinois two years ago and subsequently back to Colorado has been a big step in simplicity. We live in a small house and keep a tight budget with the goal that Hillary doesn’t have to work just for financial reasons. This will be even harder if I get the new job at Mountair Church. But we are driven by the value of simplicity even if it means we have to give up purchases and luxuries that we enjoy. It is that important to us.

Hillary and I also see ourselves as the main faith investors in our children. We don’t just leave that up to our church. Our goal is to incorporate our faith into everything that we do with our kids. Living out these values is easier said that done yet we strive to become better every day.

What are the values that drive your parenting? What are the values that make your family unique? The first step is defining them with your spouse. The harder step is living by your values. I would highly recommend reading Lencioni’s book “The Three Questions for a Frantic Family” to help you define and live our your values.


Posted on June 22, 2012, in Family Strategies, Principles for Parenting and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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