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Passing values on to your children, Part 2

January 28th, 2009

In yesterday’s post, I covered Part 1 of a reader’s question, “How do I pass our values on our children?”

Here are some more practical tips on how to pass our values on to our children:

1. Have good reasons for your stand.

“Why is it wrong to have sex before marriage? A lot of people do it.” “What’s wrong with underage drinking? It’s just an arbitrary age limit.”

If your answer to these questions is “Because I say so”, it’s not going to cut it.

Our pop culture is often not practicing the values that agree with what you teach your children at home. Intentional or not, the media (TV, movies, music, internet) as well as the schools (teachers, peers, literature books, textbooks) have a very strong influence on our children’s thinking.

We cannot assume that our children will “automatically” understand and embrace our value system. Be ready to defend your views and explain your beliefs in a logical way.

I admit I find it hard to explain my values because I’ve lived with them for so long. It’s ingrained into me. To help me put those intangibles into words, I’ve found a lot of help from resources on the internet. There are many conservative voices who articulate my traditional values better than I can.

I suggest you find books and websites that resonate with you, and use them to help you answer your children’s questions.

2. Engage your children in discussions of right and wrong.

“Why do you think some of your friends are so interested in dating in the 6th grade?” “Why do you think kids take drugs even though they know it’s bad for them?” “Do you know if people in your class cheated on the test?”

Don’t expect our children to bring up issues for discussion. But you can bet that they are being confronted with those concerns.

We should take the proactive approach and initiate conversations with your children about important values that they need to know. Ask questions; find out what they are hearing from their friends; get a better understanding of the dilemmas they face. When you put the topic on the table, it gives you a chance to teach your children your beliefs.

3. Read, watch, and listen to what your children read, watch and listen to.

Whatever my children are reading, my husband or I read along – textbooks, literature books, popular books (my husband read the Twilight series 🙂 ). We watch whatever they are watching on YouTube, and listen to the music they downloaded onto their iPods.

This gives us a way to do #2 above, and open up many opportunities to teach our children our values.

4. Use parables and stories to teach.

“The moral of the story is…”

Aesop’s Fables is a classic way to teach values. Through good stories that engages our mind and emotions, we can teach our children values and lessons much more effectively than a lecture.

Classics such as A Christmas Carol, fairy tales such as Cinderalla, and short parables such as the greedy monkey and the jar teach deeper concepts that are hard to explain with mere words. When reading with your children together, talk about the good and bad of the characters and how it relates to real life.

Your own life stories has a lot of power to instruct our children also. Tell your children about your childhood, about your own parents, admitting your mistakes, as well as telling them of your achievements makes values come alive in a way that our children will remember.

5. Live an optimistic joyful life.

If we live like martyrs, our values come across like medicine – it tastes bad but it’s good for you.  That’s not very compelling for our children to want to live that way.

Our life is the best testimony of why our children should adopt our values. When we exhibit contentment and optimism, we teach our children that living out traditional values is the best way to live.

We want to always stress the advantages of following our good values. For example: A commitment to abstain from sex before marriage is not taking away the fun. It will only make marriage better later on. Telling the truth frees your conscience so you don’t have to live with guilt and oppression.

A caveat here about passing values on to our children: Even the seemingly best parents may still have children who rebel against their parent’s values. Remember that children are human being with volition. Our job is to give them proper guidance and love, and pray that they make good choices.

Read all 3 Parts of Passing values on to your children

Photo by Brian Forbe

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  1. […] In answer to a reader’s question, “How do I pass our values on our children?”, I posted Part 1 and Part 2. […]


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