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Live life with your Kids - Issue 224
November 04, 2011
Hi there! ....

This week we have studied, processed boxes of mangoes for the freezer, baked, had extra Co-op activities and worked with a church based project. Life has been busy. One thing that has struck Peter and I this week in particular is that our children are now a part of our team. Sure there are still many ways that we are training them and they still have a lot to learn but there are other areas where we work together as a team. This week has had a couple of service opportunities and it is no longer just Peter and I doing things in the community or church community but rather it is more a case of a whole family effort. Sometimes the kids are up front, like the girls working with the Mainly Music team or Josh on the sound desk at church, other times they are behind the scene, like getting the house ready for a Mum’s group, and other times they are in there with us, like running a kids club/babysitting while we run a workshop. It is a delight to have my children work in God’s kingdom beside me. I reflect back on the training years and know it was worth it. I encourage you today to involve your kids in your activities, to help them see your heart for people, to give them opportunities to serve.

Live life with your kids!

If you are an Australian reader I would appreciate you reading this special request.

Passing on your Values

One day I was trying to understand a lecture I had heard about the difference between values and virtues. I had heard it a few times and was still not seeing the difference. In fact I thought we were splitting hairs. Then a friend explained it to me as she understood it:

She is Malaysian and her husband is Australian. They both believe in the virtue of Truth. And yet to her, being Malaysian (this is her words) everything is negotiable – even truth. And to her husband truth is truth – no greys. They both have the virtue of truth and yet they place different values on it.

It started to make sense to me.

As I thought this through I realised that this isn’t an inter-cultural marriage issue because Peter and I also have this conflict. We both believe in the virtue of work and being responsible. And yet should someone come and visit me I will set aside my work and enjoy the visit whereas Peter would rather finish the task first. We both agree work is an important virtue and yet we place a different value on it.

Then I thought – this actually describes what is going on in my house at the moment. Daniel and I both understand and believe that obedience is important. Obedience is a virtue and yet Daniel believes that he can negotiate – we have a different value on obedience. Isn’t that true for all our conflicts with our kids – especially our teens!! We have the same virtue in our heart and yet we place a different value on it in our life.

Therefore passing on our values means that our children place the same value you do on those virtues that you are teaching them.

In order to pass on your values to your children you need to:

  • Define them
  • Live them
  • Teach them
  • Practice them
  • Celebrate them

Define your Values
Before we can teach anything to our children we have to understand things ourselves. We have to first of all, know the virtues we hold dear and then how we are going to interact with those virtues determines our values. What value do you put on punctuality, tidiness, resourcefulness, obedience, kindness, generosity etc.

Many years ago Peter and I spent a day working out what we wanted our family to look like. We ended up with our family vision statement and though we didn’t use the words values making such a statement in itself, declares what our values are. It says – these things are important to our family.

Live your Values
Values are caught not taught – in the sense that our children will learn far more from your example then they will from anything that you tell them. We may not realise it, but we actually explain our values to our children every time we make a decision – every decision about how we use our time, our attitude to people or things, our efforts, our passions and our priorities all tell our kids something about what we value and to what degree.

One of the motivational speakers (I can’t remember which one) has said, if you show me your diary for a week I will tell you where your priorities are. Well “our priorities” is another word for our values. The things we find important are the things we’ll spend our time, our money, our energies and focus on. When we do that it is giving that ‘whatever’ a high value. We may give a high value to work, or to community commitments. Nothing will get in the way of that commitment. Do we place that same value on our relationship with our kids? And yet we say our family is the most important thing.

We need to make sure that our actions line up with what is in our heart. For it is our actions that will teach our children.

Teach our Values
Though I believe 100% that our values are more about the living example we are I also believe that our words can have an impact on our children’s lives. I heard someone say the other day that the person who tells the stories defines the culture. Our family is like a sub-culture and if you tell stories you will begin to build and define your family. Those stories have lasting impact.

Stories can be the ol’ ‘when I was a lad’ type of story and these are significant. They connect one generation with the next, they describe to the younger generation how to live out your life holding on to a particular virtue. How did you handle being betrayed by your friend? How did you cope with not belonging to the in-crowd? What did you do when your friends had more money than you did? These stories, though they teach the virtues of forgiveness, contentment and thriftiness, they also show that it is possible to live in accordance to those virtues. This will give hope to the younger generation that they too can hold to that value because they have seen or heard what it looks like.

Another type of ‘story’ would be more the instructional – more teaching and yet never forgetting our relational connection. Never speaking down to our children in a lecturing type of way but rather pulling them close and saying – let me tell you a secret – a secret to my life.

Practice your Values
Or rather – let your children practice living your values. One day they are going to have to decide what value they place on particular virtues. Will they be totally honest, or will they let things slide? Will they put in the extra effort or will they do just enough to get by? Will they use their time wisely or will they party their youth away? We cannot make these decisions for our kids – they have to make these choices themselves. Our role is to help them be comfortable with the values that we hold. This is why we involve them in our life and we teach them the wisdom that we have learnt from our years. But ultimately we need to let them decide (and I’m talking upper teens here).

So while we have influence in their life we can create opportunity for them to practice living according to our values. We can expect them to be obedient, respectful and orderly. We can give them strategies to help them along the way. If we do this – especially if we start when they are young, these things will become a habit – living according to your values will be ingrained in them so that when their values are challenged it is harder to make a decision to walk away from what has become normal to them. This will be the time you know your children have your values.

Celebrate your values
When our child makes a decision for character they are placing a high value on that virtue and it is time to celebrate. We need to recognise that choosing to walk with character is a tough decision – it is counter to our natural being, it is often counter to what peers are doing. And yet, like I have already said, if your children choose to do things in keeping with your values then you know you have passed your values onto your child. This is indeed worth celebrating.

We often use the word heart and the phrase “capture your child’s heart” and in a sense this is simply another way of saying “passing on your values”. If they hold to your values, if they want to live with virtue the way you do, then you have captured their heart. Their beliefs, passions and inclinations are in keeping with yours, undergirded by the same virtues that you have built your life upon. And that is our job of passing on our values.

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Until next week

Belinda Letchford
Living life with her kids in Australia!

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About Live Life with your kids Newsletter I know homeschool mums are busy with lots to read, so I have divided my newsletter into four sections and you will receive one section a week; short but regular newsletters!
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