Raising kids is hard work. We want them to grow up to be successful and happy adults. That happiness and success starts with us and what we instill in them. Their values will become part of the core of their character.
We’ve worked hard in our household to try to establish some values that will become part of the core of a good character. At one point these were posted in our kitchen as our “Family Morals,” but regardless, there are 7 lessons I want to instill in my children:
- Work Hard to Gain What you Want: In this
world of debt and entitlement, it’s easy for adults, not to mention children, to lose sight of this. I want my children to realize that it’s okay to want something, but you have to work to get it.
How we Practice This Skill: The kids know that they don’t really get any extra toys or items apart from their birthday and holidays in our house. That has led to peace in the store because we aren’t going to be buying a lot of extras. If they want something, they need to earn it. Whether that is from a behavior chart or extra chores, we want them to know that it’s okay to want, but that wanting without work, won’t reap you the reward you seek.
- The most admirable thing you can do is be honest. Do people make mistakes? YES! But the best thing you can do is to be honest about those mistakes. Piling on the lies only makes it worse. People respect honesty, and honesty shows true integrity. Is it sometimes hard to be honest? Of course! But you will gain much more respect and have a stronger character because of this.
How we Practice This Skill: First we do our best to be open and honest as adults in the house. Second, we praise them for honesty. When someone “comes clean” we always make sure to thank their honesty. It doesn’t always save them from the trouble of whatever it was they were covering up, but everyone in the house knows that honesty is valued.
- Commitment. Commitment is so important to a successful adult. When you say you are going to do something, or be part of something, you need to follow through. Whether this is your commitment to school (AKA later in life, your job), a sport, or anything you say you are doing to do, you need to follow through. Children that follow through on what they say they are going to do, grow to be adults you can count on.
How we Practice This Skill: We help our children to honor commitments. Whether it is going to school or making it to practice, we discuss how someone is counting on them and they need to attend. Even today Avery had a stomach ache as she headed off to track practice. She is at the point that she doesn’t ask to stay home, but I did say to her, “your coach will respect that you showed up and are committed. You can ask to sit out, but I’m proud that you are still attending.” We have had other practices in commitment such as signing up for a race and all following through to the finish line. We want to be a family who says they are doing something, and then does it!
- Education is the key to your success and happiness. This value shouldn’t come as a surprise in our house. When your “Victory Mom” is a teacher, education is bound to be important. In our house we celebrate learning and have lots of talks about how knowledge is the key to open doors as you get older.
How we Practice This Skill: A heavy emphasis is placed on education. We value and reward a job well done. We model and have talks with the kids about how education has helped us to get where we are and how the kids will go farther with a strong education. We sit down whenever they ask to learn something, as well as doing family book clubs.
5. Experiences will trump materials items any day. We started instilling this at a young age. When it’s our year for birthday pparties we would ask, “would you like a party and gifts…or would you like to go somewhere and have an experience?”
Think back to your own holidays. Do you remember the new sweater or item you received? You may remember a sentimental gift, but many of the items are quickly forgotten. Now– can you remember a special time you spent with your family? Can you remember that great vacation or day together? Of course you can! That’s the lesson we try to teach at our house. American homes are sagging with “stuff” but people aren’t happy. That’s because materialistic stuff doesn’t make you happy. I read the book,The Happiness Hypothesis, wherein, research shows more money or bigger and better stuff doesn’t lead to happiness. This is because you get used to the stuff and then you need bigger and more to become happy again. I want my kids to grow up happy and to be able to find happiness from things that occur outside of a shopping trip.
How we Practice This Skill: We offer the kids choices between material items or an experience during some holidays. We model this in our own behavior. For the last two years my husband and I have done something together instead of getting each other gifts at holidays. We share moments doing things as a family and highlight the joy it brings over going to the store to buy something.