Teaching Children Family Values and Going Beyond ‘Because I Said So’

Defining and declaring your values and beliefs is one thing. Actually teaching children family values is a completely different animal.

When Dale and I defined what we believed in through our family values, we started developing a family culture built around those values. The values we established were not new. We didn’t reinvent the wheel. It was simply taking the morals and values Dale and I had from our childhoods and fitting it into what we wanted for our family.

I really liked this and so did the kids. But, initially, we probably went a little overboard. It was just like in my classroom with my students — if you just focus on the problems or failures ALL THE TIME, kids will turn you off and not listen.

Teaching children family values is a process. It’s not an easy task, it’s a long, complicated journey.

Family Values

Teaching Children Family Values

When I was a kid, my stepfather would always just say, “because I said so,” and there was no questioning his authority. And early on, I sometimes found myself getting annoyed with my children questioning me, and I would say, “You know what? It doesn’t really matter why we need to do this. I asked you to do this, and you’re going to do it.”

That’s when we realized the need to “give them the why.” When you embrace their questions and provide clarity to the reasons why you’re asking them to act or behave a certain way, teaching children family values becomes much easier.

For instance, we were constantly telling our children not to leave their toys outside in the winter. But they weren’t listening and we couldn’t figure out why they weren’t taking responsibility for their belongings. Then one day Dale said to them, “Mom keeps telling me you won’t pick up your toys in the backyard. Guess what’s supposed to happen this week? It’s going to snow. Would you want the toys to get ruined or lost until next year? Nope … so I guess you should pick up the toys.”

At that moment, the lightbulbs went off in their heads. We didn’t dictate, we gave them the why. From there, getting our children to buy into and live our family values wasn’t so difficult. Over time, the questions eased up and the kids would actually think before they did something — they were responding, not reacting.

Teaching children family values doesn’t have to be a chore. Download these Discussion Guides to get started, and stop saying “because I said so,” and start “giving them the why.”

Author: Monica Vernon
Monica, a middle school teacher, wife, and professed imperfect mother of three children, is co-author of How Imperfect Parents Lead Great Families. She juggles the daily life of working full time and managing the household while supporting a hard working husband.
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