What do you value? Are you showing your children what is important to your family? Or are you just talking about what your family values? How would your life look if you were living by your values?
I was reading an article online on the topic of values, and how to teach them to your children. It was a beautiful summer evening and I had unsuccessfully been trying to squeeze in a moment of time to check email and catch up all day between trips to the park, lunch, fixing a swing, running the dog, talking to my mother in law, laundry, dishes, you name it. It struck me. I say I value time with my kids and here I was in the house at the computer while they were playing outside before bedtime. So I shut the computer immediately and went outside to play. We took the entire dinosaur collection for a swim in the wading pool, played chase, tickle monster, and had popsicles.
My two year old slept through the night for the first time in months. My 6 year old read a book to himself while I put her to bed.
How do you live your values? Are you preaching to your kids about the importance of less screen time while seated at your computer? Are you promoting fresh fruits and vegetables while you eat donuts after they go to bed? My 6 year old has begin to catch me in my incongruencies. “But Mom, why do you and Daddy get to watch TV on school nights?”
Here is a simple one I frequently catch myself in: “Sit down while you are eating. Don’t walk around the house with food. If you leave the table you must be done eating” (all this from me, the queen of multi tasking while kitchen counter grazing.) I am on a new mission to sit down while eating, sit at our newly cleared dining room table, now released from piles of papers and twelve sets of star wars lego creations.
What can you do? Identify what is important for you to model for your kids. Does your family value reading before bed? Time for prayer or gratitude? Time laughing as a family? Getting back to nature?
It is easy to verbalize our values, a bit harder to commit to acting on them. Take a minute today, and identify what you tell your kids that you and the family value, and then imagine how it would look if you were SHOWING them what you value. Some examples are practicing common courtesy; saying please and thank you, using respectful voice tones, demonstrating patience, validating each others feelings, and respecting each others boundaries.
Envision yourself living your values, showing your children through your actions rather then lecturing to them.