Craft your Family's Core Values for Closer Connections
In this article, we'll discuss:
Positive, productive core values aren’t just for the workplace. Crafting your family's core values will help you create deeper connections with each other, support each other in times of crisis, and make decisions that align with your goals. Shared values will assure your family continues to learn and grow on the same path over many years.
Creating your core values isn’t complicated and can even be fun! Get started here with a little background on core values and practical steps for making a meaningful list of core values that you’ll cherish for years.
Types of Values
Start brainstorming your core values by talking about the different types of values you could incorporate in your list. Pick the types of values that best align with your long-term goals. Here are some you may consider, but don’t feel limited by these examples.
Social values address the kind of society we’d like to live in. They address themes like world peace, social justice, racial and economic equality, and bettering our communities. Examples include:
- Standing up for oppressed people
- Volunteering your time and skills in the community
- Being generous with what you have
Your political affiliation probably affects how you’d like to see the government-run and the kinds of laws you’d like to see enacted. For a family, political values may also include:
- Following the law and respecting those who enforce it
- Supporting our troops overseas
- Voting in all elections
Financial values help determine how you budget and spend money. Consider how values like these play into your goals.
- Long-term financial security
- Investing in education
- Giving to charitable organizations that align with our goals
Self-care and personal well-being are important values that should be considered when drafting core values for your family. They may include:
- Eating foods that are good for our bodies
- Exercising regularly
- Keeping our home clean and sanitary
Having fun together creates family closeness, builds memories, contributes to emotional well-being, and provides learning opportunities. Each family plays differently based on their values. Yours may include:
- Spending time in nature
- Taking family vacations
- Attending live performances
Work values are about how you perform your chores, your jobs, and how you participate in your education. Examples of work values include:
- Always putting your best effort forward
- Working at a job you enjoy
- Striving to increase responsibility and/or earning in the workplace
Moral values are what you think is right and wrong. Examples of moral values include:
- Telling the truth
- Being kind to others
- Owning your mistakes and learning from them
Additional types of values include:
Making your Family’s List of Core Values
Working as a family to come up with a list of core values is a great opportunity to learn more about each other and understand each member’s personal goals. Plan to have several meetings that tackle different values - and always have them in a fun, supportive environment!
As in any brainstorming exercise, there are no bad ideas, and all voices should be heard equally.
Understanding your Family
Start with a discussion about what is important to your family and each individual member. Take notes on a whiteboard. You can assign a “scribe” to write, or you can pass the marker around to each member, depending on age.
Some questions to get you started include:
- What do we enjoy doing? What do we dislike?
- What are our strengths as a family? What do we want to do better?
- What do we want to achieve in 5 years? In 10 years?
- How do we want to be known in the community?
Be sure to take a photo of your whiteboard before erasing it so you can refer to these ideas in the following sessions, and take a break after this meeting. Give everyone a week or so to reflect on this conversation before meeting again.
Over the course of several family meetings, brainstorm values associated with different types of values.
- For each type of value, encourage each family member to come up with 3-5 values.
- Give each family member a stack of mcSquares Stickie Notes to write their ideas on.
- Stick the values on the whiteboard, sorting, and grouping by similarities.
- Vote on the values by making a dot with a marker. Each member should vote for their top 3 choices.
- Based on voting results, identify your family’s top 3-5 choices for each type of value.
The Final Cut
- Take all your top core values and narrow it down to your top 7-10 by using the dot exercise.
- Create a list that you can proudly display somewhere the family will see every day.
- When making difficult decisions, refer to the list. Weigh your options with your core values in mind.
- Revisit your list every year. Have your priorities shifted? That’s normal! Adjust the list so it stays relevant.
Sample Family Core Values List
Every family’s list of core values will vary. Here’s one example we like:
As your family grows, so will your core values. Allow for change as your children grow older, as your priorities shift, and as the world around you evolves. Your family will be closer and more goal-oriented as a result!