BY DR. ANDREA PURCELL
Looking back across time, in the decades and centuries that have come before us, we realize that families have always strived to function as a unit according to core values, spoken and unspoken. There were rules and expectations for parents and children alike. There was a cohesiveness within social norms and family life that helped set those standards. Life, it seems, was slower, easier to understand and navigate. That was then.
And this is now: In our digital nano-second, twenty-first century world, families are confronted with myriad lifestyle choices, bombarded by mass media messaging, and exposed to the troubles of a global world. Combined with radically different demands at work, school, and in relationships, families are struggling to establish a sense of unity, to identify themselves and their place in the world. Defining and aligning core values as a family is one way to promote harmony and stability, which bolsters the family, individually and collectively.
What are Family Core Values and Why Define Them?
Values…you may hear this word used at work, in a spiritual or religious context, and in other types of organizations. Simply stated, a value confers the degree to which something is of importance to an individual, a group, or an organization and which actions help live out that belief. Defining core values as a family inspires action, guides decision making, strengthens communication, and builds trust for the family unit and its individual members. Core values set the stage for how to respect and be respected and can be a source for the grit necessary to persevere through challenges.
Children are keen observers of adult behavior, especially their parents. In some cultures, children will question if the “things you’ve been teaching them” align with the behavior and words used by the adults in their lives. If you profess “family time is my top priority,” but you always miss family plans for career obligations, then your value – family time- is not aligned with your actions. Children see that hypocrisy and respond accordingly. Usually, this creates discord–arguments and hard feelings–between family members. In other circumstances, you may very well align your values and actions, but a child rebels against those values. In other cultures, values may play a more dominant role and questioning and rebelling against them is not acceptable. They may do so at a later time, or not at all- carrying those values with them into the next generation. Even as there are cultural differences in family values, and different values held among families in the same culture, research indicates that families who align their actions and behaviors with their values are more resilient and experience greater harmony at home.
Benefits of Aligning Family Core Values
When you sit down together as a family to discuss your values, you are creating a road map that will guide and support the family for the present moment, and as you grow and change together. Consider these benefits of aligning family core values:
- *Providing family members with a way to view the world and situations they encounter.
- *Helping to establish emotional and behavioral expectations and accountability for each other. “This is what matters most to all of us. This is what we will fall back on when confronted with tough decisions, uncertainty, and so forth.”
- *Providing a family identity and helping each member shape their own identity in a positive, self-affirming way.
- *Strengthening family ties through guidance, affection, and support. By bolstering esteem within and between family members, family values serve as a source that family members can draw upon to make decisions and can protect children from decision making that could be hurtful, physically or psychologically.
- *Kids arguing? Parents not seeing eye-to-eye? Trouble with a personal decision that has implications for family life? Refer to your family values so that you can be proactive and responsive, instead of reactive and distressed when faced with difficult situations.
Examples of Family Core Values
Below is a short list of the types of core values that your family can consider and define for themselves. Before choosing, really think about the meanings of each word and then what the word means to your family members.
With so much Love,
P.S. Here’s a new recipe to try, perhaps to try and make together as a family 😉
Vegan No-Bake Carrot Cake Truffles
Experience the nutty sweetness of carrot cake in a healthy, bite-size truffle. In this recipe, bound to be a favorite at your holiday gatherings, walnuts and pecans provide healthy fat, while carrots, coconut flakes, and medjool dates provide nutrient density. Cinnamon and nutmeg top off the autumn notes while ginger adds zing.
Prep Time 10 Mins
Total Time 40 Mins
Serves 12 (serving size: 2 truffles)
- 1 cup raw unsalted walnut halves
- 1 cup raw, unsalted pecans
- 1 cup pitted medjool dates
- 1/2 cup dried unsweetened pineapple
- 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut, plus extra for coating (if desired)
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 1/2 cups finely shredded carrots
Place walnuts, pecans, dates, and pineapple in a high-power food processor. Process until almost paste-like. Add coconut, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt. Process until combined. Turn the mixture out into a bowl.
Use a paper towel to blot excess water from carrots. Add carrots to the mixture and combine. Form mixture into 24 round truffles; roll in shredded coconut flakes to coat, if desired. Chill until firm, about 30 minutes.
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