Last week we had one of those rare family gatherings – my mum came over and we all sat around the kitchen table chatting for the afternoon. These kinds of moments are harder and harder to find, as my kids get older and more independent.
My mum, who is a retired teacher, never passes up the opportunity to impart her pearls of wisdom. These “chats” mainly centre around academic and professional decisions my children may make but can venture into contentious subjects like religion and even romantic choices!
As my mum held court, it was a bit of a flashback to my own teenage years and highlighted to me that so much of our own upbringing shapes how we parent our own children. There are beliefs and values that we staunchly stand by and some that we turn our backs on as we get older, as they no longer serve us.
As my children step into adulthood, I, of course, have hopes and aspirations for them, I want them to make the most of any opportunity that comes their way and rise to the challenges they may face. I want them live life as vibrantly as possible. But, I feel their values, principles and the way in which they live their lives are more important than what they achieve.
I have thought long and hard about this, and have tried to whittle down a huge list of values to just five.
Here are the key values I feel my daughter and son have, and hope they always will:
- Kindness. To me, this is possibly the one of the most important things in life. Being generous, friendly and warm-hearted. Treating people with respect and focussing on doing good rather than harm.
- Compassion. An emotional response of sympathy and having a desire to help someone who is suffering – my kids are particularly good at being compassionate.
- Forgiveness. I toyed with loyalty here. But I feel loyalty is a quality that is more freely acquired and forgiveness is much harder to nurture. I know I still struggle with forgiveness sometimes.
- Integrity. Being honest and having strong moral principles – none of us are squeaky clean, but striving to have integrity and being true to your principles is a great way to live your life, in my opinion.
- Courage. I thought about bravery for the last key value but bravery is more about the ability to confront pain or danger without any feeling of fear. But there are times when we are all scared. I want my children to have courage – to be able to undertake difficulty or pain despite the sometimes, unavoidable presence of fear.
So what are your thoughts? Have I missed an important value in your opinion? If you are a parent, what values do you hope to instill in your children? And if you’re not a parent – what are your core values and what values do you appreciate most in a friend or loved one?