Reflections on Core Values

September 29, 2016


I received this post from The Paterson Center. It was written by Laura Brasov. If you are a parent of a young children this will be worth your time to read.

Reflections on Core Values

Let me preface this story with a parenting philosophy that I completely share with my husband Adiel: we were GREAT parents…especially before we had kids.

However, we did have kids: three of them, all boys. Despite our best intentions, they have grown up now to be teenagers and a pre-teen.  And now, in full disclosure and deep humility, we realize how much we do NOT know about parenting.

Yet we are committed to learning and growing.  Which is how we stumbled across a parenting manual entitled, appropriately, “Should I Just Smash My Kid’s Phone?” by Doug Fields and Jonathan McKee. The authors talk about parenting to core values – versus parenting to the rules – during the teenage years. This approach resonated with us, especially as LifePlan Facilitators. If our core values dictate how we live life as individuals, why not determine those values which also allow our family to flourish?

So in the summer of 2013, Adiel and I arrived at a short list of family core values to brainstorm through with our three boys. We came up with five family core values that have since guided many family conversations, decisions and actions. The family values acronym we arrived at (mainly so that our youngest could remember all five) was HUGIA: honor, uniqueness, generosity, intentionality and adventure.

Honor is a key value for our family. We want to live in a manner that reflects God’s inherent holiness, His incredible declaration that we are each worthy, and the unconditional love He extends to those around us. In our family, honor now provides the foundation for our discussions revolving dating, curfews and healthy boundaries. Our core value of honor has also been known to challenge us, for example in a recent discussion: “How did hitting your brother correlate with our family core value of honor?” (Sigh…)  We are learning that honor translates into treating God with dignity and integrity; it looks like valuing ourselves, because God finds us each worthy; it is found in the respect and love we extend to others, both to the lovable and the not-so-loveable.

Uniqueness as a core value flows out of our work as LifePlan facilitators as well as recognizing how similar, and different, our three boys are.  This core value has guided us to understand how to give our introverted boy the tools and space to retreat in a healthy way from the chaotic noise of family and friends, and it has played into real discussions of resisting peer-pressure on such lovely topics as drinking, sex and drugs (thank you, Colorado!).  As the only woman in this male-filled house, our value of uniqueness has personally reminded me to avert my eyes from the many zany boy-things that affront my female sensibilities, such as attempting jumps with motorized vehicles or shooting weapons of any kind beyond soft nerf guns. We truly believe that each of us is an amazing expression of God’s highest creativity and we want to seek to build into that perspective.

Generosity is the value that originally did not make our short list, but one that the kids valiantly and eloquently put forth. The boys’ thinking was that our family is guided by generosity: not just with our finances, but with our hospitality, things, time, love, experience and giftedness.  Since then,  generosity as a core value has inspired some family vacations (we recently led a team from our church and taught English to college students in Albania for a week) and it has guided a recent conversation with my boys on why I would choose to facilitate a LifePlan for a woman who is at death’s door.  Our value of generosity prompts my children to often have the entire neighborhood over, and who – contrary to what they tell me – are not just playing ping-pong, but actually wrecking physical havoc, in my basement; generosity prompts me to still bake them brownies every time. As a core value, generosity compels us as a family to be more aware, less selfish, and deeply fulfilled.

Intentionality is the foundation to our desire that our family is a safe place to cultivate dreams, take risks, learn forgiveness, and grow in freedom for kids and grown-ups alike. Consequently, as our oldest entered high school two summers ago, intentionality directed Adiel and I to an honest Four Helpful List review of our parenting, exposing some strengths and gaps. Last fall, for instance, our core value of intentionality directed our decision to take our kids through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace home school curriculum every Sunday night to deepen our family understanding of finances (a gap).  Intentionality also popped up last week in the midst of a heated conversation with a hormonal teenager when he was able to calmly point out truth, catching me completely off guard but making me insanely proud of how my boys are reflecting the emotionally healthy tools that we as parents are learning and attempting to model. We are discovering that intentionality breeds meaning, purpose and strength of character throughout our family system.

Adventure: as a family filled with lots of testosterone and wanderlust, this core value captures us completely.  Years ago, adventure motivated us to backpack across Europe with three kids under the age of 10, and led to this past summer’s overseas exploration across 3 continents in 5 weeks.  Our core value of adventure invites us stop the car to have a random snow ball fight, adds mischievousness when picking up friends at the airport in Winnie-the-Pooh costumes, and reminds us that our kids will still get into college even if they miss completing a small assignment because we choose instead to go to the local ice cream store together.  Our family has learned that adventure lends itself to mistakes, failures, and hardships but it also affords us opportunities to learn, grow, and thrive.

Defining our core values has been a game-changer in our family; owning them and choosing to live by them has provided common ground that is being weaved into the fabric of who we are…even with teenage hormones in the mix!

Do you think this method or style would work for you and your family?

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