Many of us assume that our job as parents is mostly corrective in nature. We think our primary focus should be providing consequences and telling our children what they can and cannot do. Think about the nature of the majority of your interactions with your children. Do your kids only come into focus when they are misbehaving? Do you tend to mostly interact around negative situations? If so, you are not alone. Now think about this verse in Deuteronomy 11 as it relates to our role as parents:
“Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates (verses 18-20).”
From this passage, we can understand that our main parental goal is not corrective nature. Rather, our goal should be to immerse our children in an environment rich with the values we hold dear. For Christian parents, this will include the foundational truths of the faith (to love the Lord God above all else, to love your neighbor as yourself, to be humble and contrite in spirit, etc.).
Here are some ways to help you instill and incorporate your family’s values into everyday life.
1. Sit down with your spouse and identify your family’s core beliefs. These are the values and truths that do not change over time. They will not be adjusted regardless of who lives in your house or how old your children are. They are backed by biblical principles. Prayerfully consider what God would have you include on this list. Some examples are: be a good steward, put the needs of others first, be truthful, have self control, etc.
2. Identify language that will reflect these values and will help you incorporated them into your everyday conversations. For example, if one of your values is “put the needs of others first,” you can focus on using words that exemplify that value during your day like, “thoughtful,” “considerate” or “serving.”
3. Identify your values at work in the world around you. Ask God to show you when these concepts are being played out in real life scenarios and then point them out to your children at every possible turn. If you see someone holding a door for another person, whisper, “How thoughtful of him. That’s important to us too, isn’t it?” If you see one of your children serve a sibling before himself, say, “That was a wonderful demonstration of serving others.” Opportunities are everywhere. Seize every moment to teach and reinforce these foundational beliefs.
To read how these values can be used as the foundation for your family’s rules, see also: