What are family values? Generally speaking, they refer to positive character traits like forgiveness, respect and empathy. What that means for each family varies. Honesty in one family might mean never telling a lie, while in another family means always being up-front with your thoughts and feelings.
It's easy to talk about the values you may have, but getting your children to follow them might get a bit difficult. Some psychologists believe that values aren't something that can be taught, even. While it's true that telling your child to be more considerate of others probably won't move the needle much, there are ways that you can see if your children hold the same values that you do. Leading by example is a huge component in getting your children to inherit values, so it's important you look at your own behavior as well.
If you want to see where your kids stand, take the family values test. Here are several different scenarios that you can share with your children. Let your children have time to think and process though each scenario, and let them respond fully to what they would do. Their answers to the test will help you understand more deeply what values are important to your children and if they align with yours. These each can be adapted to fit your child’s age, and even be changed to more advance scenarios if you have teenagers.
Imagine that you were at home playing with a ball inside of the house. By mistake, you throw the ball too far and knock over your mother’s favorite flower vase, causing it to shatter. Your mom hears the crash and quickly comes running over to see what happened. You know that if you tell your mom the truth, you will get in trouble. She’s asked you many times before not to play in the house for this exact reason. However, you know if you lie and say the dog ran into the table she won’t be mad at you. What would you do?
There is a new kid at school that moved here from a state far away, so he doesn’t know anyone. The new kid barely talks and seems to look at the ground a lot. You can tell he’s unhappy and lonely. However the other kids laugh at him and make jokes about his appearance. They expect you to laugh along with him and bully the new kid. You can tell the new boy needs a friend, but you don’t want to get laughed at either. Would you choose to be his friend because you feel bad for what he is going through?
You invite all your friends over for a sleepover at your house. You tell your mom five friends are coming, so she prepares snacks and drinks for only those people. However, one of your friends ends up bringing along their younger sister. Though you love her and are excited to have more friends over, you know there aren’t enough cans of soda for everyone. Would you tell the younger sister that she can’t have a soda can or would you offer her yours?
You are babysitting your brother when you hear a knock at the door. The person says, “Is anyone home? I’m a friend of the family and I need to talk to you!” You’re not expecting anyone and you do not recognize the person's voice. Two-minutes have passed and this person still hasn’t left, insisting that they must come in to talk to you. Your parents have left you a phone number where they can be reached, as well as the number to your next-door neighbor. What would you do?
PatienceYou are at a birthday party and you have waited in line for a long time for your turn to hit the piñata. You've never been at a party with a piñata before, so you are really excited to try it out. It is finally going to be your turn when suddenly the birthday boy runs up and asks if he can go next. You look at the piñata and can tell it's close to breaking. If the birthday boy hits it, you might not get a chance to swing until another birthday party. Do you let him anyways?
You are hanging outside with your friend and she decides to pick your neighbor's flowers. You know your neighbor works really hard to keep her garden beautiful, as you see her working on it almost every weekend. She gives you the pretty handful of flowers that look beautiful and you want to put one in your hair. You don't think your neighbor would ever catch you if you helped picked flowers with your friend though. Do you think it would be disrespectful to take the flowers anyway?
Your teacher breaks up your classroom into small groups of four to work on a project together. You get paired with three people who aren't as smart as you. You don't think they know how to do the project in the best way and are afraid that they are going to mess up. You want to take over the entire project yourself so that you can get a good grade, but know that your teacher wants the group to all work together. What would you do?
What values are important to you should also be important to your child, so that they can grow up to be great members of society. This family values test can really help you to understand where your child is morally. If your child’s answers to some of these questions didn’t align with what you think is right, talk through it with them. Ask questions to understand where they are coming from and learn why they think the way they do. From there, you can help guide them in real-world situations to make the better choice using the Family Values Toolkit. It has great information on how to teach your child the values you care so much about.