Our values are as unique as we are. 

Every individual has their own set of values, the things they hold to be dear. The combination of their unique blend of values is as individual as their fingerprints. 

So how do we blend them all together to create family values?

We don’t. 

We wouldn’t expect to blend our fingerprints together to create a family fingerprint so why would we expect each individual to forgo their unique value set in order to take up a family set of values?

Instead, we acknowledge the individual’s values and honour their contribution to the family values. The family values are slightly different because a family is different from an individual. They don’t have to match up. 

What’s important here is that the family values reflect the uniqueness of the family. 

There are a number of ways to do things

Perhaps everyone contributes their top value to the pool of family values. And you discuss what that value looks like, sounds like, and feels like. 

As a discussion opener, this is so, so useful. 

Or perhaps you all contribute your own top three values and have a wider pool. Once you’ve begun discussing the important parts – what you think it means, how it plays out, and how it looks in your lives – then agreements are more likely to be easily reached. 

Maybe you discuss all of the values, tease them out to get a shared understanding, and eventually agree on your top three. Or five. It’s your family. The values are unique to you. You can have as many, or as few as you like. 

Growing up, the family I lived in didn’t have visible family values. I was more likely to find out I’d crossed the value line when I did something and got a derogatory comment made about what I was doing. 

Not having an experience of family value setting to draw on has made the exercise of family value setting slightly more challenging. In the end, I just started asking my rangatahi, “What is it you value here?” and listened carefully to their answers. 

The discussions were rich and valuable.

Eventually, we settled on the family values of ‘connection’ and ‘keep talking.’ Only two values, but they covered a lot of bases. 

Having the two main values to come back to has made our family values simple to use. 

The kids all knew they needed to connect with each other or me and talk things through. Our two values were a filter that when used effectively saved a lot of impulsive decisions and potential heartache. 

Our values have stood the test of time, even as my rangatahi have grown up and left home they still stay connected with each other and me. 

We still continue to have rich, robust discussions that are meaningful and useful. Our family values contribute to my being able to parent them as they grow. 

For support as you open your family values discussions, use this link to access the online values course. Values make such an enormous difference to the way we all show up in the world and you will find this resource to be a useful starting point.