Values, those invisible little things that underpin so many of our decisions. 

If you have ever noticed a time in your life when there’s one circumstance and a number of different reactions, then you’ve noticed values at work. 

There’s a reason why one person isn’t that phased while the other person is. 

Underneath the surface, down a bit towards the direction of our heart, lurks a collection of the things we hold dear. The things that are important to us. 

Our values. 

There is no right or wrong here. Our values are as individual as we are. 

Because they’re invisible, portable, and familiar to us, we don’t pay them much attention. It’s usually only by reflection that we realise how much they impact us through our habits, our words, and our day-to-day interactions. 

Values may stay hidden for other reasons too. We don’t want to acknowledge them because maybe we:

  • Don’t like them
  • Think other people may not like them
  • Say they’re not important

Ignore your values at your cost

Our values drive our thoughts, our habits, our words, and our actions. They lie behind the decisions we make or don’t make. 

Our values affect our lives. Daily. They are not just what we say. They are also what we do.  

When our children were little, our actions were often about what we valued for them. Think back to when they were young, what did you value for their greater good? Was it:

  • Good health?
  • Being safe?
  • Having friends?
  • Treating others kindly?
  • Staying connected?

Have these values changed now they are tweens, teens or adolescents? And if so, what do these values now look like? Could your adolescent answer that question?

Where do our values come from?

When we’re little it’s about survival. To agree with the people who are immediately responsible for our safety is a sensible choice to make. As a family, we’re instilling values into our children by osmosis. They take our values on board because it keeps them safe. 

When we’re a teenager, it’s about pushing back. Our rangatahi are bigger and more capable of looking after themselves. They notice their friends have different values, and they try them out. 

The adolescent years are designed to do just that, grow our identities in order to diversify and strengthen our species. The pushback you get as a parent of a rangatahi is biologically based. It’s there to enable them to grow into being their own person, 100% unique. 

The thing about values is this: you don’t have to keep them. If you find a value (or two) that doesn’t serve you it’s quite ok to get rid of it, move it along. And replace it with a value that does serve you.  

Ditch the judgement talk that’s happening, it’s time to out those lurking values and make them visible. It’s an opportunity to create worthwhile family discussions around the values you use, and the values they use. Find out where the friction points are. Because understanding where your rangatahi are coming from puts you halfway towards knowing how to meet them, guide them, and support them. 

Sign up here for the family values exercise.