Here in Australia National Families week is held every year between 15 & 21 May. The enduring theme is “Stronger Families, Stronger Communities”. This week coincides with the United Nations International Day of Families which is the 15 May.
Just over 17 years ago I attended a Conference entitled “The Child in Our Hands”. One of the keynote sessions was addressing Nurturing Faith in the Home. During this session we heard about how children gain faith and values. (This is all faith & values not just Christian faith & values.)
- Bonding with your child
- The atmosphere of the home
- Family lifestyle choices
- The roles different family members play
- The traditions & rituals that you keep as a family
- The stated & implied family rules
All of the things listed above impact on a families faith & values. This is how faith & values are passed on. It is about what children are learning, hearing & observing every day in their own family that will impact on the faith & values they will learn. Parents have possibly the biggest influence on their children’s lives.
From the things listed above you will see that it is more about what we do than what we say. Children learn what they live. They are observing how we interact with them, what sort of atmosphere we have in our homes, the lifestyle we lead, the roles each member plays, what traditions and rituals we regard as important and what rules really matter. I found this great quote, “Don’t worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you.” by Robert Fulghum. Wow did that hit home to me. In other words you need to make sure you are behaving exactly how you want your children to behave. If you don’t want your children swearing, don’t swear yourself. If you want your children to have a neat and tidy bedroom keep your room neat and tidy (this one didn’t quite work out for me).
So have you thought about what faith and values you are passing on to your children?
One thing that I wanted my children to learn was responsibility. An example of trying to instill this was when my children were in primary school if they left their homework at home on a Friday when it was supposed to be returned and I noticed. I didn’t rush up to school with it or take it up if I was going up to help because I wanted my children to learn that they are responsible for their own belongings. We are also tried to teach them about being responsible with money by teaching them to set aside a portion of money for giving, another portion for saving & the rest for spending. You can read about how we did that here. I must say that both of my children are now proud of how much they are saving since they have casual jobs.
Commitment is another thing that I wanted to pass onto my children. Many years ago my daughter was doing Physical Culture (it involved marching and dance routines). She decided part way through the year that she wanted to stop. We made her complete the year because we had paid for it and she was also committed to an end of year team competition. I’m sure she learnt something about commitment through this. In fact during high school she had been to a school house movie night and had to be up for choir early the next day. The mother who usually took her was going to give her daughter the morning off. My daughter couldn’t not go, I think this showed a great level of commitment.
Above is just a couple of examples of values we wanted to pass onto our children. What are you trying to pass onto your children?
Remember you are the most important role model in your child’s life. What you DO is even more powerful than what you say.
In thinking about what we want our children to believe & value we can build a stronger family which helps make a stronger community.