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Discover, Prioritise and Strengthen Your Family’s Values

Andrew Ronald
Simirity Founder | Father of Two

Just because your family hasn’t agreed on a list of values doesn’t mean you don’t have any… Every family has core values, including yours, which are the backbone of family life. They impact everyone in the family but are especially important for younger family members learning their place in the world. A wise choice of strong family values establishes a shared framework that helps children learn and strengthens family relationships. A lousy choice does the opposite.

No one chooses ‘bad’ family values, but bad habits left unaddressed teach children wrong moral values. This article will explore the importance of family values and how to identify and upgrade your current values. We include 100 examples of family values for you to consider. 

A happy family sat outside having a picnic.
Connected with healthy family values.

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Why Are Strong Family Values So Important?

Few things are as crucial to family dynamics as defining your family values. 

They are used to establish what is acceptable in your family and what is not. Concepts that are instilled at a young age and last a lifetime. Modern families, with children being exposed to more and more external influences, need family values more than ever. 

Family values are the principles that shape our character and define our legacy.

Unknown

Family members make decisions based on their values

Without clear values, children have to guess right from wrong.

Simirity

During their formative years, children come into contact with individuals from diverse backgrounds whose values may differ wildly from theirs. For a child without a clear understanding of right and wrong, this can be a bewildering and stressful period. Clear family values act as guiding principles that help your children navigate and interpret the world around them, to know beyond doubt right from wrong.

Common family values can help children communicate the reasons behind their decisions, in a way that parents can understand and work with. With values, it can be easier for children to explain their actions. 

Ignorance is not bliss…

You can’t pretend that your family doesn’t have values, as every family does. The question is whether they are helpful to your family or not. You may not have a family mission statement, but ultimately, you are one family, with one overarching set of principles that guide how you spend your time together. 

It’s time to take ownership of your values and wield them strategically to raise your children and help them make good decisions. 

Family values exist, even if you ignore them.

Family values are the glue that binds a family together

Families are connected by more than blood.

What you collectively stand for, your values, provides you with a shared identity that you and your relatives can support and resonate with. This encourages a feeling of togetherness within the family, leading to a more peaceful and less tense home environment.

Our family name is Ronald. When I talk to my children, I sometimes refer to it as a motivational tool. “We’re Ronald’s – we can do better than that!”. Adapting the ending to suit the situation. Our family name becomes a placeholder for our values; a single word summarising our core family values. And as owners of the family name, I believe my children feel that:

  1.  They are a part of something bigger than themselves.
  2.  They share our values.

This idea of values binding people together is nothing new. Religions, nations, sports clubs, and businesses create that feeling of community through shared values. Helping people thrive together in the good times and unite through the hard times.

When family values are clear, parents and children know where they stand with each other. Good family values also foster a positive family dynamic, where relationships can flourish. 

What Are Your Current Family Values?

Where family values come from

Family values have complex origins, influenced by a combination of cultural, religious, social, and personal factors.

Our life experiences have the power to reprioritise or rewrite our values.  It’s funny to think, but if you had grown up in a different country or with a different religion, your values might be different today.

Having lived in several different countries, I’ve felt my values shift as I experienced the local community’s values. This is a crucial point too – values often change over time within your family. So, assessing values is not a one-time-only activity. 

Using mindfulness to reveal your list of values

Mindfulness is a powerful tool I’ve used to expose my values. I’m far from a guru on this – you can do this too.

Live your family life while being present and aware of everyday interactions. By doing so, you can see your values influence your decision-making. We can learn about our values when we do things well, but also by making mistakes. I often find that the feeling of regret or missed opportunity highlights my true values.

Write down your list of family values, perhaps in a journal, and keep adding more until you have a clear and comprehensive list of the values that matter to you. 

If you’d like something you can take action on right now, try the following questions.

Five questions to discover your family values 

Step 1: Sit down alone or hold a family meeting to consider these questions together.

  1. Who are the people you admire the most in life, and what makes them so unique?
  2. What does living successfully mean to you?
  3. What fond memories do you have of the past, and why are these things special?
  4. Do you have family mottos or sayings that guide what you do?
  5. What big decisions have you made, and why did you make those decisions?

Step 2: Make a list of the values that are related to your answers. 

For example, when I think about a friend I admire, I might write down ‘grit’, ‘humility’ and ‘physical health’.

Each subsequent time that particular value comes up in your answers, add a line next to it as a vote for its importance. So, if ‘living successfully’ means staying physically in good shape, you would add a line net to ‘physical health’. Repeat until you’ve thoroughly considered all five questions.

Step 3: Identify the values with the most lines next to them. Consider these to be your core values.

If you did this as a family, can you spot a pattern? Did you all have different values, or did you have a common set of values? 

It’s unlikely you will be a 100% match, but often, many parents can install family values during their children’s formative years by being a living example for their children. Behaving in a way that is in harmony with your beliefs will instil family values in children observing you.

Values not shared by others could be called your personal values, and those shared by your family are your family values.  

Being true to our core family values

If you are like me, when you did the exercise above you probably felt quite strongly about many of the values, but also perhaps a little guilty about not embodying those values in life as much as you would like. If so, I don’t think we are alone with this.

We have a clear idea about the values we stand for, but let’s be honest: life can really stand in the way sometimes. Slowly but surely, and with the help of our family and friends, we can close the gap between the values we believe in and our actions.

It’s simple, but not easy.

Recognise when things go wrong. Illustration of a Venn diagram with circles of 'values' and 'actions', where the overlap of circles represents the times when we act with integrity.

How Can I Upgrade My Values?

You can’t think your way to better values. Instead, embody your values in every action.

Here are three ways you and your entire family can upgrade your values. 

1. Talk openly with family members about values

Thinking about and clearly establishing your values will lead to better, more robust connections with your loved ones. 

Having identified your values in the earlier section, could you make sure your nuclear family knows all about them? Being vulnerable and sharing your values with those who care for you can help keep you accountable, fostering a supportive extended family environment. For example, I value patience and taking the time to listen to others. Since my family has known that, they’ve done a great job of reminding me when tensions flared and I was feeling less patient than usual.

Open discussions about values are time well spent and can be very insightful. Do you honestly know what your children value most currently?

Your family may surprise you.

2. Become a role-model

It’s good to tell your children about values, but it’s better to show them in action.

You might tell your children that staying fit and healthy is important. But if you fail to go on that family walk or cut back on your bad eating habits, your children will think you are a hypocrite and consequently pay no attention to your suggestions. 

Don’t say one thing and then do another – that’s just a recipe for confusion and conflict. 

Ultimately, just live your life with integrity to be a healthy role model for your children.

3. Adopt healthy family habits and family traditions

If healthy living is a value you want to strengthen in your family, rely on habits and traditions instead of wishful thinking.

Once processes like these are up and running, the values will be reinforced effortlessly, seamlessly integrating into daily life.

  • A weekly family discussion about healthy family dinners.
  • Make sport, biking, or walking together at the weekend as a default activity.
  • Make a family workout routine for weekdays; it could be as simple as a 4 minute Tabata workout.
  • Each year, commit to doing a 10k family run.

Establishing a weekly, monthly, and annual rhythm adds stability to life, which children find comforting. With repetition, they might even take the lead role and encourage the family to go on that family bike trip or have dinner together as a family. 

Family traditions also demonstrate to your children that you put your family first – you don’t just talk about family being important; you take action too.

Six Examples of Children Using Values to Make Decisions

As children grow, they will face an ever-bewildering array of challenging scenarios. Here are just a few examples of how being armed with positive family values can help them make the right choices.

  1. Is this new thing I’m experiencing now good or bad, and should I do something about it?
  2. How should I behave around these people?
  3. Something happened and I’m feeling stressed / angry / sad. What should I do now?
  4. I must choose what I do now – X, Y or Z?
  5. Oops, I’ve done something wrong – what should I do now?
  6. What should I do when every choice seems to be bad?

The next time your child faces a new challenge, take a moment to consider what values you are using to evaluate the situation. Real-world scenarios like these are the best way to teach family values in a way that sticks in your child’s mind.  

When values are clear, decisions are easy.

John Spence

100 Family Values Examples, Organised Into Categories

There are many dimensions to our lives, and we’ll need values to support decision-making in each. 

One pitfall some families face is missing values in some categories. Your children might have a clear idea of how to socialise with others in school, but if you never discuss values relating to digital consumption and interactions online, they might be unsure of what is appropriate. A comprehensive set of values, covering all categories of life as a family, can be a great help for your family unit.  

It’s hard to define ‘good’ values in each category, but we have included some of the more popular ones for your reference.

Family time

Values that relate to family activities and time spent at home. 

  • Family heritage
  • Family traditions 
  • Quality time together
  • Family dinners
  • Homework
  • Household chores
  • Personal hygiene
  • Moderation (e.g. use of technology)
  • Balanced lifestyle (e.g. work and play) 
  • Privacy
  • Outdoor in nature
  • Discipline 

Character

Values that describe people’s behaviour and mindset.

  • Grit
  • Determination 
  • Curiosity 
  • Growth mindset 
  • Open-mindedness 
  • Optimism
  • Humility 
  • Humour
  • Bravery  
  • Patience
  • Kindness
  • Generosity
  • Independence 
  • Attentive 
  • Spontaneity 
  • Logic 

Social

How people interact in social contexts, such as school, work or within the community. 

  • Cooperation
  • Volunteerism
  • Inclusivity
  • Social justice
  • Civic responsibility
  • Environmental stewardship
  • Helpfulness
  • Community service
  • Respect for diversity
  • Equality 
  • Advocacy for social causes
  • Loyalty
  • Open communication

Work & education 

Work values that influence their style of working and learning.

  •  Lifelong learning
  • Critical thinking
  • Intellectual exploration
  • Achievement
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Creativity
  • Pursuit of knowledge
  • Hard-working
  • Productive
  • Collaboration 
  • Punctuality 
  • Empowerment
  • Perseverance

Health & wellbeing

Keeping healthy and mentally balanced is essential for living your best life.

  • Physical health
  • Mental health
  • Self-compassion
  • Emotional well-being
  • Self-care
  • Exercise
  • Nutrition
  • Stress management
  • Self-awareness
  • Asking for help
  • Balance in life

Relationships

For strong and durable relationships, instil family values like these that encourage communication, truth and supportiveness. 

  • Love
  • Communication
  • Trust
  • Mutual respect
  • Quality time
  • Love and affection
  • Teamwork
  • Supportiveness
  • Conflict resolution
  • Bonding activities
  • Family meals together

Ethics 

Helping us make decisions and conduct ourselves in a manner that aligns with what’s morally right and wrong.

  • Honesty
  • Integrity
  • Kindness
  • Empathy
  • Compassion
  • Respect
  • Responsibility
  • Forgiveness
  • Fairness
  • Trustworthiness
  • Charity
  • Generosity
  • Gratitude
  • Faith
  • Humility 
  • Service to others

Mitigating risks

Define family values that relate to potential risks.

  • Meeting strangers 
  • Online safety
  • Substance use
  • Acceptable online behaviour
  • Local risks (e.g. places to avoid)
  • Family privacy 

Here they are again, organised into a downloadable printable sheet:

A list of 100 family values - the ones already described in this article.

Prioritising Your Family Values

Most people share a belief in these values on some level, and yet despite agreeing on the values, different people make different decisions.

Why?

If two people who believe in the importance of family unity and personal growth are given the chance to leave their homes for a year abroad, one might leave, and one might stay. The difference is the priority of the values— the one who leaves prioritising personal growth over family unity. 

Clearly, more than selecting family values is required – you also need to prioritise them.

Family meeting to prioritise your core values

Understand where your family’s priorities lie with this simple challenge.

Write down your family’s core values on separate pieces of paper and organise them from most important to least important. Try it as a family, comparing one value to another and debating their relative importance. Or complete the task independently and only show the others when everyone is ready. The latter can be the most interesting, as everyone’s voice is clearly heard.

If your values seem equally important, put them side by side in the list. 

Conflicting family values

Some decisions seem impossible to make.

Whatever you do seems to be the wrong choice. Often, this is because the situation puts two of your values in competition. 

Consider someone who has a strong value for professional success and ambition, while simultaneously valuing quality time with their family and being present for important moments in their loved ones’ lives. If they pursue their career, their dedication will likely impact their family life. But they may feel conflicted about sacrificing potential career opportunities or advancement if they don’t take the career opportunities.

We’ve all faced hard decisions like this, and knowing your priorities lies at the heart of it. Remember that over time your values will shift in their priority – perhaps today the drive for career success is stronger, but later, quality family time will feel more important. 

Keep reminding yourself that you can do anything in life, just not all at once. Use your prioritised values to understand what’s right for you today.

Three Steps to Instil Strong Values in Your Family

Coming from a traditional family structure or believing in religious values is not required here. It’s just about wanting to help your child live their best life. Try the following steps to strengthen your family’s awareness of your shared family values. 

  1. Discover your family values: Return to this section to print out the values list and perform the challenge.
  2. Prioritise values: As discussed here, try to put your values in order from most important to least.
  3. Review recent events: Talk with your children about the challenges they have recently faced. It could be a playground disagreement, sibling rivalry or a conflict you had with them. Use the written values as prompts to help them identify which values they used. Would they do anything differently now? Are there other values you would like to suggest to them?

But hold on, there is more you can do to strengthen family values…

How Simirity App Can Strengthen Values in Your Entire Family

Simirity is a family business. We found it hard to keep our entire family meaningfully connected in the modern world, with busy schedules and living apart seemingly pulling us apart. Social media and messaging apps are great, but they’re not optimised for family needs. They certainly aren’t going to help you strengthen your family’s values. 

We built the Simirity App to help. An app that focuses on what modern families need.

Our family on holiday.

As humans, we learn best from stories that we can emotionally connect with. Those from people we care about, with enough details to make them stick in our minds. That’s where Simirity can help…

Simirity App is a private storytelling app that unites your extended family in stories, even if you live apart.

Over time, your entire family can build an archive of digital stories, filled with memorable photos, videos and audio, that share your experiences with young generations. 

Introduction to the Simirity App

As previously discussed, preaching values isn’t the best way to teach children.

Live in accordance with your values, and the stories from your life demonstrate (without preaching) the values you live by. And with Simirity App, you are not alone in this. Stories from your parents, grandparents, siblings, and more can entertain while educating your children. As they explore the stories of their family’s past, they become ever more connected to grandparents, aunts, and cousins they don’t usually get to see. 

Kickstart story creation within your family by using the Requests feature, where you or perhaps your children, ask extended family members to share stories on topics that interest you. Why did Granddad John spend two years living abroad in his youth? What did Aunt Jane enjoy most growing up in the 70s? Or how did Grandma Jen cope with being sent to boarding school as a child?

These stories are woven into daily life, with reminders of story anniversaries, so the past is never forgotten. They are preserved forever, welcoming future families with stories that will amaze, delight, and educate them. 

Learn more about Simirity App and how you can strengthen family values through stories. 

From grandparents to toddlers to teens, the app fosters meaningful interactions and shared family connection.

American Woman Blog

Additional Inspiration About Family Values

Such is the importance of family values that many experts have shared their views on this topic. Explore this article for quotes such as that below about family values, and five insights that families can learn from. 

"I come from a large family, but I was not raised with a fortune. Something more was left me, and that was family values."

Dikembe Mutombo
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