Values are the foundation of who we are and directly impacts who we will become. Thus, it is important that parents teach their teenagers how to understand the value of their values now so they can make good decisions.
The great Albert Einstein stated, “Try not to become a man of success but a man of value.” We must never underestimate the importance of teaching our teenagers how vital it is to have personal values, then live by those values. The earlier we begin to do this, the better chance we will have in ensuring our teenagers will have values as their foundation that allow them to achieve their full potential.
Values are what ultimately define whom we are. Our values will impact every decision we make or don’t make. Thus, the reason it is so important to know what values are in order to be able to teach your teen the value of them. As we identify our values, develop them, then live by them each day, we will become more empowered. What a blessing to be able to help our teenagers feel this empowerment now when they are dealing with so many important decisions on a daily basis. Here are 4 ways to help teach your teens the Value of Values.
Understand how beliefs lead to values
Our beliefs come from what we experience in our life. This will most likely come from the things we are taught, see, feel, hear, or don’t do. As we experience different situations in our life, we will establish beliefs. These beliefs will eventually become our values as we strengthen them. Helping your teen understand that there are many things that will influence them and what they believe, which in turn will impact what they value, is important. Your value as a parent will increase as you help your son or daughter develop a strong set of core beliefs.
Share what you value with your teen
Here is that moment when you have to do a self-check to be sure you actually know your personal values. As you share with your teen your most important values; why they are important, and how they became your core values, you will open up significant channels of communication and trust. What an added benefit to you and your youth when this relationship can take on new or improved meaning. Sharing your values shows that you care and, just as impactful, you know what you are talking about.
Help your teenager start to identify their personal values
Once you have taken the opportunity to provide clarity about how beliefs lead to values, you will want to take the opportunity to help your son or daughter start to identify some of their values. You may be surprised at how much they have already thought about this. Your sincere desire to help your teenager identify their personal values will open up great doors of communication and a stronger relationship. To help you get started, here are some helpful questions to help identify one’s personal values:
What gives you the greatest feelings of achievement and success?
Who are some people; friends, teachers, leaders, parents, siblings you look up to and why?
What are you hoping to accomplish in the next week, month, 3 months?
As these questions are answered, and others that you might come up with to help with this important step, you will be able to see a list of what should be a beginning list of values. Be thoughtful and methodical as you go through this exercise so that there is not a feeling of being rushed.
Lead by example
There is nothing that can more of an impact on teaching your teenager the value of their values than leading by example. If you say you value one thing then do the complete opposite, you are teaching your teen many lessons that are not helpful for either of you. Don’t allow your actions to speak louder than your words, especially when it comes to your values. If you value love, then you need to show it by giving your son or daughter a hug, talking with them, and spending time with them. Just saying you love them will not be enough. Your actions will have a profound impact on both the beliefs and values of your teenager so be a wise steward of this awesome responsibility.
My parents were a great example of teaching me values by living them. I never had to question where they stood when it came to important decisions. They had already established their values and worked regularly to develop and enhance them. My mom valued many things. However, one thing she truly put at the forefront was taking every opportunity to teach us kids.
I can remember when we would go on family vacations or road trips we would hear her reading to us from the front seat. She would read all sorts of things that covered many topics. I was much younger then so I may not remember the topics themselves. Yet, I can remember thinking how much she loved us and cared about us. She valued her time with us and did not want to waste any time being able to teach us. Her values defined her. They still do to this day. I am a better husband, father, son, brother, friend and leader because of the beliefs and values she helped to instill in me. That time is all worth it.
Seth Saunders is an executive business consultant and leadership coach. Seth has been married 20 years to his amazing wife, Amber, and is the proud father of three wonderful sons. He is passionate about helping others succeed.