At Youth Frontiers, we teach values unapologetically. We take one school day to get kids to step back, reflect and see themselves, their classmates and their school differently. We etch character on kids’ hearts. And they’re hungry for the message – for someone to say, “Be good!” They are hungry for guiding values to make their world a better place.
At home, you don’t have a special school day to step back and talk about your values with your kids – you have a lifetime. Conversations about values might come in fits and starts and sometimes those teachable moments will pop up at the most inconvenient of times.
A practice that I’ve incorporated at Youth Frontiers to keep our company’s core values (quality, caring, growth) front and center is to do a one-minute partner conversation at our monthly staff meetings. Our staff pair up and each person gets a minute to share an example from the past month of how he or she has lived out one of the core values of YF in their work or home life. Or they can speak about an example of when they have seen a coworker exemplifying one of the core principles.
Consider the list of values common to many societies from the book “Character Strengths and Virtues” by Selig and Peterson pictured above.
If you’d like, take one of these words and give everyone in the family a chance to speak for a minute about what this word means to them. They can share a story, connect the word to a book or a song or relate it to a problem they’re having. Create space to talk when there’s no pressure to be too deep or clever – perhaps at dinner, in the car or on a walk.
These kinds of words should not feel as if they’re reserved for just important conversations. By reflecting on them regularly and in a more casual way, we can bring them into everyday life. Words like compassion, integrity, humility and transcendence aren’t only for philosophers, clergy and poets. They’re for all of us – parents and our children too.