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Family Values

Family values are morals that help shape a family’s beliefs, attitudes, and ideals.

You probably define what is “moral” based largely on the ethical values and standards established by your family. Within each family, encouraging good morals helps influence behavior, social interactions, relationships, and family traditions and habits.

What are family values?

Family values include the qualities that are most important to you as a family, such as integrity or hard work or kindness; they also define what you believe is right and wrong. Your family’s moral definitions might shape, for example, what you consider acceptable for public conduct, work ethic, and social views.

What are some examples of Family Values?

Most families embrace values in several areas, including the following

Social Values
Respect and courtesy
Volunteer work
Kindness to others
Standing up for others
Appropriate discipline
Attitudes toward others
Choice of language

Civic Values
Opportunity
Equality
Patriotism
Freedom
Individual rights
Respect for the law

Work Values
Cooperation
Commitment to excellence
Creativity and expression
Satisfaction in achievements
Financial security or stability
Spending philosophy
Productivity
Education and knowledge

Religious Values
Reverence for God
Adherence to commandments
Church attendance
Abstinence before marriage
Dress and appearance

General Values
Honesty
Trustworthiness
Compassion
Courage
Integrity
Patience
Persistence
Gratitude
Fun
Positive attitude
Quality time together

Family values can become ingrained

When family values are well defined and reinforced at home, they become a part of who you are and how you act. Moral values, when intentionally taught and followed, can help a family work together toward common goals.

Morals are often learned at home

You might identify groups or communities with certain shared values, but this is largely a reflection of the family units within them. Moral values are ultimately instilled at home—and that’s a big responsibility for parents.

How do family values help make a family happy and strong?

Family values influence individual behavior

Clearly defined values help direct a person’s choices. Having a definite sense of right and wrong simplifies the decision process. Moreover, having defined morals can be especially influential to young people as they go through early life experiences.

Values can help solidify and identify your family

Family values are an important piece of a family’s identity. They help hold you together and keep your family strong; they also let others know what you stand for. Think about it: the reputation of an infamous criminal is often associated with his or her family name for years, regardless of how other family members may behave. On the other hand, you probably have high regard for the family of someone you admire. What values can you identify in a family you truly respect? Those morals didn’t just happen. Families must be intentional about defining and living their values.

Family values help keep societies strong

When moral values aren’t firmly in place that help clearly define right and wrong, people flounder and communities suffer. This is the outcome that the prophet Isaiah warned of in the Bible: “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil” (Isaiah 5:20). The Apostle Paul also warned of what happens when people don’t have clear morals: “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy” (2 Timothy 3:1–2). Who can help us avoid this kind of society? Who tells society what is good and evil? The answer is simple: you.

Where do family values come from?

As discussed above, moral values are learned largely in the home—and every family member’s actions count.

Parents generally establish values

Parents are the natural role models of values to their children. You probably learned much of your moral code from your parents, who learned from their parents, and so on through previous generations. Ever hear people talk about a family’s “good name?” This passing down of values is where it comes from. Teaching moral values is an important element of effective parenting

Having similar values is important to a successful marriage and family

Marriage brings two sets of personal values into a family. Since morals are an essential part of who you are, you might assume that anyone you’re attracted to will have similar values. That’s not necessarily the case—and competing values can cause friction in a marriage and family. Make sure you talk openly with your potential future spouse about your standards and moral expectations before you decide to get married. Choose together the key values that will guide your new family.

You can always have an impact on family morals

Maybe you don’t agree with your parents’ or siblings’ values or you don’t feel that your family has a clear moral direction. You can still be a positive force in your family because your actions can profoundly influence the people closest to you. At the same time, be sensitive to the people you love. Because values are a part of a person’s identity, challenging them can feel like a personal attack. Look for ways to strengthen and build on common values instead of trying to change someone’s values that differ from yours.

How do you establish good values in a family?

While people close to you will pick up on what you value through your behavior, morals need to be discussed, defined, and acted on to be truly effective and embraced.

Own your values

What do you want your family to be like? How do you wish people would describe you? Twenty or thirty years from now, what do you hope your children will say about how they grew up and what they learned from you? A good way to find the answers to these questions is to identify what you truly value, and then prioritize the values you want to focus on as a family. If you’re married, make sure you and your spouse have the same goals in mind. Remember, if you can’t clearly define what you stand for, you won’t have clear expectations for your children. Write down your family values. Look to them when resolving disagreements. Embrace them as a mission for your family.

Reinforce your values

Don’t define your family values and then simply forget about them. Talk about them often. “What act of kindness did you see in our family today?” “Which movie fits our family language value?” “That was a great example of service!” Create opportunities to discuss and act on your family values. If hard work and persistence are part of your focus, allow children to take a significant role in family projects—regardless of their expertise. If you value helping others, organize family service projects. If education is part of your standards, take regular library trips, go to museums, or support school functions.

Establish family traditions and habits that support your values

Holidays, family vacations, daily family prayer, family game nights, and even regular weekend breakfasts are family rituals that are often steeped in family values. But again, values don’t just happen. If the spiritual significance of Christmas is important to you, for example, find ways to purposefully incorporate that value into your holiday traditions. Don’t expect that just being together on vacations or spending time together watching movies will result in family unity. Choose guidelines, such as no screen time, and activities, such as a nature night, that build on your values.

Your values make a difference

By intentionally living your values, your family’s influence can help reverse negative trends, persuade public opinion, and inspire others to embrace their own positive moral code. Your decision to claim a set of moral values effects your family—and it effects our world.

Why do Mormons value family? 

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