Sharing your values with your children oftentimes leads to difficult conversations. In these moments, we have the opportunity to strengthen their understanding of our values, or to harm the relationship.
Here are a few tips to help guide you in these crucial discussions…
1. Determine the values you are most concerned about passing to your children. When we clearly know what’s most important to us, we will then communicate and act accordingly. We can spend more time discussing and modeling our priority values, and learn to let go of what’s not so critical. There was a couple who regularly asked each other a perspective-keeping question. “Is this a salvation issue?” It was their way of saying, “Is this really an issue that’s worth the battle?”
2. Recognize the power of your words. As adults, we recognize the lasting impact our parents’ words had on us, for good or for bad. Remember, you now hold that same power. Carefully consider the words you use – and the spirit in which you say them – understanding those sentiments may live on in the hearts and minds of your children, long after the conversation is over.
3. Don’t be so quick to defend. Defending a position is seldom needed with adult children, especially in the middle of an emotionally charged conversation. They’ve seen your values and observed your personal stance for years. Let down your guard, and hear them out.
4. Listen to understand. Frequently, our debates with others are really about methods and solutions, rather than about shared values. In listening closely to your children, you may be surprised to hear your own values communicated back to you, just expressed a little differently.
5. Remember the ultimate goal. You want to deepen your relationship with your children. Use this and every conversation as an opportunity to model God’s love and grace to them.
Difficult conversations are often inevitable when sharing values with the next generation. However, with love, grace and courage, these encounters can be a meaningful way to strengthen your parent-child bond. Parenthood is a gift, and it’s in a healthy, loving relationship that your values will be caught rather than taught.