You are what your family is! While an individual has his or her own journey to traverse in life, there is something that defines his or her actions at every stage and in every situation – family values. These are values shared in the family you were born into and guides you pretty much throughout your life.
Family values means all those ideas, beliefs, concepts and traditions that you are exposed to right from the time of your birth and are passed on from one generation to the other.
Of course, one might say we must change with the times and the dynamics of social mores make a person more flexible and less rigid. However, here it is essential to differentiate between opinions, traditions, habits and family values.
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Your lifestyles might change over a period; your views on a particular topic (say, homophobia or inter-racial relationships or eating habits) might be impacted by what is happening around you.
As you grow older, education, exposure to media and the influence of friends, teachers and thought leaders might lead you to behave very differently from your parents, but your foundation and reactions remain the same – that is the power of these eight or 10 family values that are common to all cultures and countries.
10 Family Values To Uphold Forever
Why are family values important? In a highly individualistic society, where there is always a clash between traditional values vs modern values, do they hold any significance at all? To understand their importance and relevance it is necessary to know the role of family in society.
Now, modern family values might be hugely differ from household to household and it is really unfair to judge but essentially family is the biggest support system for an individual. And you realise the importance of family values during times of crisis.
Those who hail from strong families usually tend to face challenging times better purely on the strength of the emotional, physical and even financial support they receive. There is a sense of shared responsibility when you have good family values.
Family values provide the framework to make important decisions. The way you bring up your children often reflects your family values that you would have received in your childhood.
They protect you from harmful outside influences – it does not mean you won’t get swayed but even if you believe in say, about 10 family values, they ground you and make you humble.
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Mostly importantly, they guide your relationships. Generally people tend to gravitate towards those who share their values. And it’s your core family values that give you the invisible rule book with which you form close relationships with outsiders.
So what are the top values that you need to understand, cherish and uphold all your life? While the list can be long, we have chosen 10 family values – from the very basic to the very profound – that essentially define your personality in a way few other things can.
1. Respecting elders
It might sound strange especially for a society as diverse as that of the US or the UK but traditional Christian values of respecting elders is still ranked high among the list of top 10 family values.
A conventional family consists of a man, woman, children and grandparents, and loving and respecting your elders is expected out of children.
Of course, youngsters have a very strong voice and there always will be the traditional values vs modern values battle fought in every household. However at the very basic level, disrespecting or arguing with elders is frowned upon.
It certainly does not mean that the young and the restless need to be subservient to tradition but a healthy respect among two generations, the ability to have a civil discourse and an understanding of each other’s viewpoints even if the parents and the kids disagree, is counted among the cherished family values.
2. Having good etiquettes
In a study conducted in the UK among 2000 families a few years ago, it was found that despite modern family values taking over, some old fashioned morals and teachings were still considered valuable.
For instance, surprisingly around 76% of those surveyed said that having good table manners topped their family values.
“Nobody wants to see a child picking through a roast chicken dinner with their fingers or talking with their mouths full,” said the study.
Table manners and etiquettes might seem a trivial thing but in families where they are insisted upon, it shows a certain level of discipline and politeness.
These small elements go a long way in refining your personality and polishing up your habits that leave a good impression on anyone you interact with in the future.
3. Spending Christmas and other festivals together
If ever there was a vote held among people to rank their top 10 family values in life, spending Christmas together would be undoubtedly no. 1.
Whatever be your equation with your family, Christmas, Thanksgiving and a few other festivals are the occasions to forgive, forget and come together.
This is also the reason why Christmas means offices and streets are empty as everyone dashes to their families to spend the festive season in love and joy. Simple traditions like roasting Turkey, cutting the cake, decorating the tree, exchanging gifts etc have remained the same since time immemorial.
It says a lot about these traditions that have stood the test of time and each of them emphasise the importance of togetherness, sharing and possessing good family values. Festivals are just not the same without family – be they related by blood or even if they are ‘friends like family.’
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4. Splitting chores
Those who give importance to family ethics are also those who believe in principles like giving respect, working hard, being honest etc.
These values are reflected in day to day activities like splitting chores between the husband and wife. In most homes, you can see that the family members are expected to chip in with the household chores.
So if dad clears the table, mom does the dishes and the kids make the bed. The objective here is to make every person take up some responsibility and become independent enough to take care of their own needs.
Comparatively in traditional Asian homes, where often there is a glaring lack of equality in a marriage, household chores are a burden of the woman. Dividing household chores becomes a shared value in a modern family which is then carried forward even by the children when they start a family.
5. Giving to charity
Your sense of charity or inclination to take part in volunteering activities often reflects the family values that have been passed down generations. Volunteering or giving to charity is a way to show that you care about society and believe in giving back to it.
Volunteering can take any form, either by being part of groups or being part of an animal shelter or even working for the local church. It would be even better if you work together with your family in a project.
These activities do not just foster a sense of togetherness, they help in creating a great bond between the members. More importantly, it makes you feel good about yourself and helps you connect with like-minded people. Everyone can do with a helping hand occasionally and what better way to spread cheer than working together as a family.
6. Being loyal
When there is family, there are bound to be conflicts too. There might be difference of opinion, resentments, arguments and petty squabbles. But what matters is that in the overall picture, you are loyal to the entire institution.
If your family is under attack from an external force, strong family values will prevent you from leaving your near and dear ones alone even if they are not so dear to you at that moment. There is a reason why they say ‘blood is thicker than water’! Loyalty is also defined in personal relationships like marriage.
In some Christian families divorce is looked down upon. In such families trouble in marriage does not usually lead to the divorce courts at the first instance. Instead, there is an attempt made to reconcile and solve the problems.
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7. Respecting religion
An individual’s attitude towards religion is a direct reflection of his family values. Mostly, children brought up in families where rituals and traditions prescribed by religion are followed strictly, grow up to be fairly religious themselves.
Also, things like attending Church, partaking in its activities etc become a habit when they are handed down by generations. Of course, there are plenty of examples where religious values followed by children and their parents are completely different. So nowadays people from religious homes even opt for non-religious weddings.
However, whether the new generation follows religion or not is entirely their choice what can’t be denied is that their awareness and attitude towards the same is a result of shared family values. Having respect towards religion is definitely counted among the 10 family values that are prevalent in most societies.
8. Being kind and compassionate
Every parent tries to impart certain common human values to their children. Prime among these are qualities like the need to be kind to everyone, respect others, be compassionate to those who are underprivileged and being thoughtful in words and deeds.
When you see people who don’t follow rules, indulge in rude and obnoxious behaviour and a lack of respect towards other individuals, cultures and religions, it shows bad family values being imparted.
There is no use of boasting you have imbibed five or 10 family values that are your guiding principle, if you can’t follow basic virtues that every human being across cultures gives importance to. Things like hard work, kindness, helping society etc are qualities that make you a good, well-adjusted individual.
9. Being tolerant and trustworthy
Being trustworthy is a quality that we all cherish. Parents who want their children to excel in life usually teach them to take responsibility for their actions, work hard and reach their goals in a fair manner.
In fact, families that often boast of a proud ‘family name’ are conscious of their reputation and would do everything to ensure that their children strive to live up to it. Being tolerant and trustworthy are qualities that are appreciated in every realm of life.
Children brought up on strong family values would think twice before committing any act that might bring shame or embarrassment to the family name. This is not to say they won’t make any mistakes or misdeed but these family ethics often act as prevention.
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10. Value family bonds
One of the main objectives of having family values is to imprint a sense of belonging and rootedness. Parents would want their children to feel that sense wherever they are.
Those who come from dysfunctional, broken families with negative or bad family values generally find it challenging to form strong relationships themselves. You need to value your family ties which makes you return to your roots no matter where you are.
When you value bonds and ties, you want to celebrate life, you feel there is a purpose to your existence. Man is a social animal and a family unit is at the very core of this pyramid of society.
Every family follows certain set of values. Some of these are naturally passed onto children, while others are learnt and imbibed as the years go by. However all of the aforementioned 10 family values would be meaningless, if they are not practised by elders themselves. It is their responsibility to ensure that they follow the right, pious path which then influence the next generation.
All families practise core values that are cherished and appreciated by society and social systems such as being truthful, working hard, being honest, trustworthy and tolerant and being a sociable person who respects others.
Family values are important because family is the biggest support system for an individual. Family values provide the framework for behaviour and reactions in a certain situation. They also teach the dos and don’ts of what’s expected out of you and help you become a well adjusted individual.
The advantages of family values are that they provide you strength and support during difficult times. The disadvantages are that you may find it difficult to break free and lead an independent life if family values are too rigid or tie you down to systems you do not want to follow.