Thursday, September 13, 2012


While reading about college application essays, I began to wonder how my children would answer the question, "What are your core values?" I pondered especially whether I have been doing enough to share my own values in a deliberate way with them.

What exactly are my core values? Do I prioritize one over others? How can I share, and hopefully imbue, my children with them?

When I asked, ARG said that his top values (at least the ones that came to his mind) were: honesty, thinking for yourself, and diligence. Hmmmm. Those are pretty good ones. But there are a few others that matter a lot to me:

LOVING KINDNESS: Jesus said, "A new command I give to you, love one another." He didn't request, or suggest. He commanded that we love each other, if we are to truly be His followers. It is certainly not a value I have successfully embodied all of my life. But like a lodestar, it guides me, is something I always strive towards. And really, the alternative is too ugly and awful to consider embracing. So putting love as a top priority in life makes sense to me.

GRATITUDE: This is a value that I struggle to cultivate, and that is probably why I don't really see it reflected in my kids. In my head, I know I am incredibly privileged and blessed in my life. My husband has a decent job, my kids are healthy and mostly happy, we have a good home...etc. But getting caught up in the drama and challenges of daily life keeps me from feeling grateful often. So, while I can't say that I've fully brought gratitude into my life, I believe that a spirit of thankfulness can make me feel happy, and enables me to shift focus from myself to others.

COMPASSION: I remember marvelling once that people in Central America, who were starving and suffering under violently repressive regimes, could look up in the sky and see the same moon that I beheld. It felt like a distant, yet elemental connection between us. My heart hurt for them. Today, I try to be more compassionate to everyone I encounter, including myself. I remind myself that everyone is doing their best, and everyone makes mistakes, including myself. Getting into someone else's shoes doesn't feel easy or natural, but is essential to any understanding their perspective. And compassion is a motivator - for behavior and actions that can make a big difference for good in others' lives.

INTEGRITY: Walk your talk. The dictionary defines integrity as "adherence to moral and ethical principles". For me it means doing what you know to be right, even when it feels really bad. It might be one of the hardest values to embody consistently, because I am always making mistakes. But I think of it as deciding to obey the little voice inside (is it conscience? is it God's spirit in me?) even when that voice makes me so mad! Even when I want to stomp on the voice and tell it where to go. When I do choose to walk my talk I feel every so much better - afterwards.  Seems to me that lack of integrity is the cause of a whole lot of the problems in our world.

INTELLECTUAL INDEPENDENCE:  God gave me a mind - I should use it! Allowing other people to fill my mind with beliefs, opinions or ideas that I haven't vetted is lazy at best, damning at worst. The hard part about this value is that thinking is hard work. And what's more, communicating and defending your thoughts and beliefs to others is even harder! But I have found way too many times that going with the flow, and doing/thinking/believing the same things as everyone else, doesn't sync with what I know and what I believe. Homebirth and homeschooling are two big ways I have put thinking for myself into action.

I agree with ARG about honesty and diligence. If you can't trust your friends and family, how depressing. And hard work is just plain necessary to be successful in live. Darn. 

Hopefully, I am in a better position to talk about my values with my kids. If I can just find a way to share that will actually get in their crazy heads and stay there! And maybe, just maybe, some of these values will settle all the way down into their hearts.


Anonymous said...

Good to see you writing agian .I enjoyed it