“Mom, what time is dinner?”

“Honey, the soccer game is 6:30 can you pick-up the kids?”

“I have a board meeting tonight and I won’t be at the piano recital.”

“MOM!! He won’t share the computer again!”

FAMILY…they are the people joined to you by blood, marriage, household or adoption. The average American family looks very different than it did 30 years ago. Whether it’s a nuclear, blended, adoptive or single parent family, the business of life can blur our value systems. As a clinical family therapist in Riverview, I often see the erosion of fundamental family values.

Family values are functions, roles, beliefs and attitudes that we collectively live by.  They are the life lessons that are taught through tradition within a family. They include ideals like high moral standards and discipline. For example, many families hand down the tradition of the Golden Rule. It says, “Do unto to others as you would have them do unto you.” Other family values may be based on work ethic and commitment to the completion of a task. It’s important to note family values may look different based on culture. However, at the end of the day, the family value most revered and preserved is love.

As we look at a changing world where value systems are continuously being called into question, here are some simple ways that you can invite and establish lasting value system in your home. Spend quality time together. If it’s possible, push to have dinner daily as a family. Did you know that only *40% of American families eat dinner together three or fewer times each week? Another startling fact is 10% never eat together at all. Families can reconnect, share and build traditions when they break bread together. The dinner table time is an excellent place for families to connect in spirit (prayer), mind(healthy communication) and body (good nutrition). During those family dinners, listen with empathy and speak with love.

When time and finances permit, spend time away as a unit and enjoy family vacations. You can also do the same with holidays. During those gatherings, take the time to share those traditions and beliefs that guid your life. Tell stories as a way to impart those ideals. Instead of saying, “This how it’s always been done!” provide a real world application for others who may not come from the same exact experience. Making new memories can be an exciting part of the family journey.

My practice also offers Christian counseling, and those families have put their focus on a higher power through Jesus. They worship together and pray together. They live by the belief that, “A family that prays together stays together.” Taking the time to seek God collectively as a family is a practice in word and deed. My sister has two children and she teaches them biblically based family values. She tells her children to love God first, then self and treat others as they would their own family.  A great way to further family values is to write a family mission statement. It declares to the family and the world- the great beliefs that you are governed by. Leaving a standard and a legacy that is within your family for generations to come.

Finally, seek new ways to execute long standing values systems. In my home, we value family time, every time. Some Thanksgivings, we spend time with our in-laws. Some Christmas holidays we enjoy traditional ethnic cusine instead of the traditional holiday meal; Either way, we celebrate the tradition of love.

Whatever family values you espouse, I invite you to keep them active and invite your children to embrace them. Family is the backbone of our society and what you impart into your unique family values,  determines how strong of a foundation our society has.


For support on how to create a family mission statement visit: http://www.artofmanliness.com/2013/08/21/creating-a-family-culture-how-and-why-to-create-a-family-mission-statement/

*Dinner stats-national survey conducted by Eckrich, a product of ConAgra Foods