A former college president, concerned over the unpreparedness of too many students, advised parents to not be afraid to say no when needed. Letting your children know that there are some things that members of your family simply do not do is vital.
It has been rightly said that parenting is not a popularity contest. Parents must have the courage to teach in a way that children will know exactly what is expected of them, and why it's so important.
To effectively teach family values to your children takes some planning. First of all, you and your spouse need to discuss and decide what your values are. What do you stand for? You must have your own convictions firmly in mind if you intend for them to be planted firmly in the minds of your children.
Once you have established these values, and both of you support them, you can move forward in teaching them to your children. If you are a single parent, move forward on your own. A strong and loving parent can make all the difference.
Teaching can be done in many ways. Here are a few suggestions
1. Be specific
If you think a comment like, "Now, be a good girl," is enough you are sadly mistaken. They need to know what being good means-in very specific terms. That's when the real teaching begins. If you want your child to be honest, make that point perfectly clear with a statement like, "We don't cheat on tests. No matter what anyone else does, we don't cheat. We study hard and do our best, but we never cheat."
Then teach why that's a pathway to failure in life. No one wants to hire a cheater. No one wants to marry a cheater. Jails are full of cheating, dishonest people. Give examples in your own life when you or someone you know learned the value of being honest.
2. Teach the "why" behind the rule
There is always a good reason why parents have certain standards. If children understand why this rule is important they are more likely to abide by it. If, for instance, you're teaching about the dangers of under-age drinking, have an article handy-one that tells of a teenager involved in an accident while under the influence of alcohol. Let them see the tragic results.
You may also find it helpful to show them this quick list of "Tips for Teens: The Truth About Alcohol". Arm them with facts. For a humorous nudge that shows parents responding to a drinking situation watch "Don't Be a Bobblehead Parent."
3. Be kind and understanding in your teaching
For example, let's say you have decided the proper age for dating is sixteen. According to psychologist Leslie Beth Wish, "Sixteen-and even a bit older- is a good age for dating, provided that the teen is mature." Start teaching this family rule before your child becomes a teenager. Let it get implanted firmly in their minds before the desire to date comes along. Even so, your daughter still may say, "But Suzie gets to date now, and she's only fourteen. Why can't I?"
Be understanding and firm. Simply say, "I know that sounds fun, nevertheless the dating age in our family is sixteen." Then encourage her to have a party with a few friends, boys and girls, closely chaperoned by you or another parent with your same values, where no dating is involved. Make sure you approve of the party plans. Help make it fun.
4. Show examples of people making wise choices regarding moral values
The famed singer Adele stands out as one who embraces modesty in dress and behavior. Her fame in the music world is unprecedented. "Her trademark dress of a long-sleeved black dress with a lacey overlay is almost startling in this era where most female singers strut onstage in tight and degradingly revealing outfits. Nor does she prance or dance when she sings. 'I don't make music for eyes, I make music for ears,' she has said."
Do a little searching and find other examples of people you admire with values you hold dear. Share them with your kids.
5. Listen to your kids
Parents can teach best when you are listening to the concerns of your children. When they are sharing about a mistake they may have made, don't look shocked and horrified. Ask how they feel and what they will do next time. After all, there is nothing like a little experience to help a kid learn a lesson the hard way.
Lastly, enjoy living your values. Have fun as a family doing things that promote healthy, moral behavior. Let them see that being good is the happiest way to live. That's the kind of love kids desperately need today.