Parenting Principle #1: Family Expectations
Creating a consistent household starts with values. Values are sources of strength and direction for everyone in the family. These can dictate the way the family makes decisions together. Values such as authenticity, honesty, respect, and love can flow into every aspect of the family.
Coming up with values as a family is a great way for everyone to take responsibility for living according to these values. Over time, you can gather your family together and reassess the values you follow. As the family evolves, so can the values.
Answering these questions can help you narrow down your core values
You can choose values by thinking about how you want your family to function. What do you prioritize as a family? How do you want your kids to behave? What do you want them to value as they grow older?
Consider these benefits of implementing values
- Values teach kids to think critically about how they want to behave and navigate through their world. When you model what it looks like to live according to values, your kids are better able to apply these principles in their own lives. As they face confusing situations and difficult decisions, they’ll be able to look to their values and make an informed decision.
- Values implement positive habits. Instead of coming up with expectations out of nowhere, values create a source of expectations. This can make more sense to kids. Knowing the importance of acting according to values will teach positive habits based on what they come to value themselves.
- For example, if they value health, they may develop healthy eating and exercise habits.
- Values help kids make decisions for themselves. When you begin discussing values with your kids, you can show them how they can help guide your decision making. Over time, you can guide them towards choosing things based on their values. Eventually they’ll go through that process themselves.
How can you put values to action?
Having a set of core values helps foster a cohesive family unit. It’s important to clarify how to act according to these values.
What does it look like when you’re being respectful? Based on that value, multiple expectations can be set up. For example, respect looks like treating the home with respect. So, the expectation might be to keep a clean room.
When kids are old enough to participate in these decisions, they’re better able to take ownership of the values and expectations of the household.
If they can set expectations themselves, they’re better able to accept the consequences if they do not meet these expectations.
Expectations provide structure
Children benefit from having structure. Though they may resist it at first, setting up family expectations is a valuable piece of the foundation in a household. The best way to do this is by discussing how you want your values to inform the way your home works.
What does the value of safety look like to you? What do you need to feel safe? Perhaps things such as curfew, driving rules, or treating siblings nicely come into place. Brainstorm as many ideas as you can think of. You can discuss these ideas as new situations present themselves.
Setting Up Effective Expectations
Expectations are most effective when they’re achievable. When kids are repeatedly successful, they gain more confidence and pride in themselves. That doesn’t mean expectations need to be low. Having reasonably high expectations is not a bad thing. They teach your kids that you believe they’re able to meet your standards.
You can expect them to go to science tutoring when you need it, but you don’t have to push them to be an astronaut by the time they are nine-years-old.
When children don’t have consistent and reliable guidance from their parents, they’re more likely to seek out their peers for leadership. This can create a rift between you and your kids and make it more difficult to implement expectations in the future.
Values and expectations are the compass of the family. They help everyone get on the same page about how the family runs. They inform the directions the family takes, and they help sustain closeness as the family evolves.
Expectations let children know what is and is not acceptable. They also teach valuable lessons that kids will carry with them into adulthood.