What is the legacy you most want to leave with your children?
Is it to give them a good education?
Is it to give them a comfortable life?
Is it to help them develop their talents, skills and gifts?
Is it to teach them to be optimistic and happy?
OR IS IT TO TEACH THEM VALUES?
If you had a magic wand that had only one wish in it, would you wave it over your kids and bequeath to them health? Or financial success? Or good grades in school? Or protection from accident or harm? Or would you give them good values which would influence every choice and decision they make?
It has been said that good, solid, time-honored values are the gift that keeps on giving, because once a child has truly internalized true values, it influences, every day, the person he or she will become.
And while all parents everywhere wish for and try to give safe, conservative values to their kids (it has been said that a good definition of a "conservative" is "a flaming liberal with a teenage daughter"), good values are particularly important to Mormon parents. We know that the Restored Gospel is the source of God's values … of the ways he wants us to live.
Someone has called God's values or commandments "loving council from a wise Father."
Is there an organized, consistent, effective way to give your children the legacy of true and internalized values? There is, and it involves three key things: consistency, repetition and example. And here's some good news (and good motivation): Tens of thousands of parents around the world are engaged in a "value of the month" program where they focus on ONE particular value each month. The idea is that there are 12 universal values that everyone wants for their kids, and that by concentrating on one of the 12 each month we can ingrain them into our children's souls (not to mention into our own.) And by starting over on the same list of 12 each year, the consistency and repetition start to work! (After all, a 10-year-old will learn a particular value on a different level than he could last year when he was 9.)
The 12 values are:
Loyalty and dependability (January)
Unselfishness and sensitivity (April)
Kindness and friendliness (May)
Justice and mercy (July)
Self-reliance and potential (October)
Self-discipline and moderation (November)
Fidelity and chastity (December)
For your new year's resolution, consider the following: Simply resolve to focus on one value each month within your family. Put a banner up somewhere with the month's value. Look for examples (positive and negative) of the value every day — on TV, with kids' friends, in everyday life. For stories, methods and ideas to teach the value of the month to various age groups, go to the "Value of the Month" at valuesparenting.com/monthly_value.php.
It is reassuring and motivational to know that many of thousands of other parents, all across the globe, are working on the same value each month — having some successes and some failures, just like you!
The Eyres are the founders of Joy Schools and of valuesparenting.com and the authors of numerous best-selling books on marriage, parenting and family. Their mission statement, developed while presiding over the England London South Mission, is FORTIFY FAMILIES by celebrating commitment, popularizing parenting, bolstering balance and validating values. Their next book is "5 Spiritual Solutions for Everyday Parenting Problems." Visit their blog at www.deseretnews.com/blog.