The summer holidays always bring many activities for our family members to take part. Our church hosted two weeks of activities during the summer—football school (soccer camp) first week, kids’ club (vacation Bible school) the second week. Although some of our children were interested in participating in both weeks, we ultimately decided that they could only join in for one week due to the cost of petrol and the distance of our church, which is 25 miles away from our home. So, how did we decide which week to choose?
I know we’re not the only ones who feel family life is chaotic and frenetic. In much of the West, there is no lack of choice for activities for a family, from the littlest to the oldest. We could attend a programme or activity on every day of the week if we wanted to! I don’t say those things are wrong, but if your family life feels chaotic, it’s probably because you’re too busy.
How do you decide what activities your family takes part in? We started looking at our choices through the lens of some core values for our family. It helps narrow down the multitude of choices we have available, and it also helps relieve any guilt we may have over not doing everything.
What are family values and how do you find them?
I suggest you talk about what is important to your family. For some families, it might be academic excellence, serving your community, or experiential learning opportunities. Whatever that might be, write it down. You may have a lot of things that are important to your family, so write them down. Ideas don’t need to be thrown out just yet.
Ask yourselves what you enjoy doing as a family. Do you enjoy playing board games or practicing hospitality? Do you like getting outdoors?
Next, think about what you want to prioritise from that list as a family. You are a family unit, and as a Christian family, you work as a team, like the body of Christ. So, to keep everyone on the same page, what is the priority for you in your family life? What really gets you so excited that you want to pass that enthusiasm on to your children? We got our children involved in coming up with ideas and then narrow down our values. This brings greater ownership for them, too.
You may find common themes or a couple of key phrases or words keep coming up. Pick three of them. One isn’t enough, every family can achieve two, and three will challenge any family; four muddies the waters too much. We are talking core values, remember? Think of it as Goldilocks and 3 is just right for most families.
There are many benefits to having family values.
They help you choose activities for our family. Do we want our kids to join a sailing club? Art classes or swimming? Does our week have room for the discipleship programme at church (even though discipleship is super important)? If what we want to do fits under one of our three values, then an activity makes the cut. If not, we throw the idea away and try something else.
Having family values takes away any guilt we (ok, mostly I) have about not taking part in all the things other families around us are doing. Some things just are not important to us, and that’s okay.
Our values also help us figure out what habits we need to work on a family to fulfil our values. At the beginning of the year, we decided there were a few things we needed to work on helping achieve the goals we set for each of our family values. I hope to write more on this subject in the future.
We are the gatekeepers of our home.
As parents, we are the gatekeepers of our homes. It is our responsibility to filter what comes in and out of our homes, including the activities and values that you uphold as a family. It’s important to recognise that your family may have different priorities than your neighbours. That is OK.
It is vital to ensure that one’s family values align with the timeless principles outlined in the Bible, specifically Philippians 4:8, which encourages individuals to contemplate whether their choices are truthful, honourable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise. Do your values align with God’s Word? When a family’s values align with these principles, they bring glory to God, which is the ultimate benefit of establishing family values in the home.
Going back to last summer, when given the choice of football school or kids’ club (both equally important, but remember, we couldn’t do both), we chose football school in the end because we felt it fit our family values better. And at the end of the week, Leon and the older children went along to a football match, which fulfilled our value of spending time together as a family.