“But everyone is doing it!” Words like these often make parents doubt the influence of their personal value system on their children, and whether children more easily accept the values and norms of the social majority.
As a parent your norms and values obviously have an influence on your children’s thoughts and values – it is, after all, your duty as parent to equip your child to think critically and to look at things with an inquiring mind, rather than simply accepting or rejecting certain social customs. At the same time, it is important not to force your views on your child.
Remember, children are social beings with a need to belong to a group and to feel important. This need can lead to them practising values that are not necessarily in line with your values as a parent. That said, there are several things you can do to help your child develop a healthy value system from a young age.
- Confront your child with complex issues and allow him to form his own opinion. Children must be taught to model their decisions on their principles of belief, consequences and responsibilities. Use everyday events to help your child “practise” facing value judgements.
- Share your experiences with your child. Explain when you had made the right decisions and when you were wrong. As parent you should also apologise if you are in the wrong.
- Hold your child accountable for wrong decisions. Never allow your child to disregard his responsibilities – even if it is something as simple as feeding the family pets.
- Help your child develop Christian principles by following those principles yourself. There is a saying that goes: “Children don’t do what you say, they do what you do.” Be a positive role model for your child.
- Involve your child in healthy activities. Allow your child to participate in healthy social activities and encourage charitable work.
- Praise your child when he acts correctly.
It remains your responsibility as parent to raise an independent, thinking child with a good value system so that he can responsibly hold his own in society.