What Is The Meaning of “Family Values” To You?

By in Parenting on 01 December 2009

Look up “family values” in Wikipedia and it starts like this…

Family values are political and social beliefs that hold the Nuclear family to be the essential ethical and moral unit of society. […]”

I grew up in a family with little interest and discussion about religion nor politics.

In fact, my grandparents (father’s side) are farmers, and my father had his fair share of the farming work in the rice patties and grape fields – even I had my fair share of fun as a boy.

Then I got a little older and moved away from the farming life to the big city life where schools in Taiwan taught you a lot of Confucius beliefs.

One of the “virtues” that was instilled in us is “filial piety”, where Wikipedia puts it elegantly…

“In Confucian ideals, filial piety (Chinese: pinyin: xiào) is one of the virtues to be held above all else: a respect for the parents and ancestors.”

In short, I was taught to pay utmost respect for my parents and elderly.  To me, that means no yelling and talking back to parents, obey the “family rules”, and just plain be obedient, period.  Oh, and showing up at dinner table at dinner time, plus doing all the dishes and among other chores.

Nowadays, try indoctrinate that virtue in your kids.  Good luck!  ‘Cause you’ll need it.

Being a new parent myself, I’m both excited and scared.  I’m excited because I get to see my kids grow up and it is almost like seeing yourself grow up, for a second time.  It gives you this sense of pride and power knowing that you can and will mold a child exactly the way you want him or her to take shape.

Yet, I’m fearful that I simply do not what my influence has on my children – will they turn out “good”, “bad” or “ugly”?  What religion will they believe in?  What political party will they join?  What careers will they have, and most importantly, what kind of “family values” will they teach my grandchildren (oh wait, that’s if they believe in having kids!)?

I’m fearful, “What if my kids don’t have the same values as I do?”

Do I tell myself, “So be it” or do I fight harder to mold them?

What if the way I’m bringing them up gives them a social disadvantage because they are too “obedient” in this practical, self-serving, dog-eat-dog world?

Have you ever thought about any of these?  Or am I too overly worried?

Am I doing the right thing here?

1 Comments For This Post

  1. Tamara Burgh says:

    Thought provoking. In the end, can you really control anything about your child?

    The other day my mother was complaining about a nephew. I asked her what an ideal child, for her, would be. She proceeded to describe him (not “her”, and I’m a her) as a straight A, athletic, high career with a “sweet” wife and two kids (one each) . . . I asked if she would have had anything to do with his successful life. I was shocked to hear her say, “No. He did it all on his own.”

    I was dumbfounded by her comment. She expected the child to “just be”. Then I realized she was born of a farmer Swede from the old country. Farmer Swedes from the turn of the 20th century raised kids to help the parents run the farm. The child was there to serve the parent. End of story.

    Today parents are expected to sacrifice everything for the highest good of the child. In my own lifetime (50+ years) I was raised to have a job, something that would simply take care of me until I got married. Then personal and societal expectations changed. In my 30’s a JOB was “low balling” it. One, married or not, should expect to have a CAREER. In my 40’s the societal expectations were raised to a PASSION and a CALLING — no matter how likely or unlikely one will financially survive on that calling. Society changed that fast in a few short decades.

    Society changes much too fast to prepare or even anticipate the best way to instill “Family Values”. The pregnant girl in my Middle School or High School would have been scandalous. Now it is common place.

    Society changed so fast for my generation; honorable family values and expectations I grew up with became irrelevant, and even detrimental to my physical and emotional well being. I consequently was forced to spend decades trying to redefine what I really believed, what was true and what was honorable.

    Thus, in the end, can a parent really instill values that will work the remainder of a child’s life? Maybe the only real family value is the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” The rest is out of our control.


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