Lay the groundwork for summer – Connection Parenting Style

Let’s talk about what values are and what they are not. Values are not about conventional wisdom.  They are your compass. Values define who you are, what you do and what you stand for, not what you have or don’t have.

Your values are present even when there is noise and outside distractions.  Values don’t really change. You anchor to a value.

Values actually make life easier for us.  They give us the “permission” that we are sometimes looking for to not do something that we don’t really want to do. Values make it much easier to shut out the distractions and move forward to the life you want and the life that you choose. They are freeing instead of constricting.

Values are not something that should be “put upon” you.  There are moral human values, like you shouldn’t steal or harm anyone, and then there are personal values that are, well, personal.

Families can have both individual values, as well as family values. Let’s dive in.

5 – Day Challenge Outline: 

Watch the corresponding videos and use the workbook for your action steps.

Day 1 – What are your personal values?

Day 2 – How to gather information from your family to be able to formulate family values

Day 3 – How to come to consensus for what the agreed upon family values are

Day 4 – Boundaries around the family values

Day 5 – What happens when boundaries are broken or values are bent?

Day 1 – What are your top 3 personal values?

Let’s take some time to define the things that are important to YOU.  

What is most important to you in your daily life right now?  Try not to overthink this. 

Values are the microdecisions that we make over time that have big impacts.  Part of working with our own values is to know and get comfortable with the fact that your values may not look like other people’s values…and that’s okay.  

It’s also important to know what your own values are because when you know what your own values are, it’s easier to “stay in your own lane” because you know that you are taking care of yourself and others will take care of themselves as they see fit.  It’s a conscious decision and personal choice. Values provide guardrails to keep us focused on us and out of judgment of others.

Take 15 min or so today and ask yourself the question:  

What are my values?  

(not your families values, not your parent’s values, not the values that you think you “should” list) 

A suggestion for how to start is to take a look at the list provided below.  You can circle 10 of those that resonate or jump out to you and add whatever comes to mind that isn’t listed.

Once you have that list of 10 – whittle it down to the 3 that are most important to YOU. What feels grounding and comforting to you that you can relax into. What would you like to be the programming for your auto-pilot?

Here is a list that you can use for inspiration:

List of Values – see also below

Here is some music to help get you into a calm and relaxed state of mind:

Calming Music

List of Values

connection parenting community

Day 2 – What are your Family Values?

How to gather information from your family to be able to formulate family values

You may be saying, great Jenny, that was fun yesterday actually sitting and thinking about my own values, but how do I get input and capture that information from my family?  Can’t I just use my own values?  Can I just say what I think our family values are and call it good?

I understand that and felt the same way when I started doing this work for my own family.

If you want buy-in, cooperation and the whole family to understand the “why” that you get from this incredible “tool”, there is a little bit of heavy lifting that goes in on the front end, and that’s where we are now.

I will ask you to go through a similar process with your family that you went through for yourself yesterday.

Let me give you some different approaches to go about gathering the info or to introduce the idea of brainstorming ideas for family values.  

The keys for success:

    • Have conversations when everyone is emotionally regulated.  
    • When everyone feels emotionally safe
    • When ears are open
    • When the front brain is online and everyone is ready to engage and receive through listening.

Family meeting – if you’ve never done one before, this is probably NOT the best way to introduce the concept to the family.  If you do have Family meetings on a regular basis, throw this topic out to have the fam think about it before your next meeting.

Dinner conversation – Build your own pizza, taco night, chili with fixin’s are a great way to get everyone connected, engaged and present in the moment.  

~ Once everyone that is engaged in being together you can start lobbing in questions for group discussion. You can say something like,” this is fun, we should do this more often.” “I really like when we are doing things together as a family, or in teamwork with one another”, or something else that might relate to ideas that you have for family values. 

~Then, you listen.  Wait for feedback. Wait for responses.  Ask follow up questions.  

~That could look like,” oh, is that only something that I’m thinking about?  Well what else do you think that is something that we stand for as a family?”  “Where do you see us coming together united?” “ What types of things do you see us enjoying or working together for as a family?”  

~See where the conversation goes from there.  You are just fact gathering at this point.  

Talk with each child or family member individually to see what their ideas for family values could be.  You can tell them about your exercise, share some ideas to start the brainstorming and see what they come up with for the family as a whole.

Day 3

How to come to consensus for what the agreed upon family values are and connect them to boundaries.

So we talked about values being like a compass or a roadmap to make life and decisions easier.  Well, boundaries are the guardrails on the roads of our lives.  

Or if we use the analogy of a house, values are our home and boundaries are the pipes, walls, doors and windows.  (Foundation – otherwise in Needs terms – Safety & Security)

Once you have a list from the family members about what each of their thoughts are around values, it’s time to get a consensus on what you would like to adopt as a family.  This is an incredibly powerful opportunity for discussion, even with kids as young as 3.  Find out what they all think and feel when the different words come up.  If people feel strongly about their own suggestions, but no one else seems interested, let that person know that they can adopt that as one of their own personal values and commend them for that.

I would suggest anywhere from 3-5 would be good to land on as a family unit – or team!  These will be the values that you stand for as a family.  Values that unify and strengthen you as a family unit. Values that become non-negotiable and that everyone can get behind or agree on, or at least see the importance.  Values should make the kids feel calm, rooted, and secure.  These should not be values that they feel are being pushed on them or where they are digging their heels into the dirt.

Keep in mind from the video that words matter.  They evoke emotion, so keep them more open and expansive versus tight, rigid and constricting.  Ex: You may have had the value of respect in your house growing up. Another way to say that where the emotion is less authoritative or demanding is that “we treat others the way that you would want to be treated.” Same sentiment but the words invoke a different meaning.  So if people are getting hung up on words, get curious, ask them if it’s the word rather than what’s behind the sentiment of the value.  It could be a good time to get the Thesaurus out, or play around with words to see what else they might be able to come up with.  

Another example from my house was limiting screen time.  It’s not really a value, so we played around with words and the feeling behind the sentiment.  We landed on making time to learn and explore together. (off-screens was the unwritten part of this value, which leads us into the discussion about boundaries for tomorrow.

Day 4 – Boundaries around the family values

Now that you have consensus built around family values (the framework for the house), it’s time to put together boundaries (the support mechanisms within the house). Boundaries based in values help everyone to understand the reason WHY – which is so often the first question that comes up when it’s time to engage the boundary. Now, if needed, instead of just saying “Because, I said so” or “it’s just time!”.  You can remind them about the reason why the boundary is there.

This is a great time of year for this exercise as we are moving into Summer.  This is a transition time for everyone and it’s good to be able to all get on the same page.  Summer means expansion, growth, stretching your wings and letting loose a little bit. It’s a time when we change schedules and we get a little more relaxed, or have the hope to become a little more relaxed.

Boundaries provide structure, but when they are based on family values, they are the loving guardrails, or a safe container, instead of being put in place with force and rigidity.  This was a tough concept for me to grasp based on my own upbringing.

Boundaries can provide:

  • Daily Routines with an understanding of developmentally age appropriate expectations of a child’s mental, physical and spiritual development.
  • Supportive belief systems
  • Connected and Intentional Communication

“Either your values are real or they’re not – understand the choices that you have and then you choose how you respond”.  ~ Richard

This is a great quote from a friend of mine and fellow parent coach.

When the family has come to a truly agreed upon set of values, there is buy in and only one clear answer when faced with conflicts, adversity or questionable situations. There are also permanent boundaries and evolving boundaries, based on age for example.

Examples could be:

Permanent value/ boundary:  Respect/ We treat others the way that we would want to be treated.

Evolving value/boundary: Taking care of our bodies/ Stick with a consistent bedtime and bedtime routine

Day 5 – What happens when boundaries are broken or values are bent?

What are we supposed to do when things go off the rails or when boundaries are broken?

When boundaries that have been set based on values are broken, and they will be, it’s a great opportunity to explore solutions together.

When everyone’s emotions have calmed down and everyone is regulated, sit down together and have the child retrace what happened.  Without judgment, ask what played out for the child, with actual and intentional curiosity.  This gives the child the permission to recollect with the lens of curiosity as well instead of being defensive.

Let’s use an example of a family value of loving and respecting each other, with the boundary of not hitting, cursing at or hurting any member of our family.

  • Let’s say the 7 year old and the 13 year old get into a shouting match.  
  • Insults are thrown back and forth, pushing starts and the 7 year old takes their phone and throws it across the room. (Not that this has ever happened, purely imaginative scenario)
  • Mom hears the commotion and comes in before the kicking starts.  
  • She takes a breath, calmly steps in between them and asks them each to go sit in separate chairs, take their hands and rub their thighs (this takes them out of their heads and back into their bodies) , look out the window for 3 minutes and then come back for a conversation. 
  • She shuts down the blame game that starts and says, “I’m here to remind us all about the family value that we all agreed upon where we love and respect each other. We have a boundary of not hitting, cursing at or hurting any member of our family. That is not what I saw happening here.  I’m not looking for any excuses or blame, I’m looking for solutions that we can come up with together so that we can stop that before it happens again in the future.” – Brainstorming solutions begin after a few minutes of stewing in the unease. (This is called an Empowered Conversation)

The absolute best tool that I can provide you, as a parent, for ANY parenting scenario is the following:  The P.E.A.C.E. process

P – Presence

E – Empathy

A – Acknowledge what is true

C – Conscious Communication

E – Explore Solutions Together

© 2021 Jai Institute for Parenting l All Rights Reserved

The reason why this is the perfect time of year to adopt this strategy around Values and Boundaries is that it gives everyone in the family an opportunity to unify and connect while still setting safe space/guardrails for everyone to grow and expand.

Certainly the boundaries for a toddler will be different than for a tween or teen, but the family value will still be the same.