When someone says they have “family values”, they typically mean that they put their family above all else.
Sometimes, family values also refers to the idea that they uphold certain moral and ethical principles that were instilled in them through their childhood by their parents or other family members.
These principles ostensibly guide their behavior, decision-making, and importantly, affect who they will choose to have a relationship with (the idea being that they seek someone else whose personal values embrace the same family values as them).
Definition of Family Values
The term ‘family values’ is vague and contextual to the point you may have to ask the person who says they have family values to unpack what it means to them.
Key ideas that it might entail include:
- Valuaing behaviors and morals that are conducive to the raising of children
- Valuing the behaviors and morals that were given to you by your parents
- Valuing and loving your family above all else
The term is also often used as shorthand to suggest a traditional or conservative perspective on ethics and morality, often associated with strong beliefs in traditional marriage, the importance of the role of the parent, respect for authority figures within the family, and sometimes even religious principles (such as principles about the family found in religious texts or teachings).
For example, someone who adheres to “family values” in a traditional or conservative sense may prioritize a same-sex marriage that can lead to raising children and maintaining a stable family unit. They may place high importance on traditional gender roles within the family. Similarly, there may be a sense of commitment to family activities that are conducive to raising a well-mannered child.
Nevertheless, as I’m sure many of my readers would argue, many people’s idea of ‘family values’ may differ from the conservative image outlined above, and again I’d refer back to the idea that ‘family values’ is a rather vague concept, sometimes to the point of being entirely meaningless beyond saying “I think family is extremely important to me.”
Family Values Examples
The below examples of family values may represent what many people mean when they use the term, but as I hope I’ve already stressed, the term’s vagueness means it is hard to pin-down exactly what someone means when they use the term.
1. Family First
When referring to family values, we’re often referring to the fact that we place family above all else. We need to have this mindset in order to be good providers to our children.
When individuals make a conscious decision to put their families first it sends the message that their loved ones’ well-being takes precedence over other competing interests.
This can manifest itself in various ways – be it spending more quality time together by scheduling regular outings or setting aside time for meaningful bonding activities; making personal adjustments (changing work schedules or geographic location), and ensuring uninterrupted quality time at home even in the face of outside obligations.
Prioritizing family provides emotional support where members can depend on each other for encouragement, guidance and fulfilment of shared values.
Moreover, putting family first lays the foundation for passing down valuable lessons including teamwork, collaboration and empathy towards others – qualities that shape children into emotionally intelligent adults capable of nurturing relationships towards building stronger communities.
Loyalty is a fundamental value that plays a crucial role in building strong and healthy families. It refers to the commitment and dedication that members have towards each other, especially during challenging times.
Loyalty is demonstrated when family members support and defend each other through thick and thin, regardless of their personal opinions or disagreements.
For instance, if one family member faces an adverse situation, all others must come forward without any delay or hesitation to stand by them.
Loyalty also means supporting one another’s goals and aspirations while helping them overcome any obstacles they might encounter along the way.
Moreover, loyalty helps to maintain family bonds even through turbulent times such as financial hardships or unexpected life events such as illnesses or deaths. Having strong relationships with family members ensures no one feels alone in difficult situations resulting in more positive communal outcomes – be it sharing resources or emotional support.
3. Caring for One Another
Caring for one another is an essential family value that facilitates the development of meaningful relationships, support systems, and emotional well-being. It refers to the act of showing concern for each other’s physical, emotional, and social needs.
Caring for one another is demonstrated by sharing responsibilities and helping out in everyday tasks such as cooking a meal together or offering assistance with household chores or errands. The ability to make small gestures shows an interest in contributing to another person’s comfort.
Emotional support is equally important when it comes to caring in a family context. It involves being there for family members through challenging times such as sicknesses, breakups or job losses – offering a listening ear as well as words of encouragement.
Family members who practice compassion and empathy towards each other in all circumstances creates strong bonds within the unit – leading to better mental health outcomes including reduction in stress levels, anxiety or depression.
When it’s time to settle down and raise a family, people often return to small towns or tight-knit communities where they can ‘put down roots’. Part of the appeal of this is that you can have a close-knit and safe community in which you can raise your children.
A solid community that cares for its children fosters the creation of supportive and positive social networks beyond the immediate household.
Being part of a community allows family members to form meaningful relationships with others outside their home and provides opportunities to engage in activities that can be beneficial for the entire family. Children learn new things and broaden their horizons from interacting with various members of society including building social skills.
Community involvement teaches children that as members of a larger group, we are responsible towards contributing positively towards the betterment of others too.
5. Quality Time
In today’s fast-paced and technology-driven world, quality time has become an extremely valuable commodity for many families. It refers to the time that family members spend together in meaningful ways, building strong connections and relationships with each other.
Often, when we talk about wanting a partner with family values, we’re using it as a shorthand to say we want to be with someone who has time for their family.
Quality time is also important because it helps to create a sense of security and belonging within the family unit. When children feel loved, valued, and supported by their parents and siblings, they are more likely to develop self-confidence and a positive self-image which makes them emotionally stronger individuals ready for challenges in life.
By spending quality time together, families can also establish traditions that hold significance throughout generations. Simple weekend routines or holiday traditions can be the glue that keeps everyone close-knit even when busy schedules may be pulling them apart.
Related: The 8 Types of Values
It is very common to hear the phrase ‘family values’ being promoted by religious adherents, whereby they believe their religion teaches values that are conducive to a good family life.
Religion can provide a sense of structure and order within family life, with regular attendance at services, prayer, or other rituals creating an anchor or routine for families to come back to.
Having a shared faith can also promote strong moral and ethical principles among family members. Faith-based values such as love, forgiveness, compassion and humility become central tenets within families that help guide them in making decisions throughout life.
7. Hard Work
Hard work and work ethic are important family values that emphasize the importance of diligence, perseverance, and responsibility towards one’s professional or personal goals.
This value embodies the discipline to continuously strive for success by setting and achieving measurable targets as a marking of progress.
Teaching hard work within families can set children on the path to establishing a successful life and avoiding a path of delinquence. They learn that sustained commitment is required beyond any instant gratification periods in order to achieve long term rewards.
Work ethic also helps instill a sense of pride and accomplishment when meeting targets and achieving desired results thereby increasing self-esteem.
Moreover, embodying this value teaches children discipline necessary for both academic pursuits as well as any personal projects they may undertake in life – hobbies that bring them joy too!
As parents model industrious behavior within their careers it sets an example for their children about financial management – showing how only diligent effort can lead to their dreams being met.
Honesty is a critical family value that emphasizes the importance of having truthfulness, integrity and transparency in all interactions and relationships within the immediate household.
Honesty ensures that every individual understands the value of telling the truth, being transparent in their communication, actions or even intentions. This involvement strengthens emotional ties and builds a solid foundation of trust – one where mutual respect thrives.
By establishing honesty as a core family value, parents or guardians can set an example for how children communicate with each other.
They understand that dishonest behavior damages foundations of communication – creating strife- leading to difficulty problem solving – thereby making interpersonal relationships challenging overt time.
Moreover, imparts important life skills- understanding personal ownership of consequences while boosting self-awareness beyond just instant gratification living.
Honesty reinforces community values by demonstrating appropriate ways to navigate difficult conversations and maintain a strong reputation within your work and social environments.
Respectfulness highlights the significance of treating each other with courtesy, consideration and equality.
When family members treat each other with respect, it leads to better communication, better understanding and more positive engagement in day-to-day activities. This is because everyone feels valued and appreciated which helps foster good relations among everybody irrespective of differences that may exist.
Respect in a family context also involves recognizing individual choices and genuinely considering the opinions of each family member during shared decision-making processes- whether big or small.
When all members feel heard and considered when varying viewpoints are given fair weightage it results in more productive outcomes.
Moreover, fostering respect helps instill an environment for children where they are encouraged to be kind towards others, promoting empathy and strong character development.
Accountability as a family value refers to the idea that family members should be responsible for their actions and decisions, and are willing to accept the consequences of those actions.
One of the ways in which accountability becomes a family value is through communication. When family members communicate openly and honestly with each other, they are more likely to hold themselves accountable for their behavior.
For example, if one family member makes a mistake or behaves inappropriately, they should be held accountable by others in the family who are affected by their actions.
Another way in which accountability can become a family value is by setting clear expectations and boundaries.
Parents need to establish rules and guidelines for behavior within the family unit so that everyone knows what is expected of them. When these expectations are violated, it is important for there to be consequences that reinforce the importance of being accountable.
When accountability becomes one of the core values of a family unit, it not only leads to better communication but also helps build strong relationships based on mutual trust and respect.
Additional Family Values
Related Article: The Sociology of Values (Why do we have values, anyway?)
While the term ‘family values’ is vague and depends upon the person using it, it generally points toward a mindset of a person whose personal qualities are rooted in family. For these people, family comes above all else, and they behave in a way that is conducive to raising children in a wholesome, safe, and morally upstanding environment. While all families need to come up with their own set of values to live by, generally, if a person says they seek a mate with good family values, they’ll be looking for someone with love and loyalty to their family before anything else.
Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education. [Image Descriptor: Photo of Chris]