When my son was little we were attempting to teach him the value of money. His grandmother had given him a $5 and we were trying to explain to him what that meant. He didn't seem all that interested in a piece of paper and saw little value in it. That is until we told him that if he took that piece of paper to the ice cream parlor that man would gladly accept his piece of paper for a dish of ice cream. Now that excited my little guy.
When we went to the parlor he proudly walked up to the counter and placed his order. When he received his ice cream he gave the $5 bill to the clerk. As he did he said, "I don't understand it, but for some strange reason you want this piece of paper more than ice cream!"
My son saw more value in ice cream than money and was willing to trade for it. He knew what he valued and was confident in his choice. Communicating what he valued was easy and obvious.
The first step to passing on our values to our children is knowing what we value not just what we say we value.
When we know what we believe and value it is easier to communicate that in a clear way to our children. If we are unsure or confused they will be also. If we are hypocritical in our values they will reject them. If we tell them we value the teachings of the Bible but they never hear us reading the Bible to them they are less likely to believe us.
We all live our values every day. Unfortunately, the way we live isn't always the same as what we say we value. For my son, it was obvious he was willing to sacrifice a "worthless" piece of paper to get what he valued the most. Are we willing to do the same?
(If you have thoughts about how to pass along your values to your children I would love to hear them as well. Get the details here.)