Tuesday, September 27, 2005

What are Family Values

Here is a set of values in the form of old-fashioned balance scales. The principle is to balance the item on one side, with the weights on the other side. This will determine the value of the gold nuggets or other objects. Each weight has a price on it, which is added up.

When this system was used, there was, on occasion, someone who would put what was called a "false value" on the value side of the scale. This meant that the person trying to sell his product, would have to put more and more on the other side of the scale, in order to balance the heavier weights that were put on the other side. Conversely, the other side of the scale could be filled with worthless products made to weigh enough to bring a good price.

Imagine spiritual values as a balance scale, with the Bible on one side, and your life on the other, to see if your practices and beliefs measure up.

We hear the term "family values" tossed about quite a bit these days. You may rent a film that claims to have family values in it, but find it doesn't match your values at all. What one family thinks is a family value, may not be so valued by another family. So let us have a look at what family values are all about. Just like the false values used on the scale to cheat people out of their rightful pay, false values concerning the family, abound. There is the popular "values clarification," designed by change agents, to re-define biblical values of honesty, trust, faith, goodness and obedience.

This is just my own opinion, and my own definition of "family values:" In general, family values are whatever your family values the most and is willing to preserve. Things that offend you, might be violations of principles that you value.

To give an example, my dream has always been to have a wonderful, strong, happy, and cohesive family. There seem to be forces that work over time trying to break that down. Some media or person will tell my children something that is contrary to what my husband and I want for them. They will be told that certain things just "don't matter" and that their parents just need to "get over it."

If you've ever watched "The Quiet Man," you'll see that things that Irish culture at that time valued, were being somewhat challenged by the quiet man who had just entered the society after a prolonged stay in America. He couldn't understand why it was so important to have the blessings and approval of the family before marrying someone. He couldn't understand why the dowry was important. It wasn't his custom, and he didn't value it like they did. Happily, in the end, the values of that family won out, and the couple seemed to be uplifted by honoring those beliefs.

Maybe the mother or wife values clean clothes. Maybe she doesn't like the members of her family to smell bad. Maybe she appreciates their shirts being tucked in, or buttoned. Perhaps the husband wants his tools taken care of and always put back on the hook they belong on.

The married couple might value order in the home, or eating meals at a set time each day. I particularly don't like 4 or 5 different people coming in at different times and trying to prepare meals or want meals served to them. My opinion is that if they missed a meal that was being served at our standard time (SST: Sherman Standard Time), they missed it. They don't get to mess up the kitchen and disturb everyone around them by rustling up some grub or wanting it rustled for them.

Some people want to have a family where anything goes. They view it as an escape from restrictions and rules. They think that casualness and rudeness are okay, since it is "just family."

When one of my children comes into the home, I want their speech to be decent, and I want them to pick up after themselves. I don't want them to trash the house or leave the sink dirty. That, to me, is a family value. I don't like anyone to bring people into the home who do not share my values. It makes me uncomfortable and nervous. Now, if they want to sit and listen to me and comply with some of my values, that might be another matter.

I don't like loud music, rock or classical, in my home. (I love classical music, but not played loudly.) That's one of the things I value. I don't like stern words to exchange between us. My husband doesn't want the grown children to be critical of him or his way of life. We like the yard to look nice, without trash in it or old pieces of equipment from a truck that was being fixed. We want people to respect our property. Those are our values.

Some other things our family values are: dressing respectfully, speaking respectfully, forgiveness for wrongs (not throwing past mistakes in your face), refraining from the worldly practice of "dating." We value homeschooling, and practicing good health habits. We like pleasant looking, well cared-for rooms in our houses, and we like afternoon teas with friends or with people who need encouragement. But, when they come to see us, we want them to respect our family values. We don't want the girls coming in immodest clothing.

I like my family to respect my house and the atmosphere of the home. When we share meals, I don't like too much silly talk. I like to have fun, but I want my family to have a special bond that the rest of the world does not share, so I want some of the things we exchange, to have some value and some depth. I want us to build each other up, by sharing information and insights that will help us overcome various obstacles, and live a life with wings.

I think that most people aren't aware of the techniques that are breaking down these values. Some of the family atmosphere is broken down by the way young people begin to live while in college dorms, or when away from home while rooming with others. They lose the sense of the family structure and the family values when their daily lives are without the parents and siblings. They may also drift from morning to morning without changing clothes, or having defined times for meals. Friends may drop by at any hour, and there is no protocol. Casualness sets in, and life loses its meaning, little by little. They may not spend their time wisely, using much of it just "hanging out" at someone else's house. They may rebel against bathing regularly. Sloppy clothing and sloppy living may become a habit, which they bring back into their own homes. This creates conflict, as they may attempt to break down their own family's stricter code of living, when they return home.

There is also the pattern of authority in the home. The owners of the home should rule over the activities and atmosphere and decor of the house. Yet sometimes, others, in subordinate positions, want to come in and break down that structure. There are things we all like or dislike, and when confronted with them, we weigh them against the standards we have developed over the years, or been taught from our own parents.

I find myself using this set of values often. Someone calls up and wants me to go to something, and automatically I'm weighing it against the list of personal responsiblities I have and the actual value of the activity. While the activity may be harmless, I'm considering things like time that may be lost, or whether or not it has enough spiritual value to warrant my taking part in it. We can use our set of values when shopping (do I need it, will it be in a garage sale a year later, could I save the money, will it be a valuable asset to the family, etc.) and we can use our set of values when considering how to best spend our time (will it put me behind in urgent housework, will it prevent me from attending Bible study later on, will it make me too tired, etc.) and we can use our set of values when it comes to our relationships.

Family values are the ideals and principles you value the most. Our family values may be different than other people's. What are some of your family values?


Anonymous said...

Dear Lady Lydia,

I cannot express how grateful I am for your articles which have taught me so much. One of the wonderful things that you teach, that others have neglected, is to honor our parents. I am seeking the Lord with all my heart how best to accomplish this. I am the youngest of 10 children. And have very elderly parents. My Dad is 81 and my mom is almost 80. My older brother, who never married lives with them and helps them alot. However, my mom is very ill and Dad is pretty worn out from taking care of her night after night. The problem I have is that we live in Idaho. My husband is in the Airforce and has to leave for Afghanistan in January. I mentioned to my parents that I would like to stay with them while my husband is away.
I homeschool our children and we have carefully guarded our home from worldly influences from the moment our children arrived. We have 3 precious children: 11, 8 and 3. When I offered to stay with my parents to help them, I did not realize how they had changed in their old age. They have the TV during much of the time and do not turn it off during the most vile commercial. Their home is very small. How on earth would I be able to homeschool and train my children in such an environment. I have tried to carefully address this problem with them before, but they seem to fall back into the same routine even when we visit them. My dad loves his sports and Mom likes her "old shows" most are very wholesome like "little house on the prairie" but the commercials are unbearable. The other problem is that my Mother-in-law lives only a few hours from them. She is very liberal and has different values from us. She has pressured us into having the children stay with her for long visits. How will I handle this too, with my husband thousands of miles away. I know that it is so true what you wrote. "It is a sacred duty to care for your elderly parents." But what about my three precious children who need guarding? To make things even more difficult, I do have a heart arithmia (atrial fibrillation) and stressful situations like the one I mentioned do not help. I would so greatly appreciate your godly advice. Thanks!!

May the Lord richly bless you for all that you have done to strengthen women in their calling.

Kathleen McMullen tkmcmullen5@msn.com

Lydia said...

This article seems to be written so long ago!

Your parents have others that can care for them. Your children do not. You are the firstly responsible to guide your children spiritually and physically. That is your duty. There are others who are looking after their parents but their children are in their teen years or older, and are able to help. Some people are empty-nesters and are able to spare the time. If you feel the family would not be a good influence on your children, it would be better to maintain control of your own family. I have found, however, that living in the same town is sometimes a help. Pushy relatives won't want you spend the night with them, or ask to spend the night with you. They all have their own beds to sleep in. The ads on tv are really awful. Old people watch tv because they need the comfort of it. It is like having a family standing around a hearth. The light of the tv is like the light of the fireplace; the voices like the family. It fills their minds and their times. It robs them of their creativity, which should come forth even more in old age (writing, painting, hobbies). It saps their minds so they cannot speak wisdom. It corrupts them, just like it would impressionable young people. They can be persuaded to vote liberally, after a steady diet of tv and the ads. Well, enough of that. Your children are your first priority.