Family Values – that’s such a loaded term these days. Don’t worry, I have no intention of discussing the pop culture meaning and definition of the term. Instead, I’ve been thinking about what my family values – what we are intentionally teaching our boys.
Right now, both D (10) and P (9) are at camp in Colorado. They’ll spend a month camping, hiking, horseback riding, and rock climbing. It sounds like high-adventure and it is. It is also a huge maturation process and that’s why we sent them. They are testing their own limits and learning just how much they are capable on their own. They are learning how to live in community with others – conflict resolution & friendship building. They are trying out the moral code we’ve instilled in them so far and seeing how it works for them.
Last summer when D returned from camp, we brought home a camp tradition and instilled it in our family – the Code of Living. Each year at camp, the campers and counselors get together and decide on the values they believe are critical to developing a healthy and intentional community. They post it everywhere and it becomes some combination of rulebook and utopian aspiration. At the end of the camp term, the campers and counselors honor the kids who have best lived up to The Code of Living.
So in an experiment last year, our family tried this out. Before the school year started, we sat down and decided on our family Code of Living. Everyone had a voice and everyone agreed to the code. Honestly, that was the easy part because we basically value the same things and have similar goals for the family. This is our agreement for the past year:
- Respect Everyone
- Try New Things
- Give to Others
- Have Fun
- Be Prepared
- Use the Golden Rule
- Act with Integrity
- Choose Time Wisely
- Be Humble
- Know When The Joke is Over
- Give Compliments
The hard part came when we had to hold each other accountable. So every week or two we gathered to talk about how we did, what we did well and what we could have done better. We each identified an item to focus on for the next few weeks. We were more sporadic than the every week family meeting we had planned, but when we sat down for these conversations, it was amazing to see just how introspective our kids are and how interested they are in being better people.
I’m excited for my boys to come home in a few weeks. I want to hear about all their adventures and friends, but honestly, I’m most excited to see how they have grown. I can’t wait to sit down together in August and figure out how our family’s Code of Living will change. I’m ready to reflect on everyone’s growth this past year and set goals for next year.