I know a young lady who recently turned 18, and has been enjoying going to a few clubs on weekends with her friends. She described what it’s like, knowing how old and out of touch I am with the culture our 18 year-olds are dealing with. She actually described it as being something “like a jungle” and how young women can be preyed on. Approached by men, they often have to brush hands away from their bodies, or turn and walk away with a clear message of “I’m not interested.” Then came the part that has really got me thinking. She said she was approached and asked for a kiss. Her response? She said clearly and simply, “I don’t kiss boys in clubs.” She and the young man then had a conversation and went their separate ways.
This girl was expressing a personal value. “I don’t kiss boys in clubs”. She was saying, “I value relationships.” “I know what matters to me, and I am going to stick by that.”
A value is something we choose, and then we live by. It is something we have thought through, and once chosen it becomes a guide, no matter what environment we are in, and what pressures may surround us at the time.
How much heartache would be avoided if our young people lived by values. By things they have thought through, and decided really matter.
Learning to live by values starts early. It starts when our toddler hits his little friend in frustration, and we say, “We don’t hit. We look after people.” Or when one child uses another’s things without asking, and we say clearly and simply, “We ask before we borrow.” And when the quarrels and fights fire up, and we say firmly, “We don’t use insults or names when we’re angry. We respect people.” As we repeat these statements, and encourage children in the times they get it right, we are building values in our family. We are creating a culture where the valuable things in life are valued.
“We don’t hit people.” “We ask before we borrow.” “We don’t use names and insults when we’re angry.” These values become normal. It’s not about trying to remember all the rules. It’s about building a family culture where respect, care and truth are normal.
It takes patience and persistence to make values normal. When they are little, we can feel like we are constantly repeating ourselves. Repeating those clear simple statements calmly and firmly…. Again and again.
But persistence pays off. Our values will become normal. We will create a home and family where people feel safe, where they know they are loved, and respect is what’s expected.
And that is what they will take into adulthood. That will be how they measure the way people treat them, and the standards they bring to their relationships.
It was E.F. Schumacher who wrote, “Values help us evaluate what is valuable.”
I want my children to become young adults who know what is valuable. Who know
what matters to them, and who have chosen values to live by. So when they get approached in a club, the decision has already been made. The value has been chosen and now the choice is easy.