I am a mother, a wife, a student, an educator, a therapist, and at most simplistic, an individual trying to balance my family’s needs against the needs of the many. My professional path has led me into a variety of cultures and realities, equipping me with the empathy and skills necessary to really see, feel, and understand these realities. I am an expert empath; I can wear another’s shoe and see other’s perspectives with ease. When I read a controversial article, I see both sides, and usually several others in the inevitable varying shades of gray.
I recognize and respect others’ experiences, values, and belief systems and I work to teach my kids to do the same…yet, there is a growing unease in my mind, and hardness in my heart. There is a burgeoning fear attached to teaching my kids tolerance because the same way I can see other’s values and empathize with their experiences, I can also see the growing lack of respect for the values my family chooses to espouse and an unwillingness of the many to acknowledge and validate our values, our beliefs, our experiences.
So here I sit, attempting to write an article about trying to raise my children to uphold their own values. Not to put others down for their own chosen values, but also not allow political correctness and the not-so-subtle attack of western values to keep them from living the values they were raised in.
And that is still an important need I have; yet, as I thought about what I would write, I realized that I am not sure my kids actually know what values I’m teaching. Hell, I don’t even know whether I am actually living my values. Honestly, this spiraled all the way to questioning ‘what are my values?’ ‘What are values?’
And this line of questioning actually makes perfect sense…much like white, heterosexual identities are often not as completely and purposely formed (see Rowe et al., 1994) as minority identities, neither are our values. As a follower of Western values, I have been indoctrinated by generations of “this is how we do it, it’s how it has always been done” and until recently I haven’t had to be aware of these values, name them, or defend them as they were “the way” most people did it. Yet, that’s not our reality anymore. In the face of a society that no longer espouses the same general values, I must first be aware of the values I hold, name them, and purposely live them. Only then can I defend them and teach my children to do the same.
I call on each of you to do the same, whatever value system you may follow.
And to do that, we must ask what are values? We throw the word around ALL the time. We judge others and ourselves by our values, make big life-altering decisions, fight wars, choose life mates, and die by our values. But, what are they? Where to they come from? How are they transferred from generation to generation? I know the big, easy answers to these questions, but not sure how it works in my life, with my family.
Therefore, I have challenged myself and my husband, as well as several family friends to purposefully live our values every day for a year. I challenge each of you, Whiskey Patriots, to do the same. Start by asking yourselves: What are the values I live by? How do I define “values”? How do I live my values every day? How can I do better?
Only through purposeful consideration of our values can we maintain them and defend them when standing against those who desire our respect and understanding of their values but are unwilling to provide the same to us.
Ashley is a mother, wife, educator, therapist, and… millennial. She wants her kids to live in a world of mutual respect and resiliency and recognizes that in order to build such a world, critical thinking and difficult dialogues are a necessity. Join her as she thinks critically about values, parenting, and whatever else may arise at www.liveyourvalueseveryday.com