What You'll Learn
- How Family Values Bring Balance to Life
- The Journey to Creating Family Values
- The Benefits of Establishing Family Values
- How Values Allow Everyone to Have a Role in the Home
- The Importance of Staying Grounded in Your Family Values
- How to Begin Creating Family Values
As a parent, it can be tempting to try to do everything—especially in the age of social media. But not only is that unrealistic—it also sets you up for burnout and frustration. So how do you decide what to say yes to? How do you decide what matters most? By tuning into your family values.
Today, I’m joined by Mell and Joe Hashey, founders of Strong Family Co, to find out what family values are and how to establish them for your family.
Hockey and Our Family Values
We recently tried to become a hockey family. In Canada, hockey is a big deal. And it seemed like a great way to get our sons active and involved in the community.
So we signed them up, imagining a fun time for everyone. We quickly realized, however, that hockey was a major commitment.
Every weekend was dedicated to games, shuttling the boys back and forth to wherever they needed to be. And the hockey culture came with an intensity that we didn’t expect.
There’s nothing wrong with being a sports family, of course! But we found ourselves resenting hockey when it started to dictate how we would spend our weekends, a red flag that it was interfering with our family values.
We want flexibility and autonomy over our time and how we spend our weekends. We want our kids to be free to explore different activities and find what works for them. And we want to do things together rather than splitting up for practices and games.
But we’ve never sat down and intentionally carved out “family values,” guiding principles that inform how you and your family make decisions and live your lives. So when I came across Mell and Joe’s work, I was immediately drawn to it.
After starting out with traditional careers, Mell and Joe realized that they weren’t living in a way that felt right in their hearts. But once they committed to establishing clear family values and living in a way that aligned with them, they were able to create a life, a routine, and relationships that felt right to the entire family, moving to a cabin in Colorado.
I couldn’t wait to chat with them more about establishing family values and routines.
How Family Values Bring Balance to Life
When Joe and Mell were working to establish family values, they thought about what businesses do to create cohesive success—a key component of Joe’s work as a business consultant.
Businesses create core values, they have everyone make contributions, establish routines and procedures, and hold regular business meetings to ensure that everyone is on the same page.
From this idea, Joe and Mell formed family values, established morning routines that involved everyone in the family, and created family meetings and dinners that allowed and encouraged everyone to communicate and share what mattered to them.
Joe believed that it was important to pull on his work experience and bring that business knowledge into play—he didn’t want to view work and life as a spectrum pulling at each other, but take what he had learned from work and put it into play for family life.
Work shouldn’t detract from life—it should enhance life.
Mell and Joe believe that work shouldn’t detract from life—it should enhance life—and that if it does detract, it’s important to make changes where possible.
The Journey to Creating Family Values
It was very important to Joe and Mell that their values didn’t just hang on a wall—that they were truly embodied in their lives, their relationships, and their decisions.
Values shouldn't just hang on a wall—they should embody our lives, relationships, and decisions.
So they set out on a journey to discover what really mattered to their family, establishing 5-7 core family values.
For two weeks, they separately wrote down everything that was valuable to them—from small things to big things. They ended up with a long list–reading, adventure, playfulness, gratitude—anything that occurred to them individually in those couple of weeks.
Then, they came together for a meeting and went through their lists with a practice called, “Kill, Keep, or Combine.” Some things on the list they determined weren’t that important, so they “killed” them from the list. Some they kept, and some they realized were similar so they combined them.
They continued to have these deep conversations until they ended up with a list of 5-7. After they established the family values, they had a meeting with the kids to communicate what they were and what they meant. Joe and Mell posted the values but opened up continual conversations with the children about the values, putting them into play in real-life scenarios.
For example, one of their family values is accountability. So when the kids have arguments, they bring in the idea of values, asking them, “How can you be accountable in this situation?”
Another way to approach establishing values is to search for values sorts online and work through a list together—this can be particularly helpful if you have difficulty coming up with the words to define what matters to you.
The Benefits of Establishing Family Values
Defining their family values has allowed Joe and Mell to approach situations completely differently. Their values are the foundation for how they run their family, how they communicate, and their decision making.
They encourage their kids to carry out these values in their lives, in how they make friends, in what activities they do, and in how to choose what matters to them. They know that when their kids get older, they will discover their own values that might not align with the family values they have created—but the process of thinking about values is one they will likely carry on.
Mell pointed out that when we have kids, we don’t really get educated on how to be a parent. The only guide we are given is how we are raised, which doesn’t always align with our values.
We don’t really get educated on how to be a parent. The only guide is how we are raised.
So bringing in a strategic, intentional way to decide what to do helps us create the family we want, rather than just letting it happen and hoping it turns out okay.
It has also helped them question their own beliefs and their own priorities. When they discussed their values, they would often ask themselves, “Why do I think this? Why is this important to me? Where did this come from?”
The process allowed them to take a deeper look at their own individual upbringings and what they wanted to bring into their family. Mell pointed out that sometimes it’s important to say no to something that you were raised with in order to say yes to something you’re really passionate about.
Ultimately, gaining clarity has allowed Joe and Mell to evaluate their own effectiveness as parents and to determine what goals they are working toward together.
How Values Allow Everyone to Have a Role in the Home
Another element that Joe and Mell have committed to is “contributions.” Each morning, they follow a routine where everyone in the family contributes to the household. They don’t call it a “chore” because they want their children to understand that everyone has a role and responsibility in the home.
This is something that is important to me in my own home as well. One of my values is that everyone assumes a sense of responsibility and ownership for the home, challenging gender norms—we don’t allow this labor to fall to just me as the mom. Everyone has an active role in the home, it is a family space and we all contribute.
Using values as a roadmap to divide labor can be very helpful. When we know what’s important, and we establish routines and responsibilities, everybody knows what to do. This keeps the mental load from falling on just one person’s shoulders.
Joe and Mell also pointed out that their family falls into a more traditional division of labor in the home, and what works for one person or family doesn’t necessarily work for everyone.
It’s important that we become intentional about how we’re approaching life as a family.
It’s important that we become intentional about how we’re approaching life as a family, to ensure that everyone feels heard, seen, and valued.
The Importance of Staying Grounded in Your Family Values
I have seen the importance of values in my own family so many times. After our experience with hockey, I know that I can stand stronger in my values when I start to see other families doing all the things.
Maybe their family values healthy competition or athleticism, whereas we value flexibility and slowness. Neither of us is wrong—we just value different things.
And I also know that our priorities can shift and change in different seasons of life, developmental stages, or different phases of our business. We value togetherness, but there are times when we have big business deadlines or projects on the horizon. Some dinners might become tablet time while we finish up something at the last minute.
But when we know what our values are and become rooted in them, it’s okay when priorities temporarily shift. We’ll come back to our core family values as our guiding light, even after our professional values might have to take the spotlight for a day or two.
When we know what our values are, it’s okay when priorities temporarily shift.
Joe and Mell pointed out that staying strong in your values can help with self-reflection. If you find yourself taking on things that don’t feel right, step back and ask yourself, “is this serving my family?” Your values can help you stay focused and guided, even when comparison or the “shoulds” of motherhood creep in.
How to Begin Creating Family Values
It might feel like establishing family values is a lot of labor. But that labor brings relief in the long run. When you are able to let go of tasks, of activities, of things that don’t matter, in favor of what helps your family stay strong and grow, you can remove labor from your plate.
Mell pointed out that you don’t have to start with everything. If the idea of creating family values feels right to you, start by having a conversation with your partner about what is important to your family.
Even just discussing the idea of bringing values into the home can be helpful—and it’s okay to start small.
Just discussing the idea of values in the home can be helpful—and it’s okay to start small.
Mell and Joe follow a business idea of a “90 day world.” They only try one big new thing every 90 days to avoid overwhelm and burnout. This also gives them time to see if what they’re bringing into play is effective.
Perhaps carving out family dinners or a morning routine is a simpler place to start—or perhaps you want to just bring in one value into play for 90 days then add another.
Joe said that creating systems in a family is like trying to cross a raging river—you can’t just jump in or you’ll be whisked away. But you can throw one rock in and step on that one, then throw another rock in, and another. Take it step by step and eventually you’ll be able to reach where you want to be!
Need help establishing your family values and making decisions for your family? Our virtual therapists offer parenting support! Book a FREE 15 minute virtual consult today!