Family Values: What Values Should I Instill In My Family?

Updated June 24, 2020

Medically Reviewed By: Karen Devlin, LPC

Whether we are conscious of it or not, we are constantly passing certain values down from generation to generation. From living an honest life to making generous donations to local organizations, your children take note of this behavior and act on it. It is never too late to instill values into your family, and it is never too late to change some of the values that are not beneficial to your family. If you're interested in changing the attitudes and the methods that your family has towards living life, here are some popular values that successful families share.

First, We Need To Define Family Values As Well As Your Values

According to an article on American Family Values on the website Love to Know, the term family values refers to "a set of beliefs and ideas (social and sometimes political) that provide moral guidance to a family unit." For example, let's imagine that you've been raised in a strict religious household that is against many of the liberal values of today's families.

There is nothing right or wrong with this value. It is simply a family value. However, these are the types of values that you need to evaluate when you are trying to examine what your family believes and how they act on those beliefs. If there is a value in your family that you think is destructive or dangerous, make a note of it and work to change it. If there is something in your family that works and that makes the individuals better people, keep that value strong within the family. Like any habit or belief, you can change the values of your family, even if it will take some time.

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Second, We Need To Know How To Change Our Personal Beliefs As Well As Our Family's

There is no use in listing popular family values and telling you to change them if you have no idea how to go about this. Once you've identified the family values that you want to eliminate and the ones that you to incorporate, here is a short guide that you can use to change your beliefs:

Step 1. Identify The Belief And The Part Of Yourself That Is Holding Onto It

Belief and identity are very closely intertwined. For example, let's say that honesty is a big family value. When you have this value, you don't just value honesty. You ARE an honest person. Every fiber of you is grounded in that value, and you make a conscious effort to become an example of that value.

To begin the process of changing a personal belief or value, you have to identify it and acknowledge it. Continuing from the example above, find that one of your values is honesty and acknowledge that it is an integral part of your life. Once you identify a value, you can change it.

Step 2. Find The Seed That Planted The Value

You are not born with values at birth. You are given them by family members and friends who make a huge impact on your during your lifetime. When you identify a value that you may not want to hold onto anymore, ask yourself, where did it come from?

Did it come from your mother? Your father? Your uncle? Your friend? Take a trip down memory lane and try to remember who instilled that value in you. If you try hard enough, you will be able to trace the value back to its source. You will also be able to understand why you held so tightly to the value when you realize the feelings that you had for said person. This is important.


Step 3. Challenge The Value And The Emotions Associated With It

This is going to be the hardest step but ultimately the most important in this short guide. To break free of a certain value, you will have to challenge it. No matter what your value is, think about the cons associated with it. Why is it bad for you and your family? How has it harmed you in the past? Why is holding onto it affecting you negatively? Truly look into the value and see why it may be considered "wrong." Then, challenge the person that gave it to you. This does not mean that you have to break away from them or rid them from your life. It just means that you may have to clear the misconception that said the person was perfect and that they could have been wrong in the way that they thought about life. This part will take some time to make sure that you have gone over the negatives before you move onto the final step.

Step 4. Break Free Of The Original Value And Start Living The New Value

Now, you have to say goodbye to the original value and begin incorporating the new value into your life. This means that you must live your new value with all of your strength. For example, let's imagine that your original value was a stance against gay marriage and you are now trying to accept equality as a value. Don't just get rid of the first and say that you are okay with the second. Live it! Go out and make your stance on gay marriage known. Be accepting of choice and let your family know that you are. Only through living your choice can you truly make a change.

Now, We Can Get To Some Common Family Values That Families Of Today Share

If you're looking to instill some great family values into your own family, here are some that you should not overlook:

"Fun" Values - Fun values consist of things that you and your family do to break away from the busy hustle and bustle of life. Have you heard the phrase, "all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"? It is most certainly true, for both your children and yourself. Fun values may include:

  • Promoting play time after doing homework
  • Gathering together to play board games or physical games at least one day out of the week
  • Spending time on family outings and not worrying about work or school

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School And Business Values - Your family will be able to identify when you are fulfilled and happy at your job. They will also be able to tell when you are miserable or when you are overworked. If they see that you continue to stay in a job that is not good for you or that causes you to be absent from family time frequently, they might take that as a signal that work is meant to be like that. To avoid this, here are some work and school values to set in your family:

  • Giving 100 percent on every assignment and project
  • Saying no and practicing self-care when it is needed
  • Asking for what you deserve
  • Being responsible for your workload and doing things promptly
  • Being responsible with money earned
  • Making an effort to learn something new every day
  • Making an effort to learn skills that will help you get promoted to your position
  • Valuing the work that you have done and seeking to do even better next time
  • Being valuable as both an individual as well as a team player

Moral And Relationship Values - We all tell our family that they need to be good people to be successful in this world. However, the definition of a "good person" may not be clear if they do not see the examples of a good person at home. To make sure that they know how a good person acts, here are some moral and relationship values that you should practice no matter wherever you are:

  • Being a good listener and a solid communicator
  • Sharing what you have with others around you and giving to the less fortunate whenever possible
  • Volunteering your time to a good cause
  • Being an honest person in all aspects of your life
  • Facing your fears and working through them to grow as a person
  • Seeing where your skills may be needed in any situation and providing them for adding value to life
  • Taking responsibility for things that you have done that are good and bad
  • Persevering through tough times and keeping hope alive
  • Being kind and caring towards others
  • Demonstrating patience and maintaining your composure when things don't go your way


This is by no means a comprehensive list, and there are plenty more ideas online if you are willing to do some research and work to instill them in your family.

Are you having some difficulty with removing or your family from some of your values? Are you having some difficulties trying to instill these values? If you are having trouble in any way, shape, or form, it would be very beneficial for you to visit Regain is an online counseling platform that helps people deal with any problems arising in any relationship. This link will bring you to a page that will help you find the right relationship counselor for you! Good luck!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How do you define family values?

Family values are a set of rules, beliefs, and practices family members agree to adhere to and practice as a unit. Specific family values intertwine with moral values which are the set of values created by society as acceptable or unacceptable behavior. Since we all share different beliefs, moral values within a family can be different than the moral values of society as a whole.

This means that the moral values that are acceptable within a strong family framework aren’t always accepted by the larger society (and vice versa.) The behaviors and standards set in early family life will follow us into adulthood. Family values are important as this list of values and standards for behavior inside of nuclear families. The relationship between family values and family relations go-hand-in-hand. Families will often hold a regularly scheduled family meeting to make sure all family members understand and share the same set of values.

What are the most important family values?

Some of the most important family values for a strong family to instill in their families are moral values like honesty, trust, integrity, and loyalty. Having these values is important to keeping the family unit functioning smoothly so that all goals of the family can be achieved. The value of loyalty may be the most important of all as families across many countries and cultures require at a minimum that their family members always remain loyal to the nuclear family unit.

Family values automatically apply to the nuclear family unit and are often extended to the family living outside of the nuclear family home. Traditionally the nuclear family home was encompassed by a married couple with children living in a single-family home. An important role of family values is to establish a universal set of standard behaviors.

These behaviors apply both inside of the family and to interaction with the larger society. It’s important to note that family values may not always mirror those of the larger society. For this reason, some family values may be considered by those with differing value systems as complex or unorthodox. Traditional family values and important family morals are passed down and shared between generations.

While moral values and family values give us a primary blueprint for behavior, many people find as they become adults that their meaningful family values have less meaning as we break away and create our own family system. In many cases when people enter adulthood, they will keep the family values that are important to the like spending quality family time together and make new values for families that are growing, evolving, and changing.

What are traditional family values?

Traditional family values like loyalty, honesty, respect and a good work ethic give nuclear families the foundation for important social behaviors. Family values that are instilled and passed down between generations include marriage and family values and moral values. Marriage and family values set the standard for how married partners are expected to engage with each other and the family. Some values that relate to marriage and family that are likely to be shared between generations are religion, education, work-ethic, and separation or divorce.

For example, some families strongly believe that once you are married that separation or divorce are not an option. These families often believe in “toughing out” family issues and supporting their family members at all costs. In some ways this show of solidarity and support for family members can be considered noble. In others, people who blindly adhere to rules that are considered by the larger society as damaging or dangerous to others are doing themselves and others a disservice.

When it comes to American family values, traditional values like spending regular quality time with your family, working hard to provide for your family, and taking care of your family members are important family values that are publicly supported. Spending family time is valued as an important time for families to reconnect and assess whether changing needs allows for the family to keep their values in order. Without working hard to support your family and contributing to the global family unit, the survival, health, and wellness of your family may be at risk. As a result many American families place priority on work as a primary value that is important to your family stability. When we look at families in this way, we can see why family time and similar values are an important part of well-functioning family systems.

What are the importance of family values?

Family values are examples of the first social contracts that we set with ourselves and our family members. People who have strong family values believe that their methods and strategies have been proven to work best. In many cases, families who are considered to have strong family values are often resistant to change. Unfortunately, the resistance to change often remains despite the evidence that the change is both beneficial and inevitable.

The term family values relates to an intangible social contract that family life and behaviors is based on. Family values dictate what behaviors are acceptable and expected within a family and what behaviors are frowned upon. The majority of adults will base their life experiences and relationships on the early childhood experiences they had with their original family. Strong family values include standards for raising a nuclear family, standards for nontraditional families and agreements on how family members will behave in social situations both inside and outside of the family.

The head of a family may call a family meeting to discuss the state of the family. Some families have a weekly family meeting to discuss goals and discuss their values. As families share their experiences, they may find that traditional values no longer make sense and establish different kinds of values based on the evolving needs of the family.

What are 10 moral values?

  1. Honesty - It’s important for members of a family to be honest with each other to prevent misinformation from damaging the family structure or causing dissension and arguments within the family. Dishonesty in American families is considered as a negative trait in many families.
  2. Respect - Have you ever heard someone mention the phrase “ I paid my dues” in relation to their senior status as a head-of-household or other authority figure? If you have, chances are you’re listening to a family member that is explaining the value of the family hierarchy that requires younger family members to respect their elders. While an expectation that all family members will treat each other with respect is a given in most families, not all families value the elders in their families. For example, countries in eastern cultures place a higher priority on caring for elder family members than their western counterparts.
  3. Family - One of the most important family values that appear to be consistent across many cultures is the concept of quality family time. Families use family time to reconnect, share updates and news and make important group decisions for all members of the family. For example, the birth of a new family member or an upcoming wedding are likely to be important topics of discussion during family time. In most families, especially those with strong values, being present for the successes, celebrations, and struggles of close family members is automatically expected. In some cultures, the value of “family first” becomes so strong that family members are encouraged to go against their own best interests in service to the family.
  4. Justice - If you’ve ever heard the term “an eye for an eye” then you’ve already been introduced to the concept of social justice. In many American families, the head-of-household will promote a peaceful resolution to issues that happen inside and outside of the family. The concept of fairness and justice come into play when family members get together to determine if the decided punishment fits the perceived “crime.” Keeping in mind that almost every family's values are different, without a clear set of standards and rules, determining who is at fault for an incident (or if any incident has even occurred) can become a tricky proposition.
  5. Religion - Traditionally people would automatically grow up and continue to choose the religion they were introduced to by their primary attachment figures. (In most cases, the primary attachment figures are the biological parents.) Today, more people are making independent choices surrounding the topics of marriage, family, and religion as more information is becoming available about the benefits and setbacks of religions and religious organizations worldwide. The topic of religion is often a source of content in families and society at large when people from differing religious viewpoints attempt to challenge each other’s point-of-view or religious stance. Some families feel so strongly about religion that they may turn their backs on or become estranged from family members who don’t share similar religious views.
  6. Education - One of the most debated topics in families often has to do with the value of education. Families who share strong educational values and accolades almost automatically expect their children and the rest of their family members to share this value for knowledge and to follow a similar path for getting their education. When families have differing viewpoints about the topic of education, arguments and disagreements can occur. Healthy families understand how to agree-to-disagree and allow each family member the benefit of their own view point. Families that operate in toxic family systems may not allow other families members the benefit of choosing their own educational pathway.
  7. Career and Employment - Traditionally when you ask a small child “what they wanted to be when they grow up” the response would often be a “doctor” or a “lawyer.” Other popular career choices are “policeman,” “teacher,” and athlete. In the case of families, many parents either consciously or unconsciously steer their children and family members in the direction of the career that they feel is best. Oftentimes the result is that the career choice ends up being best for “them” and not the person making the decision about their career or employment.
  8. Integrity - Many American families value the concept of integrity and instill this value in their families. People who have integrity can be counted on to do the right thing in any situation -- regardless of who is watching. A famous quote once stated is “ The true character of a man is revealed -- when no one is watching.” When someone exercises integrity, they practive the morals and values they preach while remaining steadfast and trustworthy.
  9. Contribution - Participating in your own upkeep is one of the many unwritten values that are at the center of family rules. Families with strong value systems operate under a system of reciprocity and contribution where each member of the family is expected to do their part. Contribution in families is expected when it comes to raising children, sharting responsibilities, financial responsibilities and more.
  10. Loyalty - As families weather the ups and downs of life together and are responsible for each other’s safety, well-being, and support. It stands to reason that families across all cultures share the value of loyalty. When it comes to being a loyal family member, in most cultures, this means that you will put the needs and well-being of your family before everything else. In some cultures, family loyalty comes with fewer rules and expectations. In other cultures, family loyalty is considered as the cornerstone value for having a successful family. 

What is the role of family in the society?

The role of the family in society is to help each member of the family define family values and live out their values. Family values are important as they provide family members with a blueprint for socially acceptable behaviors in families and society. Being part of a family and sharing family values helps each member of the family have a greater chance at meeting critical needs for survival including food, shelter, water, social connection, and emotional support.

Being an active participant in family life as a member of a nuclear family gives family members a sense of mutual protection and safety within the nuclear family unit. The practice of instilling family values applies to the American family, and other family systems worldwide. To learn more about the imortance of family time, family values, and family systems research periodicals like the Journal of Family Psychology (published by the American Psychiatric Association are excellent resources to use.

How do you teach children values?

When we are young, we initially adopt the set of values given to us by families and the nostalgia that comes along with it. Our primary values are learned as we watch how our primary caregivers and relatives engage with us, each other, and others outside of those we engage with in everyday family life. It’s important to understand that children will mimic the behavior of the family member they are closest to. In this case, it is critical to recognize the importance of family values and personal values that are both consciously and unconsciously passed down to our children.

Children will generally accept the values and morals of the people they live with every day and that of authority figures such as religious authority figures, teachers, police officers, and public servants, and similar figures. In order to instill strong and fair values in children, it’s important to lead by example. Children are more likely to mimic the behaviors they see rather than, correct unacceptable behavior based on expectations. In other words, practice what you preach, our children copy what we do more often than what we say. 

What are morals and values?

When it comes to understanding the importance of family values, we have to start by defining what values and morals are. Values are the ideas and beliefs that a person has about their individual lives. When it comes to individual values examples are standards of living, preferred brands, religion, education, and more. Individual values aren’t often affected by conflicting views from outside society. Most people feel that they are entitled to have at least a few things in their lives that are authentically their own and this is where we see personal values come into play.

Morals are the ideas, beliefs, and behaviors that society has altogether -- for everyone else. In other words, this is the way that everyone else seems to expect us to act when we’re in a public forum -- regardless of how we actually feel about the environment or situation. When people begin to feel pressured to participate in activities or take on views that they aren’t necessarily comfortable with, this is a form of peer pressure.

Surprisingly enough, peer pressure does often occur within families.  For example, truth-telling may be an important family value. However, society often holds more liberal values on when it is acceptable and unacceptable to tell a lie. When the conflict between your personal values and the moral standards of society collide, you may find yourself in a pickle.

When you’re having conversations about family morals and values always keep in mind that values and morals are relative to the situation and dependent on the views of the person (and the situation) to which they apply.

As a result, not all families or individuals will share the same list of values. When a clash of family values becomes an issue within a family structure, behaviors perceived as toxic can place a strain on joint family goals and family relations.

What are American family values?

American families have many types of values. The values that American families instill and perpetuate are based on several factors. A commonly shared American value for many is to have a strong ethic and quality family time. The moral values of hard work and family seem to be common among American families as they encourage strong family work ethics and quality time spent together to build a strong family bond.

Some American families hold more liberal values than others when it comes to establishing family values and enjoying everyday family life. What values can you identify within your own family? Can you see how your family value system has had an impact on your life? If you want to learn more about how family values have impacted your life, a licensed therapist on the ReGain platform can help.

How do you define family values?

The definition of family values differs depending on the cultural context of the phrase. However, the term typically refers to cultural values that reflect the family's function, familial roles, belief systems, and morals. Family values are important in many different societies. They teach us how to respect our elders and young people. You may have heard the term family values used in politics in The United States. A "traditional family" has been defined as one where two parents are raising children. Family members include adults and children. One of the guardians, in a stereotypical family, functions as the primary breadwinner, while the second parent stays home and manages household duties, including childrearing and cleaning. Though this family system is antiquated, it's still a model that many people view as normal, and a reflection of family values. Anything that deviates from this familial structure was once deemed a non-traditional family. American families have evolved and changed over the years. Society is growing and changing, and that includes how we define family values.

Non-traditional families are becoming few and far between, meaning that the definition of what it means to be a family is growing. Seeing the nuclear family as the norm is being phased out, and we're learning that there are all types of families. A nuclear family limits how we view familial roles. We see members of the unit in a myopic way. The reality is that there are different ways to view the American family. For example, there are one-parent households. An extended family could contribute to the system. Children who have been adopted are part of a family. There are blended families. Some families aren't blood-related. Some families don't include children. The nuclear family isn't the only one. The definition of family values differs depending on the dynamic of the people involved. A family member may not want to participate in the family system and deviates from the traditional family. Family values give us a sense of a strong foundation and a sense of belonging to a tribe. We feel like we're a part of something bigger than ourselves.

What are the most important family values?

The importance of family values differs between units. Moral values differ from family to family. Nuclear families aren't the norm anymore; therefore, the definition of family values work differently than they did years ago. Some families hold honesty as an essential part of their communication. The kinds of values will vary depending on what the members of the unit find crucial. However, the importance of family values is deep. One thing you can do to determine values and morals in your unit is to call a family meeting. It's an excellent place for everyone in the household to be honest about what they feel matters. They can discuss the values that are important to them. Each person will have a different perspective, but there may be some overlap. Understanding moral values in the family will help the unit function well. The family meeting allows for a candid discussion of these kinds of values. Each person has a right to say what matters to them. Their personal values are considered, and they'll feel validated. The family unit is made of individuals. These people need to feel like they're a part of a foundation. A strong family is possible to foster, but it requires defining moral values within the family unit.

What are traditional family values?

What is important to your family may not be to another unit. Families share a lot. That sharing includes emotions and physical space. The family home needs to be a safe space where a set of values are developed and observed. By defining these moral tenets, the family members will feel secure and attached. Defining the set of values can be a collaborative process. It can take place over a period of time. A strong family is one where every member feels like their opinion matters. Maybe the unit observes traditional values, or perhaps these tenets are less strict than one might envision. Moral values can also be subject to change. Values and morals matter a great deal in a unit. Perhaps a family observes a belief system, and it doesn't seem to accommodate everyone in the house. That's a sign that the moral values need to be modified to help everyone in the unit feel secure. Sometimes families and the nostalgia associated with them prevent people from evolving and changing how they think about matters. But it's crucial to have primary values and understand that these beliefs can be somewhat flexible. One of the family goals can be to include all members of the values in order to strengthen the system.

What is the importance of family values?

Family values are important because they support and strengthen the unit. Traditional or nontraditional families can have a list of values. The family structure is contingent on who makes up the unit. There are so many different types of families. The types of values that matter to one family may not be relevant to another one. American families hold different beliefs. Depending on the specific family, values work differently. An important family value could be to love one another despite the differences between the members. Having a list of values can help members of the unit respect each other. Maybe one person has liberal values, and others practice conservative ones. That doesn't mean these two people can't compromise, or understand each other. They can accept one another for who they are. Liberal values versus conservative ones don't have to destroy a meaningful family relationship.

What are 10 moral values?

Values for families are crucial. There are many different moral values that makeup family life. Here are some of the beliefs that help people feel good about themselves. They can help family relations, and people can live out their values.

Honesty - It's crucial in your family life, to be honest with one another. With family relations, you will strengthen your bonds when you tell the truth to one another. You can keep a journal of family quotes that inspire people to be honest with who they are, and with members of the unit.

Compassion - It's crucial to have empathy and compassion in your family life. People want to feel loved and understood. The relationship between family members can be improved when each person feels that the members care about their feelings.

Forgiveness - Everyone makes mistakes, and that includes errors in marriage and family dynamics. That's why it's important to forgive each other. Weekly family meetings are a great place to discuss conflicts and help family members to forgive each other.

Quality time - It's crucial in marriage and family values to include quality time. Family time allows people to appreciate one another. You may get frustrated with members of the unit. That's normal, but having quality family time reminds you of what you like about your loved ones. Sometimes it can be hard to figure out what to do with each other. Everyone may have different opinions as to how to spend family time. That's okay, and you can take turns. Family time can help people feel understood, and one of the ways to do this is to compromise. You don't have to do things you like each time. You can allow other members of the unit to choose what to do with family time. It's imperative to factor in some dedicated moments to spend with your loved ones. Having family time makes you feel like you are a part of a group of people who care about one another.

Hard work - Part of being in a family is working at it. There will be hardships in life. You can lean on your relatives for support when you have family time, those rare moments when you can be candid, and tell your loved ones what you need. They will be there for you, and you can be present for them. Family time is about working through difficult times. It's also about deciding to be present and value one another. Family time reminds you of how hard being a part of a family can be and how rewarding it is.

Loyalty - It's crucial to be loyal to your family. That's not always easy. But the more you can be there for members of the unit, the better. They will appreciate the love and care that you give them. You can be supportive.

Respect - When you're part of a family, an excellent value to uphold is respect. To receive respect, you need to give it to your family members. You may not agree with everything your loved ones say, but you can still respect them.

Interdependence - A strong family unit relies on the members to interact and support each other. You don't have to go through life alone. You have the guidance and strength of your family. There are moments when you can be independent, and there are other times when you can ask for help. That's the idea behind interdependence.

Appreciation - Each person in a family unit is unique. You can appreciate every member of the unit for the beautiful person that they are. You want to be recognized for who you are, as do your family members.

Boundaries - Boundaries are a crucial part of healthy relationships. You can ask for what you need, and your family members can request to get their needs met. Sometimes it's crucial for people to have space. You may not be able to talk about an issue. Maybe your family member needs some time to process how they feel. It's important to respect how others feel and get your needs met as well.

What is the role of family in society?

Being a part of a family makes a person feel loved and supported. You can get through life with others who care about you and want to nurture your feelings. A family can make you feel like you belong somewhere. There are people who care about your voice and want to be there to support you.

How do you teach children values?

One way to teach kids values is by modeling. If you want your children to be honest, then be truthful with them. Kids learn by seeing adults act in particular ways. You can also have them practice their values. If you want your child to be empathetic, ask them about their feelings. And have them practice caring for others. Kids can learn a lot by doing, and they're extremely perceptive.

What are morals and values?

Morals and values are beliefs that people hold about the world. They are rules that a person chooses to abide by to live their life.

What are American family values?

American family values are morals and beliefs that Americans have in common. These beliefs are shifting and changing as our society evolves. Some people disagree that they exist in America. One thing we can agree upon is that American families should love, respect and support each other.

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