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To talk about family values we must first talk about what a family is? The family is a primary social unit consisting of parents and children in a community. These people love and care for each other; they want what is best for everyone in that union. Families have a way in which they live their lives, which is influenced by the family values. These values give structure and boundaries to function and thrive. They are passed on from generation to generation. Family values are responsible for uniting families, while bringing freedom to its members to pursue happiness, to give and receive love and to feel safe in how they live.

Family values may differ from family to family and some might change depending on the family as they grow and develop. Children, when they are young, automatically accept their parents’ values. As they grow they might challenge these values. Their values might change because they meet people who might influence them, such as friends, teachers and other important people in their lives. Parents or elders in a family have to work hard in teaching children about family values because it’s not only by hearing that they learn these values, parents have to live what they say . If children see that what their parents say is not the same as what they do, they won’t believe that the family values are important.

People outside the family can deduce what values people from a certain family subscribe to by observing how people from that family conduct themselves in the society, through their opinions when expressing their views about things happening in the society, by watching how they treat people outside their family ,and on how they conduct themselves in their work. Family values give a sense of pride to the individual.

In order to have good healthy family values all members of that family need to understand these values and own them. Family meetings can give opportunity to members to share their ideas. Sharing meals together as a family can provide a platform to practise some of the values. Quality time as a family is important. Families might have many values but there are those that are the core values of a particular family. Values are neutral; it’s how they are used that makes them positive or negative. If education is a family value and the members of that family become educated and use their education to do fraud, that value will have a negative connotation.

Family values may be categorised into 3 tasks, many activities may fall under these tasks (LOVE, WORK and PLAY).

Commitment Career Exercise
Communication Education Recreation
Trust Recognition Friends
Respect Creativity Me time
Loyalty Wealth Pleasure
Integrity Achievement Traditions

Family values can break or make a family. In order for those values to work for that family everyone must take responsibility and accept their duty to maintain the family standard. Families need to see that they strive for balance between Love, Work and Play, because if the focus is on work there might be damage on the other levels. People cannot live on love or play all the time they have to work too in order to provide balance.

Fezeka Tsotsobe
Families SA (FAMSA) Family Counsellor and Parenting Facilitator.