Passing Down Non-Mainstream Values

One of the commenters on my post about allowances asked this question:

I try to install certain values in them (don´t we all) and I try hard to model what I believe – walk my talk as they say. The problem is, that these issues that I feel strongly about, are all very much in opposition to the world’s usual ways.

This is a very interesting question! And one that I think creates somewhat of a oxymoron – instilling our own values in our children that we figured out on our own, possibly even in rebellion against the things we were “taught” as kids.

So, here’s my ideas about passing down our own values by trusting our kids will come up with their own conclusions about what’s “right” and worthy:

The last thing in the world that I would want is for my children to blindly follow my beliefs, never challenge them and just do what I say, without complaint. That would be the “easiest” way to instill my values onto my kids. But wouldn’t that be just the opposite of the values I want to teach them?
We want to teach our kids to be strong, have their own minds and believe what they do because they know it’s the right thing, in their hearts, to believe. If we ask them to believe what we do without seriously considering the alternatives, when they are out of our grasp, whatever they are exposed to then will take over and they will blindly follow that. In order to have strong convictions about something (without being brainwashed) we have to come to those conclusions through debate, struggling to understand the world and tossing around all the alternatives in our brain, and in practice, first. Allowing our children to want things we don’t like is giving them the freedom to figure out what is right for them and for their world – a world that we will, one day, no longer see.

So, ultimately, to instill the non-mainstream values that I want my chidlren to carry on, I need to give them lots of opportunity and freedom to believe other things, and have their own minds. It seems somewhat counter-intuitive, but I believe it’s the only way it will work. My hope is that they will have gone through all their many struggles, trying on different ideas and pursuing things that I don’t agree with *before* they leave the nest, so when they get into the world, they will be confident in their choices (well, as much as they can in 18 short years), because they had a chance already to play around with lots of different ideas and perspectives. In other words, they won’t be suddenly thrust into a world of new ideas – all those ideas will be old hat for them, and therefore not that tempting.

I also hope that my kids never stop changing. That no matter how old they get, they will be willing to listen to new ideas, willing to change as the world and culture changes, and be adaptable. In order to teach them that, I have to model that behavior, and, let them be that way from the beginning. Which, I believe, is the natural state of things. People are born adaptable. We are trained out of being adaptable by being told, over and over, there is a “right” way to do things. I don’t want to train my kids like that. I want to them to discover their “right” way. If it’s truly the “right” way, then it will be obvious. I won’t have to teach them anything. If it’s not truly the “right” way, I’ll have to force it on them.

So, with homeschooling, or rather, living life without school, my goal is to show them the world – or at least as much of it as I can. And, by showing them the world, I am showing it to myself as well, and going through my own struggles to understand it. I think it’s good for them to see that process, and we can go through it together. And that’s how I’m passing down my non-mainstream values, by trying not to pressure them to think like me.

4 Responses to “Passing Down Non-Mainstream Values”

  1. Rebecca Says:

    You sound a lot like me. One of the things I make a big point of doing is explaining what other people I disagree with think in a respectful way. I’ll tell them why I disagree, but I want them to know that my opinion isn’t the be all and end all, that I actually have taken other POV’s into consideration, that I can have respect for those I disagree with, etc. I always let them know when i do this that while they may agree with what i am saying now, that one day things may look different to them and they will need to decide for themselves what to believe. Of course, I don’t want them to be lured by every fancy (but foolish) idea they come across so I also want to make sure that they are prepared to deal with ideas which run contrary to what we believe.
    Love your blog – I just found it from the Carnival. Your apporach sounds a lot like mine.

  2. Tammy Says:

    Technical problems are causing some comments to go to the wrong posts. I’ve moved this comment here:

    Posted by Mette:

    Hi there, that commenter is me 🙂 and I just read your thoughts about this, and thought I´d let you know what it made me reflect upon (again): I agree with you totally, in what you say about having to “come to conclusions through debate (..) tossing around alternatives” etc. I hope I didn´t give the impression that I want my kids to just blindly follow what I do or say just because I do or say it. I´m a perfect product (or was in any case :-)) myself of that mentality of “you´ll do as your told as long as your under MY roof.” My own mother kept repeating to me “when you´re 18 you can do what you want”…so that´s what I did… I always thought it was a stupid way to argue for ones case…SO, I absolutely know what I DON´T want to repeat :-).
    But your post got me thinking real hard on a couple of things. You write “Allowing our children to want things we don’t like is giving them the freedom to figure out what is right for them and for their world…” As you might have understood from my original comment, I was already meditating on this, thinking about how much of my own values I can reasonably transfer to my kids and impose on them, by different means (one being to deny them things because of my own moral issues with them for instance). So reading your words, put this way, and also what you continue to say about needing “to give them lots of opportunity and freedom to believe other things, and have their own minds”, rings very true and really hits home with me. It doesn´t seem counter-intutive to me at all infact, since I know very well that this is how things work, but being a product af a totally different mindset, I need lots of reminders to keep thinking this way and above all, to act accordingly :-). Your post then, was one of these reminders, thanks 🙂

  3. Kim Says:

    I liked this post. Sometimes also, and I’m sure this happens to you too, I forget how uncommon my beliefs are. To me they seem like common sense, what is good, right and interesting about the world. But of course, everyone has a different opinion about that, and I am reminded when I see a look of horror or surprise on people’s faces when they discover things that are part of our lifestyle. They sleep until 9am? They don’t have homework? You don’t test them? And of course many non-educational related things. I do try very hard to listen to and respect other’s beliefs and to reflect that to others. It is weird, but that is not a value everyone holds to. Some people think it a sign of weakness to try hard to understand other’s POV. So go figure!

  4. Cindy Says:

    Oooh, I love that ah-ha statement of yours: If it is really “right”, then it will be obvious . . . you won’t have to force it on them or convince them or teach them. One just needs to expose them. On the other hand, as I write this, certainly there is always place for our wisdom and counsel. For instance, things like rationalization or counterfeits or conditioning are all ways to be “blinded from truth”. As someone mentioned, when any thing I believe in or have an opinion on is shared with my children (or anyone for that matter), how I formed that opinion or discovered that truth is attached to it. I definitely believe the process of how I came to my thinking is as important or more so than simply stating the product of my thoughts.

    Thanks for your post. It goes really well with a post I’m putting together now. At a particular place in the post, I might have to reference this post 🙂


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