VALUES IN THE HOME
In a recent Focus on the Family radio interview with Mr. Bobb Biehl, President of Masterplanning Associates, a creative suggestion was offered to parents that I now stongly endorse. It related to the process by which values can be transmitted from one generation to the next. All mothers and fathers know it is their responsibility to teach their beliefs and concepts to their children, but this task is usually approached in a haphazard and casual manner. Mr. Biehl designed a procedure by which parents can instill their most highly valued principles and then reinforce them by the technique of repetition.
The first step in this system is to list the values which parents consider most critical. They should be designed and written for a particular child at his current age and level of understanding. Children are then offered money for memorizing the concepts in sets of five, paying them what they could earn for physical labor. When the entire list has been learned, approximately seventy five percent of the original payment could be earned for memorizing it again. The reward would drop to fifty percent the third time through, and twenty-five the fourth. By this repetitive process, the individual items begin to "live" in the mind of the child, being recalled when a violation of the principles is observed in everyday life.
While each parent should create his own list of values and concepts, I am providing herewith the set we are using in our home. Please feel free to modify it, adapt it to a younger or older age child, or eliminate the statements with which you disagree. (If you would be willing to share your list with me, I would enjoy reading and perhaps adopting some of the items you have created.)
Appreciation is expressed to Mr. Biehl for his suggestion of this creative approach to parental instruction. He would agree that we are most likely to "shoot straight" when we have clear, well defined targets at which we aim. His system identifies the targets ... the values . . . which we hope to hit on behalf of our children.
Ill look forward to hearing from you. Sincerely,
James C. Dobson
Director, Focus on the Family
1. Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and His
righteousness, and all these things shall be added
unto you. (Matthew 6:33) This is the fundamental
principle of life on which all others rest.
2. Overcommitment and time pressure are the
greatest destroyers of marriages and families. It
takes time to develop any friendship . . . whether
with a loved one or with God, Himself.
3. The overwhelming feeling of being "in love" is
not a very reliable emotion during the early years
(or at any age!) This intense affection can evaporate
in a matter of days, leaving the person confused
(and perhaps unhappily married). The only way to
know you are in love with another person is to give
yourselves plenty of time to get acquainted. Once
the decision is made and marriage occurs, then your
commitment to one another will be much more
important than the feelings, which come and go.
4. The universe and everything in it will someday
pass away and be made new by the Creator.
Therefore, the events of today which seem so
imporant are not really very significant, except for
those matters that will survive the end of the
universe (such as securing your own salvation and
doing the work of the Lord.)
5. God is like a Father to His children. He loves
them more than they can understand, but He also
expects them to be obedient to His will. And He has
said, "The wages of sin is death... " (Romans 6:23)
It is still true.
6. This is the way to be successful in life: Treat
every person as you want to be treated; look for
ways to meet the physical, emotional, and spiritual
needs of those around you. Suppress your desire to
be selfish and to seek unfair advantage over others.
Try to turn every encounter with another person
into a new or stronger friendship. Then when this
confidence with people is combined with hard
work, your future success is assured.
7. Human worth does not depend on beauty or
intelligence or accomplishments. We are all more
valuable than the possessions of the entire world,
simply because God gave us that value. This fact
remains true, even if every other person on earth
treats us like losers.
8. Strong desire is like a river. As long as it flows
within the banks of God's will ... be the current
strong or weak... all is well. But when it floods over
those boundaries and seeks its own channels, then
disaster lurks in the rampage below. (James
9. The killing of unborn children through medical
abortions is one of the most evil occurrences of our
time, with 1.5 million babies sacrificed in America
each year and 55 million worldwide.
10. Comparison is the root of all feelings of
inferiority. The moment you begin examining other
people's strengths against your most obvious
weaknesses, your self esteem starts to crumble!
11. Never risk that which you can't afford to lose.
12. There will come a day, much quicker than we as
your parents would wish, when you will no longer
be comfortable living at home. You will want to
move out and establish a home of your own. After
that time, we will be more like your friends than
your parents. Although we have enjoyed every
phase of your life to this moment, we also look
forward to the time when you will be an adult and
assume responsibilty for your own life.
13. If you're going through difficult times today,
hold steady. It will change soon. If you are
experiencing smooth sailing and easy times now,
brace yourself. It will change soon. The only thing
you can be certain of is change.
14. God created two sexes, male and female. They
are equal in worth, although each is unique and
different. It is not only impossible to blend
maleness and femaleness into a single sex, (unisex),
but it is dangerous to even attempt it.
15. The love of money is the root of all evil. (I
Timothy 6:10) That's why Jesus issues more
warnings about materialism and wealth than any
other sin. It takes a steady hand to hold a full cup.
16. Astrologers, psychics and those who practice
witchcraft are never to be consulted by Christians.
(Isaiah 47:13-14). In the first place, they are usually
phonies who only pretend to have extra sensory powers. But in some cases, they are working in cooperation with Satan. Rather than tamper with this evil world, the one true God wants us to bring our needs and problems and decisions to Him. He has promised to lead us into all truth. (John 8:32).
17. One of the secrets of successful living is found in
the word balance, referring to the avoidance of
harmful extremes. We need food, but we should not
overeat. We should work, but not make work our
only activity. We should play, but not let play rule
us. Throughout life, it will be important to find the
safety of the middle ground, rather than the
imbalance of the extremes.
18. Your life is before you. Be careful of the choices
you make now which you could regret later. This
regret is the subject of an old poem whose author
has been forgotten. I hope you'll never have reason
to apply it to yourself.
Across the fields of yesterday,
He sometimes comes to me
A little lad just back from play—
the boy I used to be
He looks at me so wistfully
When once He's crept within
It is as if he hoped to see
the man I might have been.
19. Those who are the happiest are not necessarily
those for whom life has been easiest. Emotional
stability is an attitude. It is refusing to yield to
depression and fear, even when black clouds float
overhead. It is improving that which can be
improved and accepting that which is inevitable.
20. Communism and Socialism are economic
systems whereby the government assumes
responsibility to see that each person's needs are
met and that no one individual earns more than the
State feels is fair. "Capitalism," such as we have in
America, is based on free enterprise, whereby a
person can achieve a better income for himself and
his family by working and sweating and saving and
investing. To compare these systems, think of
yourself about to take a history test. Suppose you
studied very hard and earned an "A" grade, but the
teacher gave you a "C" so he could share some of
your correct answers with a failing student who didn't study at all. Obviously, this would destroy your motivation to study in the future. This need for personal incentives explains why capitalism produces much more energetic people than communism and socialism, and why America is the richest nation on earth.
21. Take in a great breath of air and then blow it
out. Contained in that single breath were at least
three nitrogen atoms that were breathed by every
human being who ever lived, including Jesus
Christ, William Shakespeare, Winston Churchill,
and every president of the United States. This
illustrates that fact that everything we do affects
other people, positively or negatively. That's why it
is foolish to say, "do your own thing if it doesn't
hurt anybody else."
22. Faith in God is like believing a man can walk
over Niagara Falls on a tight rope while pushing a
wheelbarrow. Trust in God is like getting in the
wheelbarrow! To believe God can do something
miraculous is one thing; to risk His willingness to
do it in your life is another.
23. With God, even when nothing is happening...
something is happening.
24. The first five minutes are vitally important,
(1) A new friendship
(2) A pastor's sermon
(3) A family during the early morning hours
(4) A dad who has just come home from work
(5) A television program
(6) A salesman's presentation
(7) A visit to the doctor
Those first few moments of any human activity set the stage for everything that follows. If we accomplish our purpose quickly, we will probably be successful over the long haul. Therefore, spend more time preparing the first 5 minutes than any comparable period of time.
25. Whenever two human beings spend time
together, sooner or later they will probably irritate
one another. This is true of best friends, married
couples, parents and children, or teachers and
students. The question is: how do they respond
when friction occurs? There are four basic ways they can react:
(1) They can internalize the anger and send it
downward into a memory bank that never for
gets. This causes emotional explosive and creates
great pressure within, that can even result in di
sease and other problems.
(2) They can pout and be rude without discuss
ing the issues. This further irritates the other
person and leaves him to draw his own conclu
sions about the problem, which may be wrong.
(3) They can blow up and try to hurt the other
person. This causes the death of friendships,
marriages, homes, and businesses.
(4) Or, they can talk to one another about their
feelings, being very careful not to attack the
dignity and worth of the other person. This ap
proach leads to permanent and healthy human
27. Don't marry someone with intolerable
characteristics in the hopes of changing him or her.
If you can't live with someone who drinks, or
someone who isn't a Christian, or someone who
isn't clean, then don't marry that kind of person.
The chances for miraculous improvements are slim.
What you see is what you get!
28. Except the Lord build a house, they labor in
vain which build it. (Psalms 127:1)
29. Feelings are neither right nor wrong. It's what
you do with them that causes the problems.
30. Most loneliness results from insulation rather
than isolation. In other words, we are lonely
because we insulate ourselves, not because others
31. Some men watch so many sporting events on
television that they wouldn't even know of their
wives decision to divorce them unless it was
announced on Wide World of Sports! Remember,
balance and moderation are needed in television
32. The human body seems indestructible when we
are young. However, it is incredibly fragile and
must be cared for if it is to serve us for a lifetime.
Too often, the abuse it takes during early years
(from drugs, improper nutrition, sporting injuries, etc.), become painful handicaps during later years. One eighty year old man said it best, "If I'd known I was gonna live so long I'd have taken better care of myself."
33. Before you criticize your parents for their
failures and mistakes, ask yourself: "Will I really do
that much better with my own children?" The job is
tougher than it looks, and mistakes are inevitable!
34. Remember this about bragging and self-
centeredness: Conceit is a weird disease: it makes
everybody sick except the guy who has it. Or like
the mother whale told her baby, "When you get to
the surface and start to blow, that's when you get
35. Satan will attempt to offer you whatever you
hunger for, whether it be money, power, sex, or
prestige. But Jesus said, "Blessed are those who
hunger and thirst after righteousness." (Matthew
36. Sexual contact between a boy and a girl is a
progressive thing. In other words, the amount of
touching and caressing and kissing that occurs in
the early days tends to increase as they become
more familiar and at ease with one another.
Likewise, the amount of contact necessary to excite
one another increases day by day, leading in many
cases to an ultimate act of sin and its inevitable
consequences. This progression must be
consciously resisted by Christian young people who
want to serve God and live by His standards. They
can resist this trend by placing deliberate controls
on the physical aspect of their relationship, right
from the first date.
37. God is entitled to a portion of our income. Not
because He needs it, but because we need to give it.
38. For what shall it profit a man if he shall gain the
whole world and lose his own soul? (Jesus Christ,
39. It is better to be single and unhappy than
40. In order to find a satisfactory life's work, it is
necessary to answer five vitally important
What do I like to do? What do I have an opportunity to do? What do I have the ability to do? What can I earn a living doing? What can I do that will bring respect from my society?
Unfortunately, all five of these questions must lead to the same answer if job satisfaction is to be found. Any one that is missing will create a certain degree of frustration. This explains why so many people have trouble getting started in adult life. It also makes clear why divine assistance is needed in choosing a profession or occupation.
41. "A wet bird never flies at night." (My grandfather said that to me when I was a child, and warned me not to forget it. I remember his words but never did figure out what he meant!)
To parents: We are providing some blank lines on which you may want to write a few of your own concepts and values. God bless you as you teach them to your children.