This week we’ve explored stories, healing, wounds of war, and writing. Today we’d like to explore the values we have learned from our family and how those have shaped who we are and how we raise our children and grandchildren.
A value is defined as a noun in two ways.
- The regard that something is held to deserve; the importance, worth, or usefulness of something.
- A person’s principles or standards of behavior; one’s judgment of what is important in life.
Whether we are raising children or teaching them in any capacity, what values are we passing along to them? Are we even discussing values anymore in this world that seems to have gone crazy? How can we use family stories or stories of war to educate and pass along values we feel are important, to our children or students? Are we keeping in mind that our judgment of how important a value is may not be as important to others? Are we free to pass along our experiences and values without forcing others to take them as their truth?
Tell a Story
Tell a story of war. Name some values within the story if possible. Most children are familiar with D-Day. Tell a story about D-Day and discuss the value COURAGE. How do they interpret this value in that story and how can they apply it to their lives? Where have they been courageous?
Tell a family story. Perhaps it is about how a family rebuilt their lives after losing everything in the Depression. Possible values are resilience, strength, and dedication. How do they interpret these values in that story and how can they apply it to their lives? Are there times when they have seen themselves as strong? Dedicated to something (learning a new sport or working hard at school, etc.)? There are so many ways stories can take us to pass along values.
Now switch it around. Tell a story and ask the children to identify values. Or have the children tell you a story a you identify the values.
Help Children Think & Use their Imagination
Rather than telling them what they should take away from the story, ask them to look at a list of values (or discuss specific values), that arose in the story. How do the children interpret the story and values? What do they feel is the most important part of the story? How can they apply it to their lives?
Consider having the children draw or paint a story. How can they apply the values they heard in your story in what they create?
A Story and Value Example
Joseph and Majdalena immigrated to the U.S. in October 1880, unmarried with a baby on the way. Like many other immigrants from Eastern Europe during that time period, Joseph and Majdalena chose to leave to give their family a better life. One filled with peace and opportunity rather than unending war and poverty. They settled in Chicago after their arrival and their first son Joseph was born in March 1881. Joseph and Majdalena had 11 children with 10 surviving into adulthood. They created a life in Chicago in which they bought a house, raised children, saw them all complete school through grade school. Sent four sons to the military in WWI, one, Michael fighting and dying overseas. They left a legacy of strength, resilience, courage, opportunity to grow and change, and many other things to their descendants.
Joseph and Majdalena were my great great grandparents. Having researched their large family and descendants for many years and exploring Michael’s military service, I learned a lot about not only the family but myself. Isn’t it amazing the values and the pain that are transferred through our DNA through the generations? How we can take on both the positive and negative aspects of our families? How we can use the values they transferred to create better lives for ourselves and our children?
Do my boys know these stories? Yes. Have they learned from them? Yes. Will they take the best of what all of us have created and create their own amazing futures? I hope so.
Want to Know More?
Are you interested in learning more about values? Here are a few lists we’ve found helpful and inspiring.
Are you writing stories about your family that dig deeper and include values? We’d love to hear about it. Please share with our readers in the comments.
© 2017 World War II Research and Writing Center