Parenting Values Edition

As I was putting together this thread, I realized it encompassed all the values that I hold dear and hope to impart to my children. Without further ado, here they are:

Faith: In case you missed it, you must check out our ginabad’s blogpost about abortion, birth control and Rush Limbaugh. She echoed all that I thought as a Catholic mom and made me feel even more compassion for women in the difficult situation of an unexpected or unwanted pregnancy.

Oftentimes I have found my religion and politics colliding but as I always tell myself faith is a journey with bumps on the road and one that I want my children to experience. Speaking of, Ari’s first communion is this May. I was asked by friends at my church whether I wanted him to do reconciliation first. (Apparently, this has changed since I was a kid and it isn’t a requirement for first communion.) I am going to talk to Ari about it as I want him to have a foundation in the religion, but I also don’t want to push him if he is unprepared and turn him off to all religion. Catholic moms, can you share pros and cons to doing reconciliation before communion?

Bilingualism: This was important to me even before the kids were born. When I was a 21-year-old foreign exchange student in Spain, I bought kids’ books in Spanish from a street vendor. I translated all of my children’s English-language books into Spanish with my scrawl. My husband and I only speak Spanish to the children and send them to a Spanish immersion school to learn to read and write it — just as an English-speaking family would send their children to school.

Both my husband and I grew up in Spanish-speaking households where we had a least one parent who restricted English in the home. I, especially, have found Spanish to be very valuable for my job and see it opening doors for my children. I also see it as a way for them to connect with Spanish-speaking family members and feel pride of their Latino heritage.

I will be sharing this and more at a live chat on The Motherhood blog this Wednesday, March 14 from 1 to 1:30 p.m. ET. Please note in your calendar and join me!

Openness: It always saddens me when I read stories like these. Utah is about to pass the most restrictive law against sex education in the country. Public schools would not be able to provide any information on contraceptives in a health class or mention homosexuality at all.

What are these parents so afraid of? I can’t believe in this day and age in the United States of America, simply stating that condoms prevent sexually transmitted diseases — as I learned in a biology class in high school — is a source of controversy. I feel for these kids who will receive this information but from less trustworthy sources.

Clean Air: Cleaning our environment and reducing our carbon footprint has always been in the back of my mind even before I had children. I still prefer to walk over driving — even when the kids whine about it. My husband and son are vegetarians and I support that. I cook with organic ingredients and advocate for our environment whenever I can.

Ever since I took the staff position at, I haven’t been writing anymore clean air columns. (No time.) But this is still an area of passion for me as the health of all life depends on clean air and water. In case you missed it, anti-clean air amendments have been added to a transportation bill, which would mean more emissions of mercury and other toxic metals in our environment. Please click on this petition by Moms Clean Air Force to send a message to Congress. Thanks!

What are the values you hope to impart to your children? Happy TGIF all!


40 thoughts on “Parenting Values Edition

  1. No faith or bilingualism here,

    although I love theology and wish I could speak more than one language. I wish I was a musician, too, so they could learn the universal language of music directly from me, but we’ve gotta hire help for that, too.

    I think my biggest thing is 1) “be nice and empathetic” as in, always follow the golden rule. And 2) the golden rule goes for the planet, too, not just people, so clean air, help preserve biodiversity, enjoy knowledge, all that.

    Right now, I just want my kids to be happy & thoughtful thinkers, and so far so good.

    • When people ask me about my

      religious beliefs, I have often answered that “you really can’t go wrong trying to live by the Golden Rule”.  It rather encompasses a whole ethical system of behavior, doesn’t it?  If some choose to believe that this means I’m a “Christian” in the traditional sense, that’s fine.  

      And I want my children to think.  That’s really important to me.  I see the consequences in my husband’s family of children being raised to just blindly accept and not question.  

  2. Well I take these very seriously

    1. a deep understanding and appreciation for the role of 1970s and early 1980s sitcoms
    1.  a critical eye for the intricacies of 1970s buddy cop dramas
    1. the ability to debate Sondheim vs. Schwartz and Robbins Vs. Strohman and Guare Vs. McNally
    1. Sarcasm
    1. abhorrence for all organized team sports professional and amateur
    1. skill at trivia

    I feel strongly I will have failed as a parent if I don’t send Liza out armed with those values I hold most dear

  3. My kids

    Did not have a choice about doing reconciliation first. I haven’t heard that the current crop of 2nd graders do either.

    It didn’t turn them off of Catholicism, but I can’t swear either of them had been to reconciliation since.

    • Liza did hers first

      about 2 months before her first communion. I really didn’t think about it they said “the 2nd graders w ill make their first reconiliation’ and I said “okey dokey’

    • we didn’t have an option

      We were taught that you could not take communion – first or otherwise – if you were not recently confessed.  So that was that.  But I’m not sure that was a good idea.

      The sin that weighed most heavily on my conscience as a child was the knowledge that I’d lied to the priest in the confessional, because I couldn’t think of any sins that were good enough.  When I thought about “bad things” to confess I couldn’t find any malice in my heart, and I could not think of any instances where I’d deliberately gone against my conscience to do something I knew was wrong.  To my mind I genuinely had no sins to confess.  But confession was mandatory, so I went into the confessional and made stuff up.  Afterward, I decided lying to the priest was a sin.  Should I go back and confess that?  The alternative was to take communion having deliberately sinned and without obtaining absolution – I knew that was wrong.  My first big moral dilemma.  I was too embarrassed to go back to the priest so I took communion, feeling like that was yet another sin.  I began the process with a pure heart and came out a blackened sinner.

      So maybe 7 is a bit young for genuine reconciliation.  :)

      • That happened to me, too!

        Which is why I still have some reservations around confession for a small child. Luckily, they have done away with the creepy confessionals, but it’s intense to tell someone your sins — especially someone you may not know at all!

        Our pastor is cool, but first reconciliation for me was kind of traumatic — exactly as you described. I was convinced I was going to go to hell.

    • Here too…

      Reconciliation comes first. You can’t do Communion without it.

      For some reason though, my daughter is being “fast tracked” and is doing both concurrently. I think they’re confused by the fact that she’s in year four (so doing it “late”), but is seven (so is too young). It’s too much for them to cope with. So the solution is apparently to do both Rec and First Communion in the same 10 week set of classes.

      Works for me. I’m not sure I could sell 20 weeks of classes to her!

      • These weren’t separate in my day

        One year of classes leading up to first communion, with confession a week or two before.  (I don’t recall hearing the word reconciliation.)

  4. Faith, Tolerance, Love, Charity

    That’s what I’m working on, though I battle myself A LOT on the last one. For faith, I’ve discovered that real Christianity values women as much as (sometimes more, too) than the men, so I teach them the parts that build self-esteem that I believe: God made you, perfectly, for a special purpose, and we’ll help find it together and teach you to be a strong woman. Our school teaches tolerance very well, but I just focus my belief that we are all equal and loved.  Love’s an easy one, they have great big open hearts :)

    I wish I could do bilingual, but they struggle with one language.  Zoe watches Dora in Spanish, so that helps, right?

    THANK YOU so much for the shout out link :)

  5. You know,

    at some point in my early parenting days, I think I distilled it down to make it as simple as I could.  My goal, as a parent, is to raise children to grow up to be the kind of adults I can like and respect.  

    We aren’t religious.  However, I can, and I think we do, manage to instill in our children the need for ethical behavior.  This leads to empathy.  A strong sense of empathy leads people to become involved in issues that they feel strongly about, whatever they might be.  Of course, most have picked up on the issues that I hold near and dear to my heart.  

    I also think that raising children to be open and inclusive is important.  It’s why we chose to live where we live.  It’s how we parent.  We don’t restrict information.  We don’t just throw it at kids, but we allow  any and all information to be part of the ongoing discussion.  Of course, this teaches children how to think for themselves, too…so it’s rather like killing two birds with one stone.  

  6. I would say

    I want to generally impart our values. Caring for others, honoring diversity, caring for the earth, etc. We’re atheists so I am not imparting any faith background.

    I would honestly probably have kind of a hard time with it if either of my kids grew up to be a Republican. Especially Santorum-style.

    • Yeah, that’s the kind

      of parenting dilemma that keeps me awake at night!

      Thankfully, my kids are old enough that I’m passed having to worry too much about this.  However, we had what I consider to be a close call back when my son was seeing the crazy right wing girlfriend.  While I don’t think my son would ever adopt those particular traits, I worried about possible grandchildren.  How would it feel to have grandchildren who thought you were representative of everything bad in the world?

    • We’re atheists

      but it’s important to me that my kids have religious literacy/fluency.  Also, I liked that we had a (UU) church home before we moved. It was the church of being a good person and it helped reinforce the values we are teaching them at home.

      Other than that, I want them to play nicely with others, speak up and out, and find their passion/bliss.

  7. my values vs their values

    As my sons grow and mature I’ve realized that it is less and less about trying to plant my values and more and more about nurturing and encouraging those values of theirs that I approve of.  They’re not blank slates, they have their own concerns and priorities that aren’t always the same as mine.  Real values come from within; if they’re externally imposed by society or religion or even by me they’re a pale shadow of what I want for my children.  Lucky for me my boys are both good people.

    Within the family we try to model and emphasize personal and intellectual honesty.  I guess the trait I want most to help my children develop is an open, enquiring mind that continually questions and searches for the truth.  Of course as atheists our focus is on morals and ethics, not faith, but I trust that nothing we value is inconsistant with religion if my son decides that is where he belongs.

    But the spanish that was so important to me 6 years ago is now relegated to secondary importance because as they get older, other priorities take precedence.  We remain undecided about whether to keep DS9 in his spanish immersion program through 6th grade.  Either way, I’ve done my part by setting them on the path, and it becomes up to them to continue or walk away from it.  

    • This is true

      It doesn’t appear that I am going to end up with kids who share all that many of my own interests. I think we do seem to more or less share the same values, but they are definitely their own people who are into doing their own things, not really “my” things. It’s nice seeing who they develop into. Hopefully we will find things to enjoy together as the years go on.

    • yes

      I agree that kids are individuals–mine are so totally different that it completely turned around my opinion on nature vs nurture. I increasingly see my role as being grounded so as to provide them with a stable base, facilitating their journey when possible, and modeling kindness (though I need to work on all that in a big way). I love your point about integrity. I value honesty highly and hope that my kids will too. No religion for us, but we are bilingual, which I value as an opportunity for them in this increasingly international world but would not consider a deal breaker.

    • oh gee…

      try having seven kids!  All over the place.  I totally agree it’s about fostering an environment that allows them to be who they truly are all within a framework of values.  

      We appreciate enquiring minds, too.   Without religion.  We have values that sometimes have to be acted on as I just advised my grown daughter.  I suppose I want to raise my children in a way that they are capable of comfortably making their own calls in matter of personal integrity.

  8. It’s not a choice here

    Our religious ed curriculum for second grade focuses on preparing for Reconciliation in December during the fall classes and preparing for First Communion in May during the classes that start in January.  We have very specific lessons dealing with forgiveness and God’s love for us leading up to Reconciliation.  Sins were taught as unloving choices and we spent a while discussing the difference between a sin and a mistake.  We emphasize that God forgives all of our sins and teach about actual reconciliation or making things right.  I don’t know that many go to confession much past their first time but there is an effort to make it very positive.  Right now, we’re focused on Communion and that has been interesting.

    However, my cousin’s sons received their First Communion two years ago and are just now getting to Reconciliation.  Their church does all of its religious ed as home study rather than classes.

  9. i struggled with the faith thing.

    I tried hard to find a fit for both me and my ex for a church.  It never happened.  Then when we divorced I tried the Catholic church ( grew up Catholic) but these guys kept throwing stuff out I couldn’t ignore.  In the end, now that my dd is 21 years old, she is just the kind of emphathetic, generous,tolerant, fair and kind person I worked to raise.  We did it without religion.  Most of what I think I wanted to share was cultural. I come from a long line of Irish Catholics.

    I think learning languages is fabulous.  Unfortunately I speak only English with a bit of French under my belt.  However dd went to a school that taught Spanish k through 8 and continued through hi school.  She is now fluent in Spanish.  Due to her interest in Middle Eastern Studies she has devoted herself to Arabic, takes about 5 years to be fluent.

    I think my goal as a mother was to raise an independent, self reliant, healthy adult with a good sense of humor.  Icing on the cake is I not only love and adore her…I really like the person she is.  I likely provided fodder for just enough hangups to be human and have to work through. :) No one likes perfection, eh?

  10. At this point

    If they are alive & relatively unharmed at the end of the day, I think I’ve done all I can. If they get good values out of the bargain, then bonus! But at least I’m giving them a bilingual education, which is important to us, & has been a goal every since Gus was born. Our school struggles with attracting diversity, but what we hope is that the kids get such a grounding in global citizenship that they can apply that to all cultures, races, heritages, & ways of living.

  11. Faith, for sure but mine is quite a bit different

    than yours. 😉 Expat and I agreed to raise our kids UU long before we decided to have any. My faith includes as its tenets respect for the inherent worth and dignity of every person, the responsibility to figure out your own beliefs and discuss them coherently, respect and care for the planet, the need for democracy at every level of decision making, and dammit, I’ve forgotten the other three. I always do that. But along with that, in addition to the spiritual quest in the Affirmation year, two major components of our religious education program are learning about all the different sorts of families there can be (cf. that “how I told my 3-year-old about same-sex marriage” FB meme that’s been going around), and a lifelong all-ages (first grade through the elderly—not all at once, different programs by age range) sex ed program that covers not just all the facts on all related topics, but also how to decide when you’re ready, how to say no, how to say yes, how to know if your partner is ready, and so on.

    Also, bilingualism, critical thinking, self-confidence, and a love of knowledge.

      • I was trying to do it without looking it up

        and never once in the ten years since I signed the book have I ever been able to remember more than six at the same time. Four may be a new low, though.

        In my hunt for a new church, I’m torn between looking for a church big enough to offer a full OWL program, and a mid-sized one that would probably only offer it to the late elementary and youth kids. My church in NJ was so small, they alternated Affirmation Year with an abbreviated OWLs program, and that was all they did with OWLs.

        • I made myself

          memorize the seven principles when I was active in a UU church.  Just tested myself and all but one and seven have deserted me.  

          I did have someone tell me once that one of the best ways to remember them was to think of them as increasing in size–moving from individual to church community to larger community to world to universe.  That usually helped.

          • See, I have a friend who’s active in the national

            UUA and is on the committee that has recommended doing away with the Seven Principles in favor of a more inclusive, short, mission statement. So ever since I found out they were working on that, I haven’t been able to make myself care about remembering it.

            I usually conflate inherent worth & dignity, justice, and free & responsible search for truth and meaning into one generic “respect yourself and everyone else” principle in my head. I remember democracy and the interdependent web of all existence, but … oh, crap, that’s still only 5. And I just looked them up when Gigi linked to them!

            My church at home had a gorgeous abstract rainbow mural of the 7 principles (in fact, I bought the shirt!), and I can’t even remember most of them while looking at it!  

            • Ah, #3 is the one I always miss

              I mix up “justice and compassion in human relations” with “justice in the world” and “respect for the inherent worth & dignity of every human being” respectively.

              • carp

                that’s #2. #3 is … is … wait … encouraging each other’s spiritual growth! which to me is the same as #1, 2, and 4. Why does it get its own number? If we combined them, we could add another important principle. Like coffee hour.

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