Nurturing positive values starts at home

The recent results of the third National Values Assessment survey reported that Singaporeans placed family as the most important personal value (Singaporeans take family, humour and fun seriously; July 31).

While this is heartening, the dissonance between some of the attributes that we value personally, what Singapore society is today, and what we would like to see in our society raises deep concerns.

Specifically, relational attributes such as "compassion" and "caring" are valued, but they are a vast contrast from items like "self-centredness", "kiasuism" and "complaining" - values which are perceived as features of our society today.

While this issue may require a structural look at the social health of our civil society, perhaps we need to deepen our commitment to values that build the family, and review the way we teach these values at home.

Our children may not naturally inherit values that have been passed down through the generations; rather, they need to take ownership of and embrace these positive values themselves.

As values are caught rather than taught, parents play a pivotal role in modelling positive values and traits in their everyday lives, such that their children will consider the importance of these behavioural traits, and consider making them their own.

Moreover, parents need to nurture connectedness at home, where children experience close relationships with their family members and hold deep connections to their beliefs.

In this way, children will grow to take ownership of and embrace positive values, and become more willing to exercise these personal values outside of their homes and in society. This will, in turn, move us away from limiting attributes like being "kiasu" and "complaining", which can be potentially harmful at home and in society.

Parents should not be alarmed when our children appear to challenge our values. What is perceived as rebellion may just be a season of questioning to determine the depth of their values and, in time, solidifying what they believe about the world around them.

If we are intentional in modelling positive traits, allowing our children to ask questions, and talking about these values openly, we can shape the next generation and contribute to the health of civil society in time to come.

Joshua Liong

Principal Trainer

Focus on the Family Singapore

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 07, 2018, with the headline 'Nurturing positive values starts at home'. Print Edition | Subscribe