The formation of values
We start forming values in our childhood. First we learn to appreciate things that fulfill our basic needs, but we value especially those people that provide them to us. Their behavior towards us becomes the main reference of what is valuable.
Thus, our character and personality are molded through the attitudes and behavior of the people who raise us, whether they’re our parents or other relatives. Their behaviors determine in large part what will subsequently become our most important beliefs and principles.
We learn to value the substance and the form of everything they say and do, and what they don’t say and don’t do. Each gesture or comment affects how we learn to make choices We also learn to differentiate between the theory and practice of values. The latter is what marks us the most.
So the consistency and coherence of our parents’ behavior is what strengthens our formation. If they practice what they preach, our personality will be stronger than if they don’t.
Later, when we are students, we start feeling social pressures and the pressure of values that are different from ours, as we relate to other people. The strength of the values formed through our parents is put to the test.
Values are often confused with habits, and many parents hope that school will form the values that were not instilled at home. This is not possible, because school does not fulfill the basic needs of life… that is the responsibility of those who raise us.
Teachers, leaders, and value models at school can reinforce what was formed at home, but they cannot replace them. If the convictions formed at home are not solid, they will soon be exposed to an intense social competition against other beliefs.
Why is it so difficult to form values? Because, unlike norms, values are convictions; they are behaviors we gladly decide to follow and produce satisfaction. We can follow norms against our will, but values have the support of our will. We have learned their importance due to the benefits they produce, individually and collectively.
Those who play a leadership role in our lives are most powerful at conveying to us their values. They are our parents, elder siblings, grandparents, some relatives, teachers, peers we admire, professors, and bosses.
However, to convey something, we must first possess it. Values are only conveyed through the example of our daily attitudes and behaviors. They can seldom be formed by explaining them or through a list of what is considered correct or incorrect. Memorizing their theoretical meaning does not guarantee their implementation.
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