A value is anything a person believes will make the quality of life better, or very concrete like food or money.
Parents generally want their children to adopt their values in the believe that their children's lives will become as enhanced as their own lives have or could have been.
By and large, children do adopt the great majority of likeable parents' values. They do so largely because children watch their parents closely and copy every behavior that seems to work, form holding a fork in a way that gets food into the mouth to adopting particular opinions about life. This process is called "modeling" and is by far the strongest influence parents have on their children.
Another powerful way of transferring values to a child is for the parents to share and discuss their values before they become an issue; that is, to teach values in the No Problem Area. An example would be a discussion of feelings and beliefs about sex with a pre-adolescent child. However, since the child's life is a separate life from the parents, with other resources of influence impacting the child, some of the parent's values will be rejected by the child as not enhancing and other values will be adopted that are more appealing. For one thing, the child will come into contact with other models in daily life, on T.V., in books, at school, etc. who will appear to have done a better job of life-enhancing in certain areas than the child's parents.
The child will also encounter problems and opportunities in life for which the parents provided no modeling, so the child will need to reach for other sources of values with these problems.
When the parent experiences the child's new or different values (in verbal and nonverbal forms), some of these behaviors will be acceptable and others will not. The parent's problem then becomes how to deal with those new values that are not acceptable to them.
Some of these unacceptable behaviors will have tangible effects on the parent which the child can recognize and accept when confronted with an I-Message. However, when confronted with an I-Message. However, when a child's behavior is unacceptable to the parent and the child is unable to see any tangible effect on the parent, and when the value behind the child's behavior is very strong, it is usually impossible to motivate a change out of consideration for the parent's feeling alone.
Situations like these are called Values Collisions and unlike other conflicts, their resolution does not lie in tapping the child's motivation to change in order to help the parents; the child's motivation to change must be internal, i.e. to help him/herself. There are a number of ways to facilitate this self-directed change.
This is the opportunity to work out any Values Collisions with The Behavior Window. And, here are some behaviors parents have told us their children considered nonnegotiable:
- Having a friend parents don't like
- Having pierced body parts or tatoos
- Wearing jeans full of holes, beat-up sneakers, etc.
- Having dyed hair
- Wanting to quit college and become a musician
- Joining a church of a different denomination from the parents' or deciding not to go to church, temple, etc.
- Smoking cigarettes
- Having dates with a member of another race of religion
- Smoking marijuana*
*Excerpt from Dr. Thomas Gordon's F.E.T. Adult Resource Book