Each day, with every new experience, kids learn important life lessons that help them develop values. As parents, these morals and values are in the back of our minds, often subconsciously, when we do things with our children like bake a cake together, make a card for a relative, help them build a den with their friends or just let them play in the garden. DiG wanted to explore mums’ instinctive understanding of values more deeply, so we spoke with 240 mothers, 20 Grandmothers, and 5 Great Grandmothers in 10 locations around the world to do exactly that. We called the project ‘Mamma Mia’, and some of our most interesting findings are shared below. Values are integral to each and every person and help provide us with personal, social and cultural worth; in essence, they shape our identity and place in society.
They not only guide us, indicating what is important, good or useful, but they can also inspire and motivate us. Regardless of social and cultural differences, mums globally see the responsibility of instilling values as their personal role. Whether in Turkey, Brazil or Indonesia, mums everywhere share a certain set of values as a bench mark for raising their children:
Mother driven values (non-negotiable) – those we feel duty bound to instil, such as honesty, respect for others, sharing and giving, self reliance and responsibility and respect for cultural traditions and elders.
Child and mother driven values (encouraged) – those we feel we can actively encourage but which are personality driven, such as determination and confidence; or, those that are rewarded and reinforced, such as love and gratitude towards the family and sociability and relationships.
Child driven values (secondary values) – those we feel our child will develop naturally and passively but which we can facilitate, such as creativity, discovery, curiosity and imagination. When our kids recognise and understand the values we have tried to instil, it is hugely rewarding, filing us with pride and happiness.
Child driven values such as creativity, imagination, curiosity and discovery are very important for kids’ development, but as mums, we place less direct importance on them. Most of these values are naturally instilled and can be stimulated or facilitated through play and outdoor experiences such as climbing trees, rolling down hills or jumping in puddles.
Whilst we may be anxious to let kids have free reign to discover through curiosity, in case they are harmed (or come home dirty), play provides kids with essential experiences that shape and build character. In tandem with other values, it can also increase our own happiness and pride – how rewarded did you feel the last time your child painted a picture for you?
Not only does it show they understand love and gratitude and the importance of sharing and giving, but they are displaying naturally creative and imaginative tendencies.