Column: Families First

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 4, 2006

Equity, grace, accountability prove strong family values

By Maryanne Law

QUESTION: There is a lot of talk about strengthening family values these days.

I&8217;d be interested in some discussion of positive values beyond love and honesty.

ANSWER:

How about equity, grace and accountability?

In this life people are in different positions of personal and professional power.

Knowledge, money, talent, personality and good health can all translate into power. Most of us who have a positive power base have benefited from someone else&8217;s shared power.

We may have inherited good genes.

A family who valued education and work probably shaped our environment and directed our choices.

Teachers committed to their jobs invested time in sharing information and developing our skills.

Certain people enjoyed our company and provided the comfort and stimulation of friendship. Valuing equity is offering our strength to improve someone else&8217;s power base.

Parents, teachers and friends do it all the time.

Mercy is not receiving what we deserve &045; like a jail sentence for a crime committed that is &8220;stayed,&8221; so it does not have to be served.

Grace is receiving what we don&8217;t deserve &045; like a parent or friend who sees us as exceptionally special when we&8217;re quite ordinary to the rest of the human race.

If we grew up in a grace-filled family, we continually received provision and support before we could carry our own weight or pay back our debt, or even be sensitive enough to be grateful for sacrifices being made.

Accountability is being held to an expressed standard.

Someone provides a plumb line &045; that builder&8217;s measure that determines whether something is truly straight and accurate so the finished product is of high quality.

Accountability means someone cares enough to both think ahead and to take the time to evaluate along the way.

Accountability also means someone thinks a quality product, whether that is a task, a relationship or a life, is worth striving for and is attainable.

&8220;What are you doing? Where are you going? What are you planning?&8221; These are questions we are asked by people who care enough to keep us accountable.

Children learn the values of equity, grace and accountability by living with adults who are helpful, gracious and dependable.

We develop our children&8217;s values by what we say to them and by what we do with them.

Never underestimate the significant impact on a child of a grandparent who says, &8220;I&8217;m getting older, and I can&8217;t walk so fast anymore. But you can walk more slowly.&8221;

If you would like to talk with a parenting specialist about the challenges in raising children, call the toll-free Parent WarmLine at 1-888-584-2204/L&8217;nea de Apoyo at 877-434-9528.

For free emergency child care call Crisis Nursery at 1-877-434-9599.

Check out www.familiesandcommunities.org.

(Maryanne Law is the executive director of the Parenting Resource Center in Austin.)