Values are Caught, Not Taught

Posted on: October 26th, 2016

META Quick Tip: Values are Caught Not Taught

Tips for preserving your intangible legacy - the memories you make, values you share, communities you strengthen, traditions you honor - by our Special Projects Assistant, Marianne Cothern.
Know Your Legacy header graphic mother daughter fishing

Values are Caught, Not Taught

by Marianne Cothern

What values did you learn from your parents and grandparents? How did they teach you these things? Odds are they tried to teach you with words but these lessons rarely stuck. The values and lessons we hang on to are those we absorb over time.
Photo of two child and toddler with laughing grandmother
Me with Grandma Muegenburg and my little sister, Melinda

Hanging out with Grandma
One-on-one visits with my grandparents were a highlight of my childhood. After making a pre-dawn breakfast for my Granddad, my Grandma would return to bed to read the paper. My favorite thing was to crawl into bed with her and snuggle under the covers. Later we’d get up and do her normal routine slowed down to a pace that allowed me to help.

Everyday Activities Slowed to a Child's Pace
Planning dinner we’d look through cookbooks and talk about our favorite foods. Doing laundry meant impromptu folding lessons (for or by me). Lunch time meant the two of us shoulder-to-shoulder (me on a stepstool) at the kitchen counter making sandwiches. There were errands, card games, yard work, visits with her friends, sewing, baking, and work on her many volunteer projects. She involved me in all.

Cocktail Hour - a Sacred Tradition
When Grandad came home it was “cocktail hour.” (A Shirley temple if I was lucky!) Grandad watched a ball game with the sound low while Grandma and I worked on a puzzle or looked through magazines. I loved this peaceful time. Then there was dinner followed by dishes, maybe some Lawrence Welk, then bed. I couldn't wait to get up and do it all again.

Learning by Watching
I didn’t realize it at the time but what I loved was the comfort of the routine, so different from the boisterous life at home, and all the one-on-one time I had with Grandma. The simple shared activities created pockets of time for easy conversation, comfortable silence, laughter, bonding, and teaching by example. I learned countless invaluable things from my Grandma and not a single one did she tell me directly. I learned all simply by being around her and seeing her consistently doing the right things over and over.
Photo child and grandmother loading dishwasher
My sister, Melinda, and Grandma Muegenburg in Grandma's Kitchen

If you want to connect with young people in your life find opportunities to just hang out and let life happen. When an overnight visit isn't an option try one of these activities to foster an environment for relaxed conversation and comfortable silences.

Suggested One-on-One Activities:
  • Coloring (kids and adults)
  • Play games
  • Plan a cooking project
  • Work in the garden (children love to help!)
  • Grocery shopping (let young ones look for list items)
  • Run through sprinkler in the backyard
  • Play dress up
  • Bring out the good china and have a tea party
  • Do puzzles (This has become surprisingly popular at our house!)
  • Visit the Library
  • Beach day
  • Go to a local farmer’s market and make a pie with your fresh fruit
  • Look at old family photos.
  • Watch favorite team play (TV or live)
  • Go for a walk/hike
  • Whale watching trip
  • Do a creative project together
  • Create a family tree together
  • Share a hobby (one teaches the other or learn something new to both)
  • Go flea marketing
  • Backyard camping


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*Some meetings required. Coloring is optional.



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Attorneys Frank Corral and Ted Muegenburg
Frank Corral and Ted Muegenburg, Attorneys

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