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Teaching Civic Responsibility as a Family Value

Updated: Oct 7, 2022

Teaching civic responsibility as a family value involves first of all sorting out our personal views on civic engagement, then distilling them into lessons we can teach our Grands.

Ideally, this process began when our own children were young but as we look around at the unrest present in our modern culture it’s easy to see a generation or two might have fallen down on the job. Let’s pick up where we are and commit to bringing civic responsibility back into the family discussion so that our values don’t get lost in the noise.

First, what is civic responsibility? At it is defined as, “The patriotic and ethical duties of all citizens to take an active role in society and to consider the interests and concerns of other individuals in the community.” It involves being informed about societal matters, being engaged in a constructive manner, and maintaining a focus on the common good.

Perhaps one of the most important aspects of considering how to teach civic responsibility as a family value is to consider the final portion of the definition first. What is the common good for all citizens? How do we engage and make policy decisions that will consider the interests of all individuals in a community? How do we avoid breaking our society into a variety of special interest groups uninterested in seeing beyond their particular interests?

These are not easy questions and require seeing beyond the immediate scope of our individual lives. They get into the deeper thoughts of multi-generational living. What is good for the furtherance of opportunity and freedom for the generations to come? What world do we want to see for our grandchildren?

To answer these questions for yourself, look to history, look to the legal world and our founding documents (in the U.S.), and look to the principles that flow from the lessons and guidelines found within these areas. As Americans, we’ve always valued freedom and liberty to pursue opportunities, for example. What are the pillars of this type of thinking? What makes freedom for all possible? What makes opportunity and achievement possible for every citizen who wants to work hard and chase success?

In the answers to these questions, grandparents will find the values important to pass on to the next generations. Start by identifying three key values you hold and then create opportunities to share them with your Grands. Write out each civic responsibility value clearly, then find articles, books, stories, or historical facts to share with your Grands. (See our Family Values Statement Builder by Signing Up for our free monthly newsletter for guidance on how to write out family values.)  Don’t just create a lecture. Don’t rant about the failures you see around you. Develop the value, then ask questions of your Grands. Have them find news stories that relate to a particular issue and discuss it with them.


One family I worked with years ago used family dinner time to teach their children about civic matters and world events. They required a news article to be brought to dinner for family discussion. Over the course of a family meal, a part of the time was spent talking about the current event and how it affected their world. Over time, their children learned about what was happening around them and were guided on how to analyze it in relation to their own lives. We’ll talk about this more next week in our Facebook video when we discuss teaching critical thinking skills.

Each generation faces the challenge of teaching and inspiring the generations to follow. In the area of teaching civic responsibility, this challenge affects not only our immediate family but our local, state, national, and global communities. How do we choose to view our fellow man and the responsibilities we have toward them? Will we send forth young people into the future with a solid foundation for making choices born of responsibility toward others or self? Grandparents, we have a deep responsibility in this area and I encourage you to never give up on your values. Share wisdom, share history, and teach young ones to see the bigger picture of human interaction.

How important do you think teaching civic responsibility to your Grands is?

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