Exploring the Distinction Between Virtues and Values

Parenting through Virtues and Values is something that is meaningful to me. So what exactly are Virtues and Values, and what is the difference between the two? These terms are sometimes used interchangeably, but they have distinct meanings and play unique roles in shaping our character and guiding our actions. Let's dive in on both, and discuss the  significance that they can have in our lives and our childrens' lives.


Let's start by defining these two fundamental concepts:

Virtues: Virtues refer to a set of positive traits or qualities that reflect moral excellence and goodness. They are often seen as desirable character traits that guide individuals in making ethical decisions and engaging in ethical behavior. They are cultivated and developed over time through conscious effort and practice. They represent how we choose to behave and respond to various situations.

Values: Values, on the other hand, are inherent, deeply held beliefs and principles that provide a framework for what individuals consider important and meaningful in life. They are often instilled in us from a young age, and can be influenced by our upbringing, culture, religion, and personal experiences.  Values serve as a foundation for decision-making and serve as a compass for our actions and priorities. 

Individual (Virtues) vs. Collective (Values):

Virtues: Virtues are often seen as individual character traits, reflecting a person's moral integrity. They are about who you are as a person.

Values: Values can be shared collectively by a group, society, or culture. They help shape the norms and standards within a community. 

Action (Virtues) vs. Belief (Values): 

Virtues: Virtues are more action-oriented. They guide our behavior and dictate how we interact with others and the world around us. 

Values: Values are foundational beliefs. They provide a broader framework for assessing what is important in life. Example -if honesty is a core value, it serves as your moral compass.

In summary, while virtues and values are related concepts, they serve distinct roles in our lives. Virtues are the tangible character traits and behaviors that reflect our moral excellence and guide our actions, while values are the deep-seated beliefs that underpin our moral compass and influence our decisions.

Understanding the difference between virtues and values is crucial for personal growth and ethical decision-making. We can even create a Family Mission Statement together to review, defining mutually which Virtues and Values that each member agrees is important to live by. 

By recognizing our core values and consciously cultivating virtuous traits aligned with those values, we can lead more meaningful and morally sound lives while setting this as a standard for our children. Both virtues and values play pivotal roles in shaping the individuals we aspire to be and the societies we aim to build.