When we are young, the house where we live is our whole world. Everything is provided for us – food and shelter, warmth and love. We obey our parents without question, because if mummy and daddy say it, it must be right. Every experience we have is classified as good or  bad according to their reaction.

We quickly learn to do those things which earn their praise, and to avoid doing those things which upset them and earn their disapproval. As we grow older, we are more and more exposed to outside influences – school, friends and other adults.

The stages of growing up
Growing Up

We soon start to realise  that there are other values which are different from those our parents hold. For example, your parents have told you that some words, such as ‘bloody’, are swear words, and they have forbidden you to use them. However, in your friend’s house, everyone – children and grown-ups says things like ‘Bloody hell!’ when they are annoyed and no-one  seems to think that there is anything wrong with it. You are confused; you wonder what the right thing to do is. You try to resolve the conflict of values between two groups of people – your parents on the one hand, and your friend’s parents on the other – for whom you have equal respect.

Parents and us

Eventually what happens is that we start to lead double lives; we reserve some forms of behaviour for the home, and others for the world outside the home. The real conflict starts when we reach adolescence. We begin to question everything and everyone, including our parents and their values, because we want to establish our own independent values.



 Unfortunately, as long as we are living at home and are dependent on our parents, we cannot lead our own lives according to our own views of right and wrong. The trouble is that if our parents give us more freedom, we are bound to make mistakes, and they will wonder if they have given us too much freedom. On the other hand, if parents allow  too little freedom, their teenage children are likely to become resentful and rebellious.



Somewhere between the two extremes, it ought to be possible to find a sort of ‘democratic’ alternative, which allows children the freedom to grow up and to make their own decisions, including mistakes, but which also offers them help and protection when they need it.

Sleep and awake
Between sleep and awake


Family conflicts of values
Conflict of Values – A values model of work or family conflict


A. What do the following refer to?
1. “those” (line 10):
2. ‘them” (line 12):
3. ‘others’ (line 20): other
4. ‘the two extremes’ (line 32):

B. Find words in the text which mean the same as the following.
1. do what you are told to do (paragraph 1):
2. adults (paragraph 2):
3. a feeling of approval and liking (paragraph 2):
4. state of disagreement (paragraph 3):

C. Mark the statements as True (T) or False (F).
1. Children believe that their parents know the best.
2. Outside influences affect children more and more as they grow up.
3. Questioning the people and the values around us starts during adolescence.
4. Teenagers begin to live according to their own values as soon as they determine them.
5. Parents should have total control over their children’s acts and decisions.

1. How do children decide whether an experience is good or bad?
2. How do we try to resolve the conflict of values?
3. When do parents think that they have given their children too much freedom?

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