The Five Strategies of the Virtues Project, conceived by Linda Kavelin Popov, Dr. Dan Popov, and John Kavelin, is a blueprint for fostering a culture of virtue and character within communities and families.
Inspired by the wisdom of various spiritual traditions and drawing from psychology and educational philosophy, these strategies guide individuals and groups in identifying virtues, recognizing teachable moments, setting ethical boundaries, honoring the human spirit, and offering compassionate companionship.
When combined with the Four C’s of Successful Families framework, parents will contribute to bringing out the best in their children and themselves. Let’s describe these strategies, focusing on how they can enrich family life.
Strategy One: Speak the Language of Virtues
Language is integral to shaping behavior and instilling values in a family setting. Consider replacing criticism or vague praise with specific virtue-based language. For instance, instead of a general “good job,” you might say, “Your generosity in sharing your toys was wonderful to see.” Such targeted communication encourages the specific virtue and helps family members recognize the goodness (virtue) within themselves.
Strategy Two: Recognize Teachable Moments
Every day, families encounter moral or ethical education opportunities—these are the “teachable moments.” Maybe a sibling dispute arises over sharing a video game. Instead of simply resolving the issue for them, parents can use this as a teachable moment to discuss virtues like fairness and cooperation. The aim is to inspire conscious choices rather than merely enforcing rules.
Strategy Three: Set Clear Boundaries
Boundaries are the invisible fences that offer a safe, predictable environment where virtues flourish. Whether it’s bedtime routines or rules around screen time, clear boundaries provide a structure that supports growth in self-discipline and responsibility. In upholding these boundaries, explaining the virtues they promote is beneficial. For example, “We have a bedtime because it helps us practice the virtues of self-discipline and consideration for others who need to rest.”
Strategy Four: Honor the Spirit
Spirituality isn’t necessarily about organized religion; it’s about recognizing each person’s innate dignity and worth. Family traditions, shared celebrations, and even daily rituals like eating together can all honor the spirit. These practices enrich family members individually and collectively by fostering a sense of wonder, gratitude, and emotional connection.
Strategy Five: Offer The Art of Companioning
Sometimes, family members, especially children, don’t need advice—they need someone to listen compassionately. Companioning is being there without trying to “fix” the situation. It can manifest as a parent sitting beside a teen struggling with social issues, offering empathy and understanding. In such a space, individuals often find their own insights and resolutions, guided subtly by the virtues they’ve absorbed from their family culture.
Applying the Five Strategies of the Virtues Project in your family setting could be a transformative experience. They offer a sturdy yet flexible framework for nurturing essential virtues. Each day becomes an opportunity to learn, love, and grow together, strengthening individual characters and the family. Remember that virtues are not a curriculum but a language, a dialogue that evolves with your family’s unique journey.
Stay inspired, and may your family life be enriched by the virtues you see and bring out together.
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To learn more about the Virtues Project, visit their website at https://www.virtuesproject.com/