The Values Auction

Reflection and Awareness

In this 30‒45 minute activity, men identify the values, behaviors, and characteristics they want to nurture in their children by bidding in an “auction” of attributes that they value in children.From Fatherhood Development: A Curriculum for Young Fathers by Public/Private Ventures.


  • Play money
  • Newsprint and markers

Planning Notes

  1. Write the following on a sheet of newsprint: "I value ___________, and I want my child to value it."
  2. Transfer the information (paraphrase if you wish) from the Leader Resource List (below) "What I Value in a Child" onto newsprint. Write large enough so that participants can see the values clearly as they bid.


  1. Begin by saying: "We just saw how important fathers are in their children's lives. You play a big role in how your child will turn out. It's important that you know which behaviors or qualities you value in a child and to think carefully about how you communicate these values." Ask the following:
    • Remind us, what is a value? (Something that you believe in, is important to you and often guides your behavior.)
    • Give me an example of a value. (Honesty.)
  2. Ask the fathers to look at the statement on the newsprint and to call out responses to fill in the blank. 
  3. Ask whether anyone has attended an auction, and have someone who has describe what an auction is like. Tell the group that you're going to run an auction. Give each participant $300 in play money, then review the procedure: 
    • Look over the list of behaviors and characteristics (from "What I Value in a Child") outlined on the newsprint. 
    • Plan to bid on those behaviors and characteristics you really want for your children. 
    • The bids can go as high as $300 or as low as $20. The person bidding the highest gets to "buy" what he values. 
  4. Serve as the auctioneer by reading each behavior in a positive manner and asking for bids. Be a strict timekeeper, allowing no more than one minute for each behavior to be bought. When the time is up, the group member with the highest bid wins the item. Write his name and the amount spent next to the item. 
  5. When the auction is over, ask the discussion questions. 

Discussion Questions 

  • What was that activity like for you? 
  • Why did you buy a particular behavior or characteristic? 
  • Would you have bought different values if your child was the opposite sex (i.e., if your son was a daughter or your daughter was a son)? Why or why not?
  • What were the three most popular behaviors or characteristics? Why do you think these were chosen so often? 
  • What was the least popular behavior or characteristic? Why do you think it was chosen less frequently than the others? 
  • What does a child need to be able to develop the behaviors and characteristics you bought? For example, what will help a child be very successful in school? (To value being smart and getting good grades, to have good study habits, to enjoy reading, to be curious and ask questions.) 
  • How do you try to encourage these traits in your children?

Leader Resource List: “What I Value in a Child”

  • A child who is loyal to me at all times.
  • A child who never gets his/her feelings hurt.
  • A child who is curious and asks many questions.
  • A child who always listens to me. 
  • A child who never talks back.
  • A child who will always tell me everything he/she is feeling. 
  • A child who has many friends. 
  • A child who can control his/her temper. 
  • A child who can stand up for him/herself even if it means fighting.
  • A child who is a leader, not a follower. 
  • A child who looks good.
  • A child more like me than like his/her mother.
  • A child who is very successful in school.
  • A child who is physically fit and healthy.
  • A child who will follow my religious beliefs.
  • A child who is respectful of me and other adults.
  • A child who feels good about him/herself.
  • A child who is honest.
  • A child who is good at sports.
  • A child who is affectionate.