Teaching kids to be respectful isn’t always easy. Just when you think they’ve learned how they should behave in certain settings, they throw it all right out the window.
I’ll never forget the time my older son, Trent, did that. He was just a little guy at the time, maybe 4 or 5. I was out of town when my wife, Jean, called me almost in tears over Trent’s behavior. He had thrown a world class fit in the grocery line over a candy bar and refused to calm down.
Jean was mortified. She couldn’t get him under control because she was also taking care of our younger son, who was only a baby. Trent was acting out so badly a uniformed soldier watching the whole thing came over and said, “Son, you need to listen to your mother.”
That was a tough situation for my wife, but she was grateful for the man’s support. So was I.
But I’ll admit that my wife and I were both a little discouraged that day because we realized that teaching our children to be respectful and to have good manners might not be as easy as we first expected.
I think that’s probably true for all of us. Raising kids looks so easy before you’re a parent. But before long, we’re all standing in a grocery line squabbling over candy bars.
That’s why raising kids to be polite and to think of others is a journey, and we’ve got to stay engaged for the long haul.
Fortunately, there are ideas that parents can employ to make the steps of that journey as effective as possible.
On our broadcast for the next two programs is author Jill Rigby, an accomplished speaker and the founder of Manners of the Heart, a non-profit organization designed to promote manners and respect in society. Also with us is Danny Huerta, our executive director for parenting here at Focus on the Family.
Jill says there are three styles of parenting – two to avoid and one to embrace wholeheartedly.
The first to avoid is parent-centered parenting. This is when mom and dad think of themselves first and put their own interests ahead of their children’s. Some parents try to live vicariously through their children. Maybe dad didn’t make the football team, or mom didn’t make the cheerleading squad. Now, they’re determined to see their child succeed in those areas – whether that’s their child’s interest or not.
The second style to avoid is child-centered parenting. This is when parents allow the home to revolve around the children. There was a time, Jill says, when children were crowned the prince or the princess of the home, and appropriately so. Those designations kept the authority line in the proper order with mom and dad remaining as the king and queen of the home.
But many parents crown children the king or queen of the home. That puts parents in a subservient role to their kids. And the hard truth is when we bow before our children, we can become an obstacle to our children bowing before God one day.
The style of parenting we should all be striving for is character-centered parenting. This is the parent who says yes or no not based on what will pacify their children, but upon the desire to help their children discover who God created them to be. Character is what parenting with eternity in mind is all about.
That’s a lofty goal and, as I said, it’s a journey parents have to be prepared to stay engaged in for the long haul.
That’s why I think you’ll find our next couple of programs to be beneficial. We’ll offer some age-specific ideas to equip you to help your children grow to become better, more respectful adults, who hopefully, will choose to serve the Lord.