This review is authored by regular contributor Jennifer Donovan, book lover and mother of two of book lovers, who blogs at Snapshot.
When I first heard of the book Raising Respectful Children in a Disrespectful World by Jill Rigby, I knew that was a book that I wanted to read. The title says it all. So much of what she had to say resonated deeply with me. The book is written in an uncompromising tone that still manages to be encouraging to the parent who is trying to do better for her kids. For example the book opens with this challenge:
Today’s children are angry and rebellious at rates higher than any other generation. They are the first generation to do worse psychologically, socially, and economically than their parents. But they’re not rebelling against rigidity and rules as the hippies of the sixties did; they are rebelling against the lack of structure and adult guidance.
Our children, from ghettos to gated communities, are desperate, searching for someone who will tell them the truth.
You, parent, should be that person (page 2).
The Reality Check questions at the end of each chapter help you assess your strengths and weaknesses in each area and offers more of a challenge to correct some things that you might have let slip.
This book is a must-read for every parent–from children just beginning to talk, up to what Jill Rigby calls the critical year of 6th grade, and beyond. Jill Rigby answered some of my questions regarding the shift in our culture and families:
What does the erosion of manners say about what is happening to our society and culture? Is there something greater going on?
Manners are the outward manifestation of the inward condition of the heart. What we do and say comes from our hearts, not our minds. Our minds process the information we take in according to the content of our hearts. Long held standards of decency and respect are disappearing from our society. Underneath the erosion of manners is the loss of morals.
The teaching of self-esteem has been the greatest culprit in the demise of our culture. The emphasis on “me” creates a society filled with individuals looking out for themselves rather than each other.
Your boys are grown now. In your book you share a lot of knowledge gained by hindsight. Are there certain principles that should be absolutes for all parents? Are there issues that should be non-negotiable?
Principles to remember:
We must be the persons we want our children to become.
You cannot expect more of your children than you expect of yourself.
- Moral standards–Contrary to popular belief, it’s not the moral standards that have changed, but our society’s attitude toward those standards. For example, pre-marital sex has always been immoral and continues to be, whether or not anyone abides by the standard.
- Respect–Too often today children are allowed to be disrespectful to adults and to each other. Sarcasm has become an accepted form of humor. Degrading “put downs” are a part of everyday speech. Respect goes beyond speech to include respect for property and possessions. Respect should be non-negotiable.
- Movies/television–With the slide in movie ratings that’s taken place in the last fifteen years, it’s extremely difficult to discern from a rating if a movie is age appropriate. Many PG-13 movies would have received an R rating only twelve years ago! Parents should view movies before allowing their children to watch. My sons were not allowed to view PG-13 until past their thirteenth birthday and then only after it was approved. They clearly understood the subject was not open for discussion.
As adults we’ve also let manners slide. What are some things that we should do, or avoid doing, to be a good example for our children in this area?
If manners is defined as an attitude of the heart that’s self-giving not self-serving, the key to being a well-mannered person is the ability to put the needs of others ahead of our wants.
- Speak to everyone we come in contact with.
- Put the shopping cart back in its place before leaving the parking lot.
- Listen carefully to others who are speaking, whether that’s in a one on one conversation or in an auditorium.
- Avoid gossip.
- Keep your commitments.
- Show respect to elders.
Another wonderful resource that Jill Rigby has is a complete manners curriculum, either for use at home, or in schools. I have the Manners of the Heart at Home book and Amanda (who is almost nine), enjoys reading a chapter or two with me as we are finishing our dinner each night. After the first night we did this, each night she has asked, “Can we read more of the manners book?”
Each chapter includes the objective (why this is important to develop), guidance (thoughts to share about specific ways that the child can live out this value), and the life lesson (a fun way that they can incorporate or practice this value). Using this book in this way has been a great way to open up discussion of our core values in a positive way, instead of bringing them up when she needs to be corrected for them. There are three parts: everyday courtesies, which includes showing respect for adults, siblings, and friends; communication skills, which includes listening skills, telephone manners, and thank you notes; and table manners, which addresses posture, spills, and setting the table. I also highly recommend this resource.
Read more of the author interview at my site, Snapshot.
The author has donated a copy of Raising Respectful Children in a Disrespectful World to be given away to one reader from the U.S. or Canada. Please leave a comment by Friday if you are interested in winning. Come back next week to see if you have won.
Congratulations to the three winners of Mind Over Body: The Key to Lasting Weight Loss is All in Your Head :
and to Lacey (comment 14) who wins Face to Face with Caterpillars from National Geographic.