One of the hallmarks of this year’s Presidential campaign has been plain rudeness on both sides, from the primaries to the conventions. We also see that lack of basic courtesies and manners on television, online, social media, and in life. Manners have taken a back seat.
Thankfully, as a parent, you are in the driver’s seat. You have a great opportunity to influence the next generation toward civility and graciousness. You probably heard it said: Children learn more from what’s caught, than taught. Your children are always watching you. That’s why it’s so important to model these five manners. I’ve used the acronym SPARK, so you can easily remember them.
1. S is for Selflessness.
A me-first attitude is the root of so many of the world’s problems. Indeed, I maintain that The Greatest Enemy of Every Marriage is selfishness. It’s what leads to all those other things, like unfaithfulness. Putting others first communicates affirmation and appreciation; it tells them that they matter. [Tweet This] It can be as simple as pouring your spouse the last cup of coffee from the pot to sacrificing your golf or shopping day with your buddies to be there for your kids’ track meet.
2. P is for Please and Thank You.
This seems so basic it needn’t even be mentioned, but we live in such a culture of entitlement where little fundamentals like this are being forgotten. You certainly don’t see these niceties in much of our popular media. Making requests rather than demands–“Please remember to take out the trash,” rather than, “Take out the trash now” can oil the hinges of domestic life. Even if it’s a chore that’s expected of them, saying “thank you” when it’s done should be standard. But it’s not just what to say, it’s how to say it. Is your general tone kind and warm? This is one of 5 Things I’ve Learned About Communicating With My Wife.
3. A is for Attention.
Politeness is more than just words, however. We can communicate as much by our body language as we do our lips. Do you give your kids your undivided attention at breakfast, or are you half-buried in the newspaper? Why not initiate technology-free mealtimes so everyone is fully present? Look them in the eye when talking with them, so they know you are really listening. These 5 Tips to Improve Communication With Your Spouse can also apply to other relationships.
4. R is for Respect.
It seems to me that, these days, most people want respect—but they don’t want to give it, especially to older people. Those with gray hairs are dismissed for driving too slow, walking too slow, and for being behind the times. How different from some other cultures, where elders are revered and honored for their wisdom, their experience, and their virtues. Personally, I love getting to talk with older people, as I travel, gleaning from their life experiences. I want to model that respect I have for them to my kids. Here are 6 Ways to Help Your Kids Connect With Their Grandparents This Weekend.
5. K is for Kindness.
Kindness is all the four previous points put together, and more. It’s being thoughtful and forgiving, serving and caring. And it starts with you, mom and dad. It’s “love in action.” And it can be learned: here are Five Ways to Cultivate Kindness in Your Home.
Perhaps you might consider SPARKing a manners revolution in your home. Sit down together as a family and talk about these five points. Agree to encourage each other when you see these values being lived out. And maybe you are brave enough to ask your children how much they see them in your life?
What other manners do you believe you need to model for your kids? Share your thoughts here.