Q&A: Raising a kind and respectful child

Q: My husband and I are expecting our first child (a boy).  We want to raise him to be kind and respectful, but as we watch other parents we’re beginning to realise that it might be easier said than done. Do you have any suggestions?

A: Most mums and dads would agree that raising children looks easy before you’re a parent. Teaching children to be polite and to think of others is a journey, so parents need to stay engaged for the long haul.

Author Jill Rigby, an accomplished speaker and an advocate for promoting manners and respect in society, says there are three styles of parenting – two to avoid and one to embrace wholeheartedly.

The first to avoid is parent-centred parenting. This is when Mum and Dad put their own interests ahead of their children’s – or even try to live vicariously through their children. Maybe Dad didn’t make the badminton team, or Mum didn’t make the swimming team. 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-centred parenting. This is when parents allow the home to revolve around the children, who get anything they want. That puts parents in a subservient role to their children. And it certainly doesn’t teach a child to be kind to others and put them first; just the opposite, in fact.

The style of parenting which we should all be striving for is character-centred parenting. This is the parent who says “yes” or “no” based not on what will pacify their children, but upon the desire to help them develop positive traits and respect for other people. That’s a lofty goal and it’s a journey parents have to be prepared to stay engaged in for the long haul. If you’d like more ideas for ways to build character in your children, explore our Resources.

© 2018 Focus on the Family.  All rights reserved.  Used by permission.

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