A survey by Public Agenda—a non-partisan public policy research group—found 84 percent of survey participants believe a major cause of disrespect in American society today is too many parents failing to teach respect to children. However, 60 percent also agreed that even when parents try to “raise their kids right,” there are too many negative role models in society that teach kids to be disrespectful. While complaints are plentiful, solutions seem scarce in the 60-page summary of findings on rudeness in America.
Can respect be taught? Are parents failing to teach manners to children? Can a 14-year-old boy be convinced that table manners matter? How can you help a child withstand teasing and bullying without becoming resentful? What to do when another parent’s or teacher’s rules vary greatly from your own? Was it easier to teach manners to children forty years ago?
Answers and solutions are found in here. Peggy Post and Cindy Post Senning, Ed.D.—the third generation family members of Emily Post—argue that manners are unquestionably essential for every child’s lifelong success and self confidence.
According to Peggy Post, “Manners education is inseparable from the other things a parent or primary caregiver must do to raise a responsible, self-sufficient child. It’s not a kind of add-on to be attended to after the schoolwork and the soccer, ballet, and piano lessons are done. Instead, teaching and modeling good manners are integral to daily family life.”
The book is organized around three key principles: 1) it is best to model and teach manners virtually from birth to adolescence; 2) manners education is most effective when geared to a child’s normal development; and 3) Mannerly behavior gives both children and adults the self confidence to navigate daily life.
The book is divided into six sections, based on age, from birth through the high school years. In each chapter, manners and teaching methods are geared to children’s particular capabilities during those years. Each section of The Gift of Good Manners is divided into five chapters that deal with core manners topics including:
According to Cindy Post Senning, the book’s approach is positive: “Rather than talking about problems that need to be fixed, we help parents teach kids to develop the right instincts and behaviors from the start. We believe kids—even teenagers—can and want to be respectful, kind, and considerate.”
The Gift of Good Manners focuses on understanding and modeling the principles and values that are the foundation of manners, and then shows parents ways to help their children take on these values and make them their own. The Posts also weigh in on topics such as children with special needs, the over-programmed child, etiquette for the new American family, overcoming obstacles in parent-to-parent relationships, dealing with problems at school and helping your teenager through the college application process. These sections, called “For Every Age” are found at the end of each section.