Excerpted from, Good Kids, Tough Choices, by Rushworth M. Kidder.
These tips, distilled by my colleague Paula Mirk and Institute for Global Ethics staff through years of working with parents, children, teachers, address two questions parents raise most frequently: “Why does ethical parenting matter?” and “What can I do to make a difference?”
- Children learn self-steerage from watching us. Provide frequent opportunities for your children to see you as an independent thinker. Do the right thing, especially when no one’s around to give you credit for it.
- The language of ethics helps shape thinking and behavior. Integrate core values into your vocabulary. Instead of encouraging kids simply to”be nice” get specific. Urge them to “be compassionate,” “be respectful,” “be fair.”
- When you think out loud, your children learn your ethics.Let your children hear your thought monologues as evidence of how your mind works in the realm of ethics.
- Your ethical reasoning elevates their critical-thinking skills. Connect thought to action. Articulate the ethical “why” behind your behavior. Make it clear that your choices and actions are based on sound ethical reasoning.
- When you stretch to do the right thing, your children grow more ethically fit. Rather than saying, “I’m right, he’s wrong,” get in the habit of explaining why you and someone else disagree: “Here’s how I’m thinking, and here’s how he’s thinking.” Then be sure to ground both sides in ethics.
- When you admit your own imperfections, you take the pressure off your children. Rather than trying to seem perfect, let your children know that we all make mistakes–and take responsibility for yours.
- If you keep your ethical aspirations high, children are likely to do the same. Be consistent and conscientious about your ethics, and your children will more readily follow suit.
- You’re their number one role model. Your behavior matters. Be conscious that your children are watching. The little things can make the biggest difference.
- Your promote moral courage by modeling it. Let your children see you choose to take the tough stand over the easy way out. Talk about the challenges as you’re going through them.
- You make them believe in the future. Be enthusiastic and upbeat about applying ethics in your daily life and in the future. Children look to us to paint “adulthood.” What do you want them to see?
See related video clips:
- “Ethics and Parenting: Carly’s Story – Part 1,” a clip of Rushworth M. Kidder, President and Founder, Institute for Global Ethics during an Ethics and Parenting talk. Click here.
- “Ethics and Parenting: Daughter’s Email Dilemma,” a clip of Rushworth M. Kidder, President and Founder, Institute for Global Ethics during an Ethics and Parenting talk. Click here.
- “Ethics and Parenting: Eating Disorder Dilemma,” a clip of Rushworth M. Kidder, President and Founder, Institute for Global Ethics during an Ethics and Parenting talk. Click here.