I was on a radio show discussing how the behavior of politicians and celebrities give permission for children to bully each other. It was an interesting angle, looking at the behavior of adults in our culture and discussing how the lack of civility and mutual respect feed bullying.
But let’s be honest. The biggest influence is in our homes.
When I cut off a driver on the highway and he hand gestures me in a not-so-friendly way, how do I respond?
Or when the person in front of me in the grocery line is taking too long, do I model patience and kindness?
How about the neighbor whose sprinkler system is aimed wrong and watering my car in my driveway every morning? Do I approach him with the love of Christ?
Every day, there are multiple opportunities to model civility for our kids. While we may not see much civility or mutual respect in politicians or celebrities, our kids are primarily learning from us.
A radio host recently asked me, “How do we bring back civility to our culture?” My answer, “Each person has to decide to live out Kingdom principles.” Even if we don’t always succeed (trust me, I make mistakes too!), our goal should be to value every person and not engage in personal insults and injury.
Your kids might hear politicians being nasty to one another, a rock star declaring his entitlement or a TV talk show host name-calling, but in your home, you have the power to model the proper way to treat another person. We can disagree, have debates, and take opposing positions, but we do not have to be mean and personally insulting in the process. And modeling civility in the small things of life is a powerful way to raise a respectful child.
Regardless of the situation, let’s remember that our kids are watching us and learning how to treat others by what they see us doing.