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Tools for building respect in children and marriages

Recently, an AirTran Airways flight crew was compelled to ask a family to deplane before take-off. Some 112 passengers, the airline crew and the pilots were held up by a young child’s behavior. The child refused to be seated, buckle-up and obey parental and airline instructions. The flight was delayed for about 15 to 20 minutes.
The airlines simply followed FAA rules with their actions and put the family on a later flight. In addition, they rewarded the family with free roundtrip tickets for the future, but the family was furious and vehemently declined the gracious offer with retort: “We shall never fly with this airline again!”
In comes Glenn Beck. On his Jan. 25 show on CNN, this story made national headline news. Now, who do you call for insight and wisdom when a young child’s behavior results in such unfavorable consequential headlines? Beck called Jill Rigby, the author of Raising Respectful Children in a Disrespectful World. What Beck coined an “airline tantrum,” Rigby would call the outcome or consequence of child-centered parenting. And in one minute of prime CNN air time, Rigby’s book becomes a prime parenting too to ensure on-time take-offs!
This book is, for sure, an important tool for parents seeking to raiserespectful children. Rigby reminds readers that since the 1970s, theproponents of self-esteem — helping kids merely feel good aboutthemselves — only fostered self-centeredness with no respect forothers’ feelings and wants. What is needed, she says, is for parents tohelp their kids develop self-respect. This means the parent focuses onwhat a child must become rather than merely what he or she wants.
Thisis the emphatic theme of Rigby’s book. Parents will raise respectfulchildren in this disrespectful world when they “command their respectthrough a balance of love and discipline, even in the little things.”And, says Rigby, “the younger the child, the more important the littlethings.”
Rigby has skillfully designed a format and guidelines for parents to enroll their children in the School of Respect. Four distinct stages are outlined according to age, with each stage well guided with developmental goals and specific child-training methods to reach those goals. It is her notion that there are some inherent, crucial questions that need answering in the life of each child at every stage of development from birth to 19 years old. She exposes the crucial questions to the reader and even provides miniature, how-to-respond windows.
At first glance, readers may believe Rigby is merely falling back on the psychologically entrenched child development principles, but I believe she is using a more biblically informed approach.
Rigby’s approach to educating the child in the School of Respect has the foundation of Proverbs 22:6: “Train a child in the way he should go.” Her biblically informed approach encourages character-centered parenting with respect instilled in the child as follows: God, others and then self. She furthermore emphasizes the importance of instilling purpose, not mere performance in our childrearing, and uses the example and exclamation of Jesus in Gethsemane when he said: “Not my will, but Thine be done.”
Rigby reminds her readers of the profound statement of Zig Ziglar, who stressed the importance of purpose when he said, “What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.” By emphasizing purpose in the development of our children, she prepares the reader to accept her cautions to be a parental coach and not a cheerleader; to use discipline (training) and not mere punishment; to set boundaries without building walls; to teach gratefulness and not mere greediness; and to shield our children as very precious treasures from the world of trash (movies, Internet, video games and television).
Rigby’s book is not only easy to read and follow, but in fewer than 200 pages of crisp, clear and educational writing, she instructs and conveys what every parent needs to consume to raise a respectful child in a disrespectful world. This book will serve as a capstone to reverse the trend of child-centered parenting and help parents to assume the task of building within their children that which will gain them respect in this world — and even on airplanes!
Parents also should consider Pinocchio Parenting: 21 Outrageous Lies We Tell Our Kids by Chuck Borsellino (Howard Publishing, 2006). In this 288-page book, Borsellino helps parents to examine the lies, cliches and half-truths we tell our children.
As a father of three, a husband of 27 years, an ordained minister and licensed clinical psychologist, Borsellino’s view of life’s lies is informed by experience, professional expertise and divine principles. This book is a jewel for the parental toolbox because it is challenging, informative and, at many junctures, funny. Each chapter contains a lie we tell our children, but then with skillful wisdom and writing, Borsellino provides us with practical ways to tell our children the truth.
Finally, married couples — with and without kids — should take a look at I Promise: How 5 Essential Commitments Determine the Destiny of Your Marriage by Gary Smalley (Integrity, 2007).
In the latest work by one of America’s foremost marriage experts, Smalley calls for respecting marriage. The emphasis in this work is on developing marital trust and security through five essential commitments. The author believes that these five commitments, or promises, will provide every marriage with the foundation for an excellent marital environment of physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual security.
ALAN MARTIN is a professor of family ministry at Oklahoma Christian University and a minister for the Edmond, Okla., church.

Filed under: Reviews Staff Reports

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