Rebecca Hagelin

The book underscores the strong correlation between good manners in all its forms and strong, attentive parenting. How would children learn to avoid quarreling and whining? It is quite natural that they do so. Where would they learn to offer someone a seat if the bus is full? How would they learn that their chores are their jobs? How would they learn to speak when spoken to by adults, to say "please," "thank you" and "you're welcome"? God doesn't put us on Earth knowing these things.

Children learn them when parents take the time to teach them and to enforce the rules. Absentee parenting, part-time parenting, parenting that says, "Go to your room, watch television, get on the computer, amuse yourself because I have neither the time nor the inclination to make you do otherwise," produces part-time results.

Karen Santorum has produced a full guidebook of the manners children should know. She covers the bases ? good manners at home and school, what to say and not say, how to act at the dinner table, how to wash and dress, caring for the elderly, sick and disabled, getting along with others, good sportsmanship, what to do at church, weddings and funerals, handling thank-you notes, and how to respect our country.

It's common-sense stuff, and other books include this information. But Santorum uses stories one can't forget to illustrate her points and point out that it's not the rules, but the underlying principles that matter. It's being considerate. It's being thoughtful. It's being helpful, generous and respectful.

In the end, that's what counts. And if your child happens to remember to use the right fork for his salad, so much the better.

Rebecca Hagelin

Rebecca Hagelin is a public speaker on the family and culture and the author of the new best seller, 30 Ways in 30 Days to Save Your Family.
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