Help Spread Civility Through Example

By on March 20, 2012

In a recent opinion piece, Sara Hacala lamented the absence of civility in our daily lives. Stressing that technology has changed the way we communicate with others and that bad behavior is often awarded with celebrity, Hacala offered sensible ideas to encourage personal change.

Civility Tool Kit

  1. Practice the habits of kindness, generosity and gratitude.
  2. Increase face-to-face encounters and interactive phone calls to enrich your life, as they require more of a personal offering from you.
  3. Create meaningful, respectful dialogue with your doctors as relationships with medical personnel increase as we age. Your provider works for you and you deserve compassionate treatment. If you don’t get it, report the provider as negative evils cause loss of Medicare dollars.
  4. Hold elected officials accountable for their behavior and their statements. Urge civil discourse among all to avoid negative impact that will not move our country forward.
  5. FINALLY: be an example of civility and manners for your children and grandchildren. Teach them empathy and respect for others. 

This last points to our future. If we are unable to help future generations see the positives of civility, negative behaviors will increase bringing strife and dissension. Finding civility means achieving united goals and treating one another with compassion.

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Pay It Forward

One example to follow is using the concept of “pay it forward” an idea fleshed out in the 2000 feature film with Kevin Spacey and Haley Joel Osment.

Ralph Waldo Emerson defined the concept: “…we cannot render benefits to those from whom we receive them…But the benefit we receive must be rendered again, line for line, deed for deed, cent for cent, to somebody.”

A member of Alcoholics Anonymous put it this way: “You can’t pay anyone back for what has happened to you, so you try to find someone you can pay forward.”

As parents and grandparents and members of the Boomer generation, we can definitely pay it forward.     

Communicate with your Child

In my post, New Moms: Talk to Your Child, I laid out the positive first step to help future generations: sharing a kind and loving parental voice from the first hour of life. This voice continues to provide a child with guidance and love and will keep a child close as growth lessons become necessary.

An angry voice cannot convey a message that will be heard and followed. Talking calmly, civilly if you will, to your child before she can even talk back, will prepare you for contentious situations when they begin.

Parents, grandparents, please develop listening skills and hold back opinion as you truly listen to what your child, teenager, young adult has to say. Sitting down for a conversation, airing each other’s point of view will work better than an angry email or a text message filled with harsh words.

Steps to Help Future Generations Learn Civility

Grandparents and parents provide models for future behavior.

You might already be doing all of these things, so use it as a check-list:

  1. Provide young children with a group play situation where they are required to share toys and the world with other children.
  2. Help children get over shyness and fears by moving them out of the comfort zone through sharing, adapting to new environments.
  3. Help children understand what discipline is, what saying no means, and what rewards are and how to earn them.
  4. Teach children manners and good behavior. In every new environment he/she should know proper behavioral conduct so that excesses at either end of the spectrum are avoided i.e. not too open with strangers, not reticent with teachers and friends, able to deal with bullies and peer pressure.
  5. Help children build good study habits, organize, prioritize and communicate with you.
  6. Help a child learn how to be alone with himself/herself. 

Parents and grandparents can be civil mentors in a young person’s life, helping grow and foster confidence and self-esteem. In turn, our growing children and grandchildren will often show us the way.

Life can throw all of us into tricky situations and having examples of civility to model will keep us on good and worthwhile paths.

Thanks to Bay Area Discovery Museum

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Originally posted on Boomer Highway.

About Beth Havey

Beth Havey is a Boomer, member of the sandwich generation, passionate about health and the snags in the fabric of life that affect our children and grandchildren. Help me slow life down on BOOMER HIGHWAY Be sure to stop and to chat with her.

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Help Spread Civility Through Example