How Michelle Duggar Teaches Her Kids to Be Tactful
August 16, 2013
Question from a "19 Kids and Counting" fan: As you travel with your family and meet people from different cultural backgrounds, how do you teach your children to be polite and open-minded about foreign cultures and experiences?
It really is all about teaching them tact. When we are in a public place, the kids need to show respect for others, and that means that we’re not loud and boisterous with our behavior. We don’t want to loudly draw attention to ourselves and we want it to be a pleasant experience for everyone involved. I try to teach them to be tactful and not to blurt out questions or statements about people or situations that might be new or different to them. We want them to come and ask questions, to whisper in my ear or daddy’s ear, and ask the questions they might have. Because they do have questions and want to know about things that are new to them.
Jim Bob and I try to explain that some cultures are different than ours, and that’s ok. When we travel to other countries, I want to give the kids the freedom to ask questions of myself and our family members. It’s important not to hurt the feelings of people that aren’t exactly the same as us, so I want them to come to me first. I’ve explained to them that others may wonder why they are asking a certain question because it’s about something that is common for their culture. It’s important for them to be sensitive to the feelings of others.
We are happy to talk with the kids about whatever questions are on their minds. If we can’t talk immediately when a question arises, we ask them to remember the question, remind us later, and we’ll talk about it privately, when we’re able. We’ve got a ways to go to train our kids in the proper etiquette of being around other people in public places. Believe me, ours aren’t angels!
When we travel, we’ll sometimes have a situation where our children aren’t behaving in the correct way; they’ll be climbing on something they aren’t supposed to, or making noise or something like that. If that happens, I’ll have them go back and ask for forgiveness and apologize for their inappropriate behavior. So believe me, we are still in the learning phases of all of that with a number of our younger ones!
With children, they just speak (and do) what’s on their mind -- often. They don’t even think about it, they just have the simplicity and curiosity of a child. We’ve learned the importance of being tactful and gracious to others and want them to learn, too.