National Association of Marriage Enhancement

Parenting with Your Marriage: Teaching Politeness & Courtesy

“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old, he should not depart from it.” (Prov 22:6 – ESV)


If you watch a toddler, you will notice the ways they start to copy their parents and often it is so cute! However, sometimes they will say an inappropriate word they heard the parent say or emulate an attitude of the parent that the parent didn’t previously realize he or she was doing. Yikes! Raising a child can be difficult because you can shut work mode on or off, but the parenting commitment is all day, every day. That is why you must be intentional about the non-verbal life lessons you teach your children. Today we will be focusing on politeness and courtesy.


Some people spend a lot of money sending their child to etiquette school and many hours disciplining them for not acting kind or polite. The best most-lasting lesson would be to practice it your self. Paul says, “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” (Phil 1:27- NIV) Now we know this verse is not directly about being polite, but it is important to remember that an attitude of Godliness is kind and caring. We are a reflection of the Jesus inside us and that should cause us to desire to emulate a sweet, loving, gentle kindness (in other words politeness). This is important to recognize because this should be the ultimate reason we teach our children to be polite—not as a reflection of what others will think of our parenting, and us, but that it is a reflection upon our Christian family who represents Jesus Christ to the world. Allow this truth to soak into your heart as you strive to intentionally demonstrate courtesy to your children.


Ask yourself: do you “walk like you talk?” Read through our following list and discuss with your spouse which ways you can better be respecting treating each other with politeness. Then follow up with an apology and a commitment in prayer to act right to your spouse (and others), and lead your child in the process.

–          Are you consistently saying “please” and “thank you?”

–          Do you interrupt or are you a good listener?

–          Do you have loud, public and biting arguments?

–          Do you show genuine interest in people—even if they seem weird or are annoying to you? Would you help someone without getting any benefit for yourself?

–          Would you want to talk to you if you were in a customer service position?

–          Are you observant of making others around you uncomfortable? Do you care about others around you in general?

–          Do you smile, laugh and reaffirm others with your body language? Basically, would you consider yourself approachable?