(Intercollegiate Studies Institute)
CBN.com 700 Club co-host Lisa Ryan spent time with Sen. Rick Santorum and his wife, Karen, author of Everyday Graces: A Child's Book of Good Manners, to discuss educating children on proper etiquette through the power of storytelling.
KAREN SANTORUM: The fact that I'm a mother of six children, as you can imagine, having good manners is really heavy on my mind these days.
LISA RYAN (reporting): Who's this vivacious mother of six? She home schools and even has the energy and time to write a book, Everyday Graces: A Child's Book of Good Manners. This busy lady is Karen Santorum. She's also the wife of U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum.
KAREN SANTORUM: It's something hard to teach; it takes a long time. You start when they're born, and you work until they're young adults. I thought it would be such a good idea to have a book that taught good manners through stories, and that's really how it came to be.
SEN. RICK SANTORUM: Manners aren't just good etiquette. We think of manners as where do the fork and spoon go. It's a real moral imperative; it really reflects the inner morality of the individual. One of my favorite quotes from the Founders is John Adams, who says, 'The Constitution was written for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for any other kind of people.' The reason he said that is that the more religious and moral you are, the less government you need. What we're finding now is government is growing by the fact that we're less civil as a society. As a result, we'll be less free.
LISA RYAN: Is there responsible parenting in our culture right now?
KAREN SANTORUM: There's no question that it is our responsibility to raise good kids. Children are such a beautiful blessing, these gifts that God gives us. With that gift comes this huge responsibility to raise them well. The most important thing that I'll ever do is to be a good wife and raise my children in a way that is pleasing to God. When you look at studies, there was an ABC poll and Public Agenda poll, so many studies recently, Parent's Magazine, and they're all saying that it's parents who are failing to teach good manners to children and it is our responsibility. It starts with us.
LISA RYAN (reporting): Some of the stories that fill Everyday Graces are Hans Christian Andersen's The Candles; The Tale of Two Bad Mice, by Beatrice Potter; and Aesop's Mercury and the Woodman. And the poetry is wonderful. . .Politeness by A.A. Milne, Block City by Robert Louis Stevenson, and the list goes on and on.
(to Karen): Why is storytelling so much more effective than lecturing?
KAREN SANTORUM: It's because all of life is a story, and we're all main characters of a story that's never been told before. The beautiful thing about a story is that children can look to the heroes, virtuous behavior that they read about in a story, and it awakens the moral imagination. Then they can emulate that good behavior in many different situations. That is why I love the power of a story.
SEN. RICK SANTORUM: Who was the best teacher?
KAREN SANTORUM: Jesus Christ.
SEN. RICK SANTORUM: He taught in parables. He taught in stories. He had a few do's and don'ts. He had the golden rule. But many of the rules, it was sort of laid out in ways that the people could understand and apply to their lives.
LISA RYAN: How does Everyday Graces assist the parent, the reader, in applying lessons that are in the stories?
KAREN SANTORUM: There's a lesson after each story. The parents can read the story and end at that. I had something happen with one of my sons a couple of weeks ago where he was not being a good sport playing soccer. I brought him in and he kind of rolled his eyes and thought, Oh great. Mom is going to give me a lecture. I didn't. I just read him the story of Lou Gerig and Stan Musial and left it at that. I didn't read the passage under the story, and he went back outside and it was the sweetest thing. I was watching him out of the corner of my eye, and he patted his friends on the back and said, 'Good game, guys.' And I thought, There's the power of a story where I didn't give him a lecture, rules and do's and don'ts, and he got the message.
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