We spend hours, days, years, hammering the same messages into our kids' heads. In our household, we teach our girls these three golden principles: manners, respect, gratitude.
Things get tricky, of course, when they're old enough to follow the news and see a president discredited and ridiculed – and yet we teach them to have respect for the office of presidency, at least.
Moving abroad it's no different. Following the US presidential election campaign was like watching kids during recess at primary school.
Let's be clear: Hillary Clinton is no angel and former staffers have described her mean temper and bully tactics. But shall we, on this historical day, focus on the new president of the United States and respectfully ask him to start behaving.
1. We don't name-call
If you don't like someone, let it go. If someone insults you, have the grace to respond calmly and walk away. Getting involved in a spat just creates a circle of viciousness, and who wants to be in the centre of a hurricane all the time? Rather use that energy to do your homework.
President Donald Trump has beef with people, South Park-style. He calls them names and insults them in such a juvenile way that if he were my eight-year-old kid, I'd revoke all TV privileges for a year (something tells me this will hit him hard).
Case in point: TV star Rosie O'Donnell, known for being outspoken, once called Trump a "snake-oil salesman". I know, that's name-calling. How does he react? By jumping into the ring, calling her a "fat pig", "loser", "disgusting" and "a degenerate". Intelligent riposte for a 71-year-old.
In this video clip below, he responded smugly, "Rosie O’Donnell is disgusting, both inside and out. I mean look at her, she’s a slob…" And again (he likes repeating insults): "Rosie is a slob. She’s crude, she’s tough, she’s arrogant, she’s pushy, she’s disgusting. In certain ways she’s a degenerate." Funny how he can "tell it like it is", but when you're his enemy, you're tough, arrogant and pushy.
The clincher was when he said: "The nice part about me, I’m not running for office. When people attack me, I attack them back." Yeah, that may now become an international problem, sir.
This was recorded by The Entertainment Tonight show on CBS Television in 2006 (name-calling isn't the only bad manners he displayed here, as we'll see later):
Don't copy your friend's homework, don't take your phone into exams, don't switch tests. Cheating is wrong, and it can even get you expelled.
By now it's common knowledge that "self-made" billionaire Donald Trump hasn't been paying taxes. And boasts about it too. When Hillary Clinton calls him on it during a presidential debate, he smirked, "That makes me smart." Watch it here:
What is so smart about not paying taxes? If you're now the guy in charge of getting people to pay their taxes?
9. We don't interrupt
If I'm talking to you or someone else, or I'm on the phone, you wait till I'm done. Interrupting irritates people, it doesn't give them time to present their point, and it's downright disrespectful.
Trump doesn't like to wait though. He's a busy man and he'd rather talk than think:
Also read: Are today's kids ruder than we were?
10. We don't use wing guys to sort out our problems
Reasoning skills are acquired early on (ask any parent of a six-year-old bargaining for ice cream). But there's always that one guy at school that surrounds himself with the burly buddies. The bully, the Biff Tannen (incidentally, this Back to the Future character was based on the actual Trump – true story). He's the one taunting others but as soon as the heat is on him, he turns to his muscled friend to intimidate the other gang and make the problem go away.
Here Trump doesn't like what reporter Jorge Ramos, a Mexican with legal US residence status, is asking him during an open session with the press, so he cuts him off. The journo won't be shut up, however, so Trump has him thrown out. Unbelievably, outside, Trump's aides hurl racist abuse at Ramos, saying he should "go back to his country". Watch:
Talking an issue through, going to the bottom of a dispute and digging deep to see why we react as emotionally as we do – that's the stuff of maturity.
11. We don't mock disabled people
Do I really have to explain this? Just no. Go to your room. How is this acceptable?
Teaching our kids we're all equal, that we should have respect for all people, and be humble and grateful for our own abilities... that's what human beings should have evolved to by now.
12. We don't extort
Ha. Here Trump pulled the "I won't come to your party unless you give me your lunch money" tactic. Also known as extortion. He was lined up for a CNN debate, but later said he'd pull out unless CNN paid him $5 million to do so.
So what now?
The reality is, Donald Trump is president of the US now, and in South Africa we have our fair share of leadership problems too. What to do? Let's resist mocking, ridiculing and name-calling those leaders, as easy and tempting as it may be, and instead focus on how we as families can help others and make the world a better place. That could include serving others, voting differently, or petitioning, or protesting. But joining the fracas only divides us further and lowers our standards. The world needs higher standards right now.
How do you teach your kids values when they're surrounded with friends and role models who may not espouse your family's values? Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org for possible publication.