« Cell phones: a necessary back-to-school accessory? | Main | Some parents are too involved »

What I learned from Ted Kennedy

      Ted                                 The passing of Ted Kennedy made me reflect on an television interview I saw a few years ago with Maria Shriver and her mother, Eunice Kennedy Shriver ( I think it might have been on Ellen). What I took away from the interview was that the Kennedy commitment to work, family and giving back to society was ingrained in every family member from a young age. Every night, dinner table conversation at the Kennedy home focused around what family members had done to be charitable or civic minded.

       For the Kennedys, it wasn't enough to balance work and family. The mandate in this priviledged family was to squeeze some giving back time into their busy days. When I heard that Ted, had passed away, I thought about all he had done to try to make America a better place. Clearly, what you teach your children and the values you instill makes a difference in how they live their lives. Here's what Maria said at her mom's recent funeral...something similar to what would be said at Ted's funeral:  "If she were here today ... she would pound this podium ... and ask each of you what you have done today to better the world."

      Recently, I read an interview in Good Housekeeping called How to Raise Rock Stars with Denise Jonas, mother of the Jonas Brothers, the popular boy band.Like the Kennedys, mom preaches to her sons the need to give back.  She says her purpose in life is to raise good, decent, loving men.  Denise holds a hard line on manners to keep her sons grounded while they're surrounded by a world of glitz. She says her most important parenting principle, the one tenet she doesn't budge on. "Kevin and I aren't friends with our children. We're their parents. That's very important."

      As busy as I get, I've been thinking about these famous parents who instill manners and values in their kids. It may be time consuming and exhausting, but making the extra effort for the future generation seems well worth it. I think Ted Kennedy would agree.