Good Kids, Tough Choices: How Parents Can Help Their Children Do the Right Thing
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More About This Title Good Kids, Tough Choices: How Parents Can Help Their Children Do the Right Thing


A practical analysis and inspiring guide for teaching kids "ethical fitness"

Parents are beginning to realize that deficiencies in ethics and character are becoming a big problem among our nation's children. According to the latest data, lying, cheating, and rampant insensitivity to other people are increasingly common. What can parents do? In this book, ethics expert Rushworth Kidder shows how to customize interventions to a child's age and temperament. He encourages parents not to give up, since what they do can always make a difference, regardless of how long or deep the bad habits of dishonesty may be.

  • Encourages parents to intervene early and re-establish children on the right course
  • Explores the keys to ethical behavior: honesty, responsibility, respect, fairness, and compassion

All of Kidder's practical advice is based on the latest psychological and neuroscientific research about how kids develop character and learn what's right and wrong.


Rushworth M. Kidder PhD is the founder and president of the Institute for Global Ethics ( and a long-time columnist and senior editor for The Christian Science Monitor. He writes a weekly column for the Institute's Web-based weekly Ethics Newsline which circulates to nearly 10,000 subscribers in 142 countries. Dr. Kidder works extensively on ethical issues with Ford, Accenture, Reuters, the US Coast Guard and other organizations. He is the author of nine books on ethics, global affairs, and literature including Moral Courage and How Good People Make Tough Choices. Rush travels, lectures, consults, and trains on ethics widely.



Introduction: Three Lenses for Ethical Parenting.

How to Use This Book.

What If I Face Ethical Dilemmas of My Own?

1 Raising Kids in Today's Moral Environment.

What the Research Tells Us.

Why Parents Make a Difference.

2 Birth Through Age Four.

Branson and the Gold Coins.

Teaching Responsibility.

Playing According to Your Own Rules.

Loren Wrecks the Train.

3 Ages Five Through Nine.

Teaching Thrift in an Age of Opulence.

Teaching Ethics Through Principles.

Ethics and Peer Pressure.

4 Ages Ten Through Fourteen.

Resolving Ethical Dilemmas.

Zero Tolerance.

Avoiding Bystander Apathy.

Showing Moral Courage.

5 Ages Fifteen Through Eighteen.

Finding the Third Way.

A Sexual Crisis.

Caught Stealing.

Confronting Parental Weakness.

Explaining Divorce.

6 Ages Nineteen Through Twenty-Three.

Counseling, Not Controlling.

Supporting Your Daughter or Saving Your Grandchildren.

The Difference Between Courage and Stubbornness.

7 Conclusion.

How Emotion and Morality Interact.

Using the Moral Toolkit.

Top Ten Tips for Ethical Parenting.



Further Reading.

About the Author.

Questions for Discussion.



Kidder (How Good People Make Tough Choices), founder and president of the Institute for Global Ethics, a nonprofit organization that promotes character and integrity in corporations and other groups, focuses on parenting issues in his latest volume on the subject of ethics. Kidder treats children from birth to age 23, with age-appropriate chapters that address such questions as how to respond when children lie or steal, how kids can overcome selfishness, and how to react when a child breaks school rules. Arguing that "ethical fitness" can be taught and requires the same kind of long-term commitment as physical fitness, Kidder considers common ethical challenges through the three "lenses" of knowing what's right, making tough choices, and standing for conscience. Using "extended narratives" developed from seminars and interviews, the author dissects a range of moral dilemmas and explains how, through discourse and conversation, modeling and mentoring, and practice and persistence, parents can help kids develop moral courage and make ethical decisions. Kidder maintains that good moral habits can be taught and developed when parents are willing to make a commitment to communicate and stay involved. (Oct.) (Publishers Weekly, September 6, 2010)