I recently came into possession of this book, and if I had to choose just one word to describe it, I’m not sure that I could pick a word which would completely do it justice. E Is For Ethics is certainly inspiring and timeless. While my kids are both long past the age of being read to, they aren’t too old for productive and ethical discussion or debate – something which we still engage in, particularly during our weekly Sunday night family dinners.
While there are many “self help” books about parenting on the market, I feel that Ian’s book is different because as he says in his introduction, his only qualification in writing this book is the fact that he is a parent. To me this speaks volumes, because it really doesn’t matter how many doctorates or letters you have after your name – nothing can prepare you for being a parent other than the moment you become one. Ian has created real situations involving his two lead characters, Lucy and Elliott, along with supporting family and general public characters put in real life situations to which children can easily relate.
Each of the 26 stories told in E is For Ethics leaves its ending unresolved, leading to multiple results and opening up the chance for discussion on how the story could go. Each chapter, from honesty to respect, offers discussion ideas and quotes from both the famous and the infamous. Ian has artfully found a way through his very short scenarios for parents to gauge how their children perceive the world in general and how these little people think about what is right and what is wrong.
When my kids were young, one of their favourite movies was DragonHeart. As they watched it obsessively, I took the opportunity to discuss The Old Code which Bowen tries to follow. They both knew it by heart, and I believe that they both still try to incorporate those words into their daily lives – although sometimes I do have to wonder at some of the things they say or do. The important thing is that they are free-thinkers, they definitely don’t follow the crowd, and they both have a social conciousness about them. While I certainly won’t take 100% of the credit for that, I know that I gave them a good foundation, and this is precisely the ongoing value of E is For Ethics.
Ethics are timeless, and should you find yourself faced with difficulties in teaching moral lessons to your children, E is For Ethics offers some great starting points, minus all of the psych-speak. Simplicity is often best – because complicated is, well, complicated and unclear. As Ian writes in his book’s conclusion, “…even if you think you know about something or how to do something, there is always a new twist or a new way to try it. And it’s the same way we learn about ethics. Every situation is different and so is how a family deals with it.” One point which I truly admire Ian for is the fact that he is not really telling you what to teach your children, he is simply giving you, as parents, a starting point and then leaves the rest up to you.
Much like The Old Code, E is For Ethics covers those areas which are important characteristics for an honourable, compassionate and productive member of society – many of which seem to have taken a back seat in terms of importance for many people today. For example, last week I was talking with a guy who grew up in the same neighbourhood I did, which was a tight-knit, mainly agricultural community. Our discussion revolved around how much our little town has changed, and how people in general don’t seem to be as honourable as they used to be. We are the current generation running long-time family businesses, and we would like to know what happened to the time when a handshake and your word was enough to honourably seal a deal. Your conduct in business was your reputation, and growing up in a small town meant that everyone knew whether or not you truly were as good as your word.
I feel that in many ways society has forgotten about many of those values, and Ian’s book is a great way to perhaps rediscover those values for ourselves as we discuss the scenarios with our children. One of the greatest gifts we can give our children as they grow up is time, and to borrow A & E TV’s slogan, reading and discussing E is For Ethics with our children is time well spent. I would be completely remiss in not giving this little book a huge recommendation to parents and grandparents everywhere. Even if you aren’t a parent yet, chances are you might become one – pick up E is For Ethics and keep it for the future. You’ll be glad you did. Ian definitely gets five stars from me for E is For Ethics.
* The Old Code from DragonHeart
A knight is sworn to valor, his heart knows only virtue, his blade defends the helpless, his might upholds the weak, his word speaks only truth, his wrath undoes the wicked.
The right can never die, if a man still remembers him. Words are not forgotten, if a voice pronounce them clearly, The Code always shines, if a heart preserves it brightly…