What do you say?
Remember that parental prompt our parents would give us to remember to say, “thank you, ” “please,” “excuse me,” “may I please be excused?”
We do share those are phrases in our collective vernacular? Correct?
I think we have lost something in translation. Somewhere in the invasion of “say whatever you are thinking,” we have lost the practice of having manners.
Whatever happened to manners? Where did they go? They must be around here somewhere, like those expensive sunglasses I shouldn’t have purchased last summer.
Whatever happened to manners? You know, back in the day, young people took etiquette classes. Families used to have Sunday dinner with linen napkins and maybe two different kinds of forks at the table. Parents would teach their children to put their napkin in their lap, to pass the butter, and to sit up at the table.
Back in the day, people would shake each other’s hands, look people in the eye, and say, “nice to meet you.”
But today? Good Lord.
Whatever happened to being offended by crass language, immature name calling, and flagrant disregard to humanity?
I’m not saying we need to go back corsets and coming out parties. I’m not saying that men and women should be separated by gender roles or responsibilities. What I am saying, is that our children are growing up believing it is o.k. to live without a filter, or a sense of what is appropriate to say to each other, to other adults and to the world – and that we adults are modeling that behavior.
They see and make posts on U-tube, Snapchat, and Instagram images of themselves without thinking. They believe they can say and do whatever they want without thinking through the consequences.
And there are consequences.
Today, with the uninhibited temptation of texting, people say whatever comes to their mind without thinking about that the fact that that feeling at the moment can become forever part of their persona, when really it was just a fleeting thought, that should have kept fleeting.
The media says that if we are shocking, than we will be noticed. So we try to keep shocking the system to be seen.
How many times can our culture be shocked, before we realize we are flat lining?
Whatever happened to civility, decency and kindness?
This falls on us adults. If we are outraged at the way kids behave today, we better take a long look at the way we permit political leaders to talk to each other, the way we talk to strangers and the ways in which we let violent language pollute our psyche.
The whole world needs to stop and ask the question, “is this a speak it, or a think it?” Then stop, reflect and then speak, or not.
We must hold our leaders and ourselves to a higher standard of conduct, in which we are not impressed with name calling, vulgar language, or petty remarks. We should be so offended by those who do this, that we not avoid them, but we teach them that they cannot talk or behave in a manner that is unbecoming to the office they are seeking, or the role they are in.
Why? Because our children are watching and they deserve better.
Because if we lose our common value of civility, we lose ourselves.
We must teach our children well.
Here is an article by David Lowry to help us with some guidelines:
How are we doing?
25 MANNERS EVERY KID SHOULD KNOW BY AGE 9
Helping your child master these simple rules of etiquette will get him noticed – for all the right reasons.
By David Lowry, PhD.
Your child’s rude ‘tude isn’t always intentional. Sometimes kids just don’t realize it’s impolite to interrupt, pick their nose, or loudly observe that the lady walking in front of them has a large behind. And in the hustle and bustle of daily life, busy moms and dads don’t always have the time to focus on etiquette. But, if you reinforce these 25 must-do manners, you’ll raise a polite, kind, well-liked child.
When asking for something, say “Please.”
When receiving something, say “Thank you.”
Do not interrupt grown-ups who are speaking with each other unless there is an emergency. They will notice you and respond when they are’ finished talking.
If you do need to get somebody’s attention right away, the phrase “excuse me” is the most polite way for you to enter the conversation.
When you have any doubt about doing something, ask permission first. It can save you from many hours of grief later.
The world is not interested in what you dislike. Keep negative opinions to yourself, or between you and your friends, and out of earshot of adults.
Do not comment on other people’s physical characteristics unless, of course, it’s to compliment them, which is always welcome.
When people ask you how you are, tell them and then ask them how they are.
When you have spent time at your friend’s house, remember to thank his or her parents for having you over and for the good time you had.
Knock on closed doors – and wait to see if there’s a response – before entering.
When you make a phone call, introduce yourself first and then ask if you can speak with the person you are calling.
Be appreciative and say “thank you” for any gift you receive. In the age of e-mail, a handwritten thank-you note can have a powerful effect.
Never use foul language in front of adults. Grown-ups already know all those words, and they find them boring and unpleasant.
Don’t call people mean names.
Do not make fun of anyone for any reason. Teasing shows others you are weak, and ganging up on someone else is cruel.
Even if a play or an assembly is boring, sit through it quietly and pretend that you are interested. The performers and presenters are doing their best.
If you bump into somebody, immediately say “Excuse me.”
Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, and don’t pick your nose in public.
As you walk through a door, look to see if you can hold it open for someone else.
If you come across a parent, a teacher, or a neighbor working on something, ask if you can help. If they say “yes ,” do so – you may learn something new.
When an adult asks you for a favor, do it without grumbling and with a smile.
When someone helps you, say “thank you.” That person will likely want to help you again. This is especially true with teachers!
Use eating utensils properly. If you are unsure how to do so, ask your parents to teach you or watch what adults do.
Keep a napkin on your lap; use it to wipe your mouth when necessary.
Don’t reach for things at the table; ask to have them passed.
Originally published in the March 2011 issue of Parents magazine