A Window into Life in the Suburbs

"Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these." Luke 12:27 (NIV)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Mind Your Manners

Everytime I am engage in those "where are your manners" conversations with the girls, I see myself in a universal battle for civilization.
How hard can it be right... to remember to say "please" and "thank you" and a host of other social niceties that distinguish human beings from the beasties?
Monstrously hard, it would seem, if my track record is anything to go by.
Just when you think that you've taken a positive step forward, amnesia hits and the adults-in-the-making lapse into barbarism. The first clue to the relapse is the demanding tone. Then it's a screechy "I want"... accompanied by some kind petulant request for refreshment or for an unnecessary bric a brac or plaything.
"I want some lollies.", "I want something to eat.", "I want Barbie (or Ariel)", or even better, "Gimme that XYZ".

In order to salvage civilization, quick action is required. Like many who have come before us, we employ the age old guessing game.
"So what's the magic word?"
"What happened to your manners?"
"What must you say when you want something?"
"What must you say now... when someone give you something?"

The 3 year old who is fiendishly capable of firing up her lungs to full capacity in self-defence, drops to a whisper and a mumble. Suddenly, when asked to repeat verbatim the polite way to ask for something, she turns coy and tongue-tied.

Drilling... that's the ticket. Not the kind of that requires a power tool and a crack in the head although that can be tempting. Drilling, drumming, and reinforcement seem to be synonymous with persistence.
Call me skeptical, I'm not the kind of person to believe that children evolve good manners without some kind of external prodding along the way.
It's verra verra nice when they do it on their own without the frowns, stern looks and cues. But it takest time... years... it would seem...

So what if children are lacking in social graces? It's not the end of the world.
Well, not yet anyway. A society without manners is a society bound for anarchy. Children are our future, net contributors to society.

It shouldn't be about oneupmanship, of course. However, no one can judge another's motives. I don't believe in manners for manners sake but at the core it is a gesture of respect for another human being. And God only knows in the age of road rage and internet flaming, we desperately need to instill into young minds the importance of respect for others.

No doubt it is a battle... and one worth fighting for.


  1. Absolutely worth fighting for! If there is only one thing that my children ever learn from me, it must be to use their manners. Respect is so important and becoming not so normal.

  2. That seems to be what I do all day, separating children from fights and making them apologise for being rude, saying please and thank you for things they want and get.

    Sometimes I feel like an automated machine myself.


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