“This I Believe”
As parents, we are always quick to describe our own children as amazing, smart, funny, beautiful, and handsome. Of course, they are. We are also quick to judge other people’s children, compare them to our own, and criticize the parents for their behavior.
Kids are kids, and they will all have their moments, good and bad, slip-ups and temper tantrums. They surprise us with acts of selflessness and compassion as well.
My mother taught me that “manners are minor morals” and I have vehemently tried to instill this in my daughter. She has, in her two years here on this planet, always been expected to say her “pleases” and her “thank yous”, “bless yous” and her “you’re welcomes” ever since she could say “up”, “momma”, “dada”, “juice”, “milk” and “shoes”.
She says “excuse me” when she needs someone to move, and “sorry” when asked. Sometimes, yes, sometimes apologizes unprompted.
As I said before, we all think that our children are extraordinary. What makes me think that my child is extraordinary are her manners. I am constantly annoyed, shocked even, when I don’t see this same behavior in other children in public. I don’t even see it in some of my own friend’s children. Some parents just don’t seem to get the gist of simple etiquette. Am I just way too naive? Maybe my daughter is one of the rare, well- behaved kids that are good most of the time. But maybe, just maybe, her father and I have something to do with this.
When we become parents, we are given both a wonderful gift and a huge responsibility. We see in our own children everything good and our hopes and dreams for them to do better than we have. I hope. I am not blind though. Lily has had her fair share of time-outs and “please don’t do that’s”. She is two. She behaves inappropriately. We try to correct and modify.
I get so frustrated when I bring her to a playground and other parents seem to ignore unfavorable behavior in their own children. Pushing other kids out of the way to get to the slide, throwing sand, CURSING!!!!!! No child is perfect, (my own has thrown her share of sand at the beach) however, this is the difference that I see: I tell her that it is not okay to do.
I am not perfect by a long shot. After nicely and politely answering many questions about the plaster casts on my daughter’s feet, (she was born with clubfoot) I became so sick of people blatantly asking “What’s wrong with her?” “What happened?”. Some people asked out of general concern, some related that they too themselves had, or had children with orthopedic issues. That’s cool. But when a woman asked, “What did you do to her?!” with a look of disgust on her face; I had had it. I curtly answered that I had accidentally shut my child’s legs in the car door. She shot me another look of disgust and walked away. I was thinking to myself: “Honestly, lady, if I had done something so horrible to my child that would require her to have toe to thigh plaster cast on her legs, do you honestly think I would still have her?!!!” Hopefully not.
Maybe that was not an appropriate reaction. Hers was a very rude question, though. Obviously, her mum and dad did not teach her to say her “excuse mes”. This leads me to my point- teach your children simple manners when they are young, and they won’t grow up to be rude, selfish jerks. Maybe. It’s really not that hard.
Manners set the blueprint for treating other people with respect. “Please” does go a long way. Manners set the precedent for what is right and wrong, what is okay behavior and what is inappropriate. They should be expected from everybody. This I believe.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.