Manners matter - MetroFamily Magazine
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Manners matter

by Mari Farthing

Reading Time: 2 minutes 

We took the kids for pizza on Friday. It was hot, we took the long way, there was a construction detour, so when we finally pulled into the parking lot, we were all a bit worse for the wear.

When we were seated in our booth, my son, the sweet 9 ½ year old baby boy, tried his hand at surly tween. He didn’t want to sit. He didn’t want to be spoken to. He refused to answer questions. He basically rebuffed every attempt to engage him.

Now, I understand that kids at this age go through a lot, emotionally and mentally, and that there will be times when those conflicting emotions and feelings spill over and affect those around them. And a lack of respect for others is just something I cannot tolerate.

I’ve seen an erosion of manners in public places, and it disheartens me. Such a large percentage of life is spent in the presence of others, strangers with whom we are forced to share our time and space with. If we don’t respect everyone else’s place in this world, how can we coexist?

As parents, I think it’s imperative that we teach our children to be kind to others and that rudeness is never okay. I’ve commented on this before and hate when I meet people or see situations where I’m shaking my head at other people’s kids.

From the people who exploded when asked to share an unused chair, to the woman who told the man that he shouldn’t “get his panties in a wad” when he asked a question, to the driver who cut across two lanes of traffic in front of several cars even though there was ample room behind those cars, some people seem unaware of how their behavior impacts others. They see only their path, with no respect for others.

I don’t want my kids to be one of those people one day. So I had a chat with my son, explained that while I understand he’s going through a lot and he will be going through a lot of changes as he gets older, it’s not okay to be rude. He can ask us questions, discuss things he doesn’t understand, and we’ll be here for him; but if he’s rude he will be disciplined accordingly.

He laughed a little and blushed when I explained, in very broad strokes, the physical changes that the next few years will bring. He looked incredulous when I told him that there would come a time when he doesn’t want to spend time with his family anymore. And he looked relieved when I told him that we were going to expect him to spend time with his family anyway.

As he gets older I know he will continue to push, to test the boundaries of his behavior. And I will continue to push back, hoping that my efforts won’t be for nothing and that in the end, the struggle will help him to be ready to face the world.

Hopefully, with a healthy respect for others.

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