The other evening we had a pivotal moment in our house. An issue that has been recently getting my attention in so many other people happened right on our hardwood floors by my own flesh and blood.
After her father made a simple request, my daughter threw her hands on her hips, her ponytail whipped around her face, she glared and spat out with thick sass, “No. Stop talking!”
When he began to respond, she pushed out her in hand in a stop motion and interrupted, “I said STOP.” She then stomped off.
This was a first for Audrey, and I’m praying a last, as well.
It was the cherry on top of an issue I’ve been challenged with for the last few months: what happened to manners?
We used to be a country – we used to be a people – that had manners; that had respect for each other; that spoke to each other kindly.
We are now the crudest of them all and it is getting increasingly worse as our children are being raised by such poor examples.
Don’t think I’m just pointing the finger at you.
When my daughter spat back at my husband, interrupting and rolling her eyes, she looked and sounded just like someone else – me.
I wasn’t upset with her. I was upset with myself.
Our children only learn from our example. We can tell them to say “please” and “thank you” time and time again yet it means nothing if we are not practicing what we preach.
Second president of the United States, John Adams, wrote a commentary on the subject of moral behavior, which he called “manners” and while it is dated, I believe strongly that he was on to something:
“From all that I had read of History of Government, of human life, and manners, I [have] drawn this conclusion, that the manners of women [are] the most infallible Barometer, to ascertain the degree of Morality and Virtue in a Nation.
The foundations of national Morality must be laid in private Families. The Mothers are the earliest and most important Instructors of youth.”
Mothers, our children are watching our every move.
I’m not just talking about when you chew with your mouth open, have poor posture or don’t put the napkin on your lap.
They are watching you when you argue with your spouse; they are listening when you talk poorly about someone to someone else; they see it as OK when you use foul language, answer your cell phone at dinner, slam doors, cut in front of someone in line, burp or dress with more skin showing than clothing.
Come on, ladies! Have our manners really gone so far down the drain that we are cat-fighting with other moms on Facebook Momlist over candlesticks and shoes?
While women have worked hard in history to gain respect, we are swinging to the other side of the continuum. Yes, have your opinion – but be tactful about it. Stand up for yourself – but do it with gentleness.
The saying, “The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world,” is true, so let’s encourage confidence, respect, grace and kindness instead of brash, rude, profane, loud and immodest.
Educational systems are actually encouraging “assertive training,” which is really just being aggressive.
And dad’s – you are not off the hook. I think I may have one of the only men left that insists on opening the door for me.
Where did chivalry go? Your sons are watching how you treat women and will treat them the same; your daughters are going to expect how to be treated by men by the example you are setting.
What happened? I’m not saying we need to jet back to the fifties (or maybe I am), but why I am really confused is that our culture is down everyone’s throat about being fair, giving trophies to winners and losers, not saying anything that may offend someone else – making sure we are politically correct – and yet in our day-to-day lives, in the small things like visiting the grocery store, driving down the road, at our children’s t-ball game or responding to someone’s status on Facebook, we slip so low to being such disrespectful, mean people.
We’re making big statements about how horrible political war is and yet we have no problem going to war with our own neighbor.
Are we too exhausted to care? Are we so tired that we roll our eyes at the cashier because the person in front of us is taking forever paying for their groceries? Are we in such a hurry that we display road rage while driving?
We can’t discipline our children for poor behavior when they are only displaying what they’ve learned and seen by example to be accepted.
Weeks ago my daughter started grunting when she was frustrated. She would stomp her foot and do a loud “Ugh!” I knew she had to have seen it somewhere.
After watching my husband closely, I was shocked to find that I grunt. That is a poor habit that I have. And much like foul language, you have no idea how much you participate in it until you start paying attention.
I told our daughter that it isn’t polite to grunt and doesn’t sound very ladylike. I then told her that I deal with the same problem and if she hears me do it, to make me aware of it.
Let’s stop saying, “I don’t care!” because we should.
“Obviously, human nature has not improved much in the past several hundred years, nor will it ever. What has changed…is that many parents have become far too distracted, overworked, and stressed out to care much about teaching morals and manners to children,” said licensed psychologist and child counselor, Dr. James Dobson.
Our world could be so much nicer and actually care for one another, but it starts with us right inside our home, right on our hardwood floors.
If you are interested in a free etiquette 101 class for mothers and daughters (all ladies, welcome), please e-mail Brittany at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“The hardest job kids face today is learning good manners without seeing any,” Fred Astaire.