Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Manners, part 2.

Ok. Surely you knew I was going to revisit this topic. And let me be frank. If you read further than this paragraph, you are releasing me from being responsible for ticking you off, grating on your nerves, or making you want to punch me.

Here's the thing, young parents... (And by young, I mean those of us born in the 70s, 80s, and 90s.) We have TOTALLY over complicated our lives. Think about it. There are books for everything from how to get your child to stop eating pencil erasers to how to boost your child's IQ while they are still in the womb. We know how to do brilliant things like "reason" with a strong willed child, "rationalize" with a sensitive child, and "fortify" a child whose self-esteem is less than par. We can make our own baby food, grow our own pesticide-free tomatoes, and find 10,239 ways to reuse a Target bag in order to save the earth.

But Lord help us... our generation cannot get our children to look at someone in the eye when they talking to them to save our lives.

To borrow a phrase from Abi- "I'm quit of it."

Part of our problem is that we are so stinkin' defensive about our children. We rush to their aid, choose their side in every conflict, and teach them to generate excuses for their poor behavior choices. And Jesus take the wheel if someone other than an immediate family member disciplines our precious angel! Listen. If Abi needs correction, for goodness sake, CORRECT HER! I can't be everywhere all the time, and I can't see everything from every angle. Ever heard that it takes a village to raise a child? I actually know several parents who have gotten FURIOUSLY angry when they have left their child with adult sitters/friends/relatives who had to discipline the child for whatever reason. Oh, by all means... let's set them up to believe that they only need to obey their parents. This will come in handy when they are in school, looking at speed limit signs, or working with a new boss one day.

I especially welcome someone else correcting Abi in my presence. *GASP* And why, you might ask? I want her to see that while her dad and I are the main authorities in her life, we are not the only authorities. I want her to see that we welcome the guidance of others, and we respect their input. Of course, the mom at the park that yells at your kid for cutting in line is not what I'm talking about. This is why it's important to have quality people we trust in our lives. You get the picture.

Parents, these are our CHILDREN. They aren't rabid Rottweilers. (Sometimes it feels like they are, but trust me...) They are scared, lost, confused little creatures with cute faces, messy hair, and dirty fingernails, and they need and want our boundaries. They will rise or fall to our levels of expectation.

So, by all means, skip the manners concepts and focus on growing organic papaya. But let me fast forward a few years and give you a taste of what you'll have to enjoy.

A young lady who rolls her eyes at her teachers. She will always be tardy, and it will ALWAYS be someone else's fault. She will cuss you behind your back, and will cuss strangers to their faces. She won't know how to engage in meaningful conversation with anyone, won't care about other people's needs, and will talk to you like you're an idiot. She won't care about her elders at all, and will think the world rises and falls on her command.

Or, you may have a young man who won't work and has to borrow money from you to take his girlfriend on a date. He'll be the kid who pulls up at her house and honks the horn. On the date, he won't open the door for his girlfriend, and will only buy her meal and not her movie. Oh, and the old lady trying to open the store door and get her cart out to her car in the pouring rain? He'll walk right by her.

Manners are a forgotten virtue in our generation. We allow kids to talk however they want, respond however they want, and treat others however they want. Not in my house. I firmly believe that by drilling manners so hard, I am setting up Abi to have GREAT favor through her whole life with people. Have you seen the look on a server's face when your child says, "Thank you for bringing our food to us?" I have. They are speechless every time. (and let me tell you, I've never asked her to do that... she "caught" that concept.) See, Rod and I want Abi to actually think of the PEOPLE behind the food we eat. The PEOPLE behind the counter at the toy store who actually stock the shelves so she can spend her allowance. You may say, "But they are getting paid to do their jobs..." True. But the payment they receive from a grateful child means more to them most days than the money in their pocket. Someone respected them. Someone who is less than 4 feet tall.

Don't get me wrong. It's a constant effort, teaching manners. And Abi can have six weeks of impeccable manners and then be as rude as a little warthog when she wants to be. That's why it's called parentING. As in action. As in long-going and consistent.

On an ending note, ever watched Andy Griffith? How about Hannah Montana? Ever compared how Opie and Hannah talk to adults?

Old School rocks. ;-)


  1. Paul wanted me to thank you for the Andy reference! Been raising our little one on it since she was in the womb :) Great blog, Jill!

  2. Andrea, Abi too! I love me some Andy!!!! And sometimes, I hear Abi walking around the house, whistling the theme song. Makes me smile everytime. xoxo

  3. LOVE THIS!! I couldn't agree more! Keep preaching it!

  4. Thanks, Charlene! And welcome to my little corner of the world! :-)

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