We parents get a bad wrap.
Just like our parents did before us and our grandparents before that.
Our kids are too loud, too scruffy, too lazy and too rude.
The latest denunciation of our kids I read just the other day claimed that our children were doomed, that they were a bunch of rude, self centered little cads that had never been taught to say please and thank you in their lives.
The author begged parents to teach their kids some manners.
It could have been written by my mother or aunt, it could have been written by the 50-year-old school teacher down the road, it could have been written by my 90-year-old grandmother (should she be alive) because the fact is we’ve heard it all before haven’t we?
It’s the same complaint generation after generation.
But it wasn’t just the author who felt the outrage, thousands of readers shared the post agreeing that kids THESE DAYS aren’t quite like in OUR DAY.
Where have the manners gone?
Well maybe I am extraordinary lucky, maybe the circles I frequent are just extraordinary old fashioned, maybe the parents I know are just extraordinarily brought up themselves but I don't think manners have gone anywhere. I think us adults just like to complain.
Everywhere I turn all I see is kids trying to remember their manners and parents trying their damn hardest to teach them.
I don’t know where these rude children are, where the ones whose parents couldn’t give a fig whether or not they say thank you are.
I don’t know where the ones who grab and snatch are, the ones who snort at the table and push into the lift are.
Of course not all kids are perfect, and it takes a great deal of time to teach children manners, a great deal of reminding and encouraging but every single parent I know is doing just that - their very best.
When I first had kids I never realised that part of ‘parenting’ was similar to a verbal ground hog day.
Day to day you find yourself saying the same things over and over and over and over again.
Put your shoes on. Be nice to your sister. What’s the magic word?
What do you say to the man? Did I hear any thank yous? I hope you have your manners packed.
Over and over drilling in the same things, the same lessons, the verbal nagging. Be nice, be polite, be respectful.
Say please and thank you. Look grown ups in the eyes.
And I’m not alone.
Everyone I know is doing the same thing.
Fellow school parents, neighbours, mums from daycare. Strangers in shops, nannies at playgroups, fathers at soccer.
Thank your coach Oscar, say please Charlie. Make sure you say excuse me Henry.
These parents are trying. I’m trying. I imagine you are as well.
Of course there are times my kids forget to say thank you and need a reminder, there are times they jump in and start talking while I am on the phone or talking to another school mum, there are times they are rude but they are kids.
What has changed perhaps is the values we place on certain manners, old fashioned manners that now have had their used by date.
A study by McCrindle Research found that in contrast to the theory “children should be seen and not heard” that our grandparents may have taught, modern parents - with their views on stranger danger and fears of abuse - teach their children to be more assertive.
To listen and obey adults, but to only listen and obey those they know.
The research says, “Manners have made a comeback, although the way parents teach them is new in some ways. Gen X parents prefer a less punitive approach in raising their children. Children are not taught good manners out of a sense of obedience to parents, but out of a sense of mutual respect and empathy for others. Gen X parents want children who can be assertive of their needs but also respectful. We found that two in three parents say they “always” correct their children if they fail to say “please”, “thank you” or “excuse me.”
I think that what is actually bad mannered is to cast out a blanket statement that all children are rude and that all parents are incompetent and aren't teaching manners.
Parents are doing the best they can. To think otherwise is just ill mannered.