Do Your Kids Know The Importance of Manners?

This past weekend, both my step-son and step-daughter had friends stay over at our house for the night. I’ve always loved being the “kool-aid” house, where it’s always full of kids. I love hearing the giggles from the girls as they build tents on the catwalk overlooking our living room. And I love hearing the boys yelling at their video games as they try to keep from being eaten by zombies. A full house is perfect.

But one of the things that I’m always amazed by is the difference in manners between our two guests.

I was brought up by a strict military father, and “yes sir” and “yes ma’am” were always part of the vocabulary as much as “thank you” and “please”.

Is it just me or are kids not being taught good manners? When did “yeah” become acceptable? Am I being too old fashioned? I’m only in my 40’s!

I finished making dinner for our guests, prepared their plates and filled their glasses with lemonade. One guest said “Thank you” – the other just looked at me pouring his lemonade and started eating.

My husband said he could see my blood pressure rising.

After dinner, our kids know that they have to take their plates to the sink before heading upstairs to their rooms to play. Three of the kids did this. One did not. So my step-son told him to take his plate to the sink. Our guest looked at me like I had asked him to clean up dog doo off the floor.

I continually mortify my kids when we are in public and I hold the door open for someone and they don’t even acknowledge me. Before I can think, “OH, YOU’RE WELCOME” comes out of my smart aleck mouth. It’s rude! Do people just assume I’m the doorman?

Are manners becoming a thing of the past? Do parents just not teach their kids manners or is it that kids just don’t remember?

We have taught our children that people appreciate good manners.

My 13 year old step-son was late turning in a paper at his school. He is generally on time with all of his assignments so I suggested that he at least talk to his teacher. He came home from school later that day and said that the teacher told him that because he came in and politely asked if he could turn in the assignment late, she agreed…and he got an “A”.

My 18 year old son can also attest that being polite pays off. Last year after being the cause of a fender bender, Matthew called me to come to the site of the accident. At the time I arrived, the cop was writing him a ticket for following too close. He asked Matthew if he understood why he was getting the ticket, to which Matthew answered “Yes Sir.” Another question…Matthew answered “Yes Sir.”

The policeman looked at me and said “I’m going to tell you something. Because he has such good manners, I’m going to only write him a warning. It’s rare that I come across a young man such as yours.”

Matthew answered “Thank you, Sir.”

The cop smiled, lightly laughed, paused and said “You know what? Since no one was hurt, I’m not even going to write up a warning.”

And to that, I say “Thank you Officer”, and my insurance payment does too.

What do you think? Do you think it’s important to teach your children manners?

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10 thoughts on “Do Your Kids Know The Importance of Manners?

  1. I absolutely agree with you! My momma used to say that the only thing you owe every living thing is common courtesy and I live by that. Saying please, thank you and yes sir/no ma’am costs you nothing but yet means so much to others! Preach on sistah!

  2. I absolutely agree! I had similar experiences with smaller children and found my children feel uncomfortable that their friends weren’t polite towards me and my husband (and their siblings). Once my son said that he wouldn’t like one boy coming to our place anymore, because he didn’t behave properly. And my son was only 7. I presume that the parents of these children don’t use to say “thank you”, “please” etc. and don show respect. I’m not “teaching” manners to my children, I am their role model.

    • So true – we are their role models, and it’s sad that people just let their children feel entitled. Nope – that food on the table didn’t just magically appear! Someone had to make it, so a “thanks for dinner!” goes a long way!
      The boy that rides in our carpool says “Thanks for the ride!” EVERY SINGLE DAY! Of course I’m going to give him a ride, but it’s so nice to hear it.

  3. Dana – This is what I do!! I have been teaching manners classes for children and teens for a few years now, and love it. It is SO important in life. I DO think that manners start with Loving God first and then out of that love, comes a love for your neighbor. Good manners are always better when they come out of the overflow of a love for Christ.:) Your blogs crack me up! Thanks for sharing.

    • Thank you Elizabeth! I remember seeing on your FB page that you teach manners. I am sure you could write a book about your experience with teaching people the importance of being polite!! And it’s true – people have become so used to people NOT having manners, that it’s very noticeable when someone DOES.
      Thank you so much for reading (and liking!) my posts – I think I finally found my calling. It took a while, but I think writing is what I’m supposed to do!

  4. Dana, I live next door to your military parents : ), and am in complete agreement with you. My husband and I were both raised with good morals, values and MANNERS. We have passed that on to our son, who I constantly receive compliments on. He’s two and everyone tells me how well behaved and thoughtful he is. When we play at home, he tells me, “Mama sit on the pillow and play trains.” Then, he gets me a pillow! It’s really sweet, especially because I’m pregnant. The woman who displaced me from the parking space at Whole Foods yesterday could learn a thing or two from my child! Thank you for your stories. I enjoy reading them.

    • Thank you Jennifer! I look forward to meeting you and your family soon – I’ve heard so much about y’all from my parents! And I agree that you can’t start too early teaching children the importance of manners. If they learn it early, it will just be natural to them. (And congratulations on your upcoming addition!)

  5. Amen. My husband is from the Minnesota, I’m from Texas, and we’re raising children in Boston. It’s like a different universe here. But we still insist on attaching respectful titles to adult names (ie. Miss Ashley for babysitter, Mrs. Brown for friend’s mom) and refuse to fulfill a request that doesn’t have a “please” in it. “Yes please” and “no thank you” are also required. And our girls are 2 and 4.

    I didn’t grow up with wealth, but went to a private university with a lot of kids that did. I learned that the manners I was raised with helped me fit into any social context – whether with alumni donors, potential bosses, or just other kids raised like me. They definitely helped open doors for me. The same could not be said for my privileged classmates!

    • It’s good that you are teaching your children while they are young. It makes it easier to adapt. My step-children were 8 & 10 when I got remarried and it took a while for them to start saying “please” and “thank you” but they finally understand how important it is to be polite.

      It’s kind of sad, but people recognize manners because they so rarely see them nowdays. 😦

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