You’re Not Welcome: Are We Raising Mannerless Kids?
posted by: Catherine
I’m about to acknowledge something that a lot of parents are thinking, but few will actually say out loud. But I believe the first step in solving a problem is admitting that you have one and, America…we have a real problem. So, here goes.
Our children are incredibly rude.
Not all of them, of course. But it seems that the older I get, the less tolerant I am of children who don’t seem to understand that there are things that you just don’t do.
And I’m even less tolerant of the parents who seem to think that giving their children lessons in basic manners is just a waste of their time.
What’s the deal, people? Are we too plugged in to even care how we come across to the surrounding public and that’s rubbing off on our kids? So wrapped up in getting our children to fifteen different activities a week that we can’t take the time to teach our kids how to say “thank you” and act in a respectful way? Too caught up in ourselves to teach our kids basic life lessons so they don’t end up embarrassing themselves as adults?
Whatever the excuse…it just doesn’t cut it with me anymore.
Now, I’ve put up with this stuff for a while – this lack of manners that seems to be the norm. With my oldest, I slapped a smile on my face and tried to steer the offending child gently in the right direction when they were visiting my home.
“Please ask before you go in the pantry and get something to eat.”
“I would appreciate you knocking on the front door and not just letting yourself in.”
“Sure, we would love to have you over again sometime and I’m sure my daughter would like to come over and play with your toys someday as well.”
As my middle child, my son, began having more and more playdates, my patience started waning. And, unfortunately for my youngest, by now I’ve completely had it, so I don’t put up with any impolite behavior at all – either from the child or from the parent. It’s pretty much all I can do to stop myself from saying,
“Get out of my pantry.”
“Get out of my house.”
“Get out because this is the tenth time your mother has invited you over here without any sort of reciprocation.”
I’ve been wondering if I’m too sensitive or if it’s hormonal or something. After all, I did just take a parenting quiz on Facebook that determined my style of parenting is “Drill Sargent.” But every once in a while, just to get a reality check, I will ask one of my kids something like, “Do you ever just walk into someone’s house with knocking?”
And then I’ll get a somewhat shocked look when they answer, “No.”
A while back I had to go out of town on business. My parents, who usually watch my kids when I go, weren’t available so I had to ask my neighbor if she would do me the huge favor of taking on three children for three nights, something I would have never asked if it hadn’t been an emergency. And before I left, my kids got this lecture several times:
“There is an art to being a good guest,” I said. “You pick up after yourself, you keep your room neat, you keep the bathroom neat, you say thank you, and you offer to help your host around the house. I want to hear, when I get back, what a pleasure you were to be around.”
And guess what? I did.
I’ll be honest. As much as we run our kids around to so many activities to try and make sure they are “well-rounded”…we’ve gotten pretty lazy in the art of basic parenting skills. We’re on the go so much that we don’t sit down to dinner the majority of the time and, therefore, our children have no idea how to behave at the table. Teaching our kids to say “yes ma’am” or “no sir” when asked a question by an adult makes us look like – guess what? – drill sergeants. And forcing our kids to unplug for a while so that we can show them how to act in public is a fight we just don’t have the energy for.
I get it. I mean, it’s much easier for me to plug my kids into Minecraft than it is to fight with them about basic table manners or how to generally behave in public. The problem is that I don’t think most parents realize what a disservice it is to our children to send them out into the world without these basic lessons in respect and courtesy. Because I do believe that a lot of doors will be closed to them if they enter adulthood not knowing how to just be polite.
My outlook has forced us to whittle down our list of friends because dealing with mannerless kids and the rude adults who have raised them is something I just don’t have the patience for anymore. In fact, just the other day, I received a text message from another parent whose child I’ve hosted several times and has never reciprocated.
How about if I send all of my kids over to your house this weekend? :>)
The smiley face didn’t help my irritation. I somewhat gasped when I read it and that caused my 10-year-old son to ask what it was. I passed him my phone and he read the message.
“Geez,” he said. “Even I know you’re not supposed to do that.”
Catherine Tidd is the author of “CONFESSIONS OF A MEDIOCRE WIDOW” and the owner of www.theWiddahood.com. She is a mother who always tries to find humor in distressing situations and continues to write so that she can keep telling her kids that she’s busy and they need to get their own snacks. Find her on Facebook and Twitter.