First of all, I hope you and your family had a wonderful Easter yesterday! I am so thankful for a Savior to celebrate, and good friends and family to do it with! We had a great day!
Now, today, I’m talking about MANNERS. Do you have them? Do you teach them to your kids?
This topic has come up in several conversations for me lately — America’s general lack of manners today, teaching our kids to say “Yes Sir” and “No Thank You,” etc. etc. etc. To be honest, it isn’t something I’ve spent a whole lot of time thinking about as a mom…
My dad is the ultimate gentleman… He opens doors for my mom and pulls out her chair even after thirty years of marriage. And, much to my sister’s and my embarrassment, he even stands when a female leaves a room or gets up from a table. It’s weird really, but I do appreciate it. 🙂 *I also have heard him burp maybe twice in my life. No lie.
Kathryn and I were raised to be polite and respectful to adults. My mom taught us to take a hostess gift when we go to someone’s house. We always write thank you notes. We say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’, we put our napkins on our laps and don’t talk with food in our mouths, and we RSVP when we receive an invitation to an event (WHY does NO ONE do this anymore?!?!).
But, there are other things about the way I was raised, that are less formal… For example, we call our parents’ friends by their first names (always have), and I don’t have any memory of ever being formally taught/told to say things like “Yes Sir” or “No Ma’am”…
Strangely enough though, I sort-of just knew when to do those things… With my friends’ parents – for instance – I always called them Mr./Mrs. and said Sir/Ma’am. (Funny side note: Jeff’s mom is still in cell phone as “Mrs. Chapman” because I put it in there back when Jeff and I were newly dating in high school.)
All that leaves me thinking… How exactly do you teach manners? Is it necessary to strictly enforce certain manners (like Sir/Ma’am) OR is it something kids will naturally pick up on by observing you?
I definitely want Sam to have good manners/ be a gentleman. Absolutely. Already, Jeff and I stress the importance of saying “please” and “thank you.” We are working on not interrupting, and saying “pardon me” instead of “huh?” when he doesn’t understand. BUT, because I wasn’t necessarily raised with a strict emphasis on some of the more “minor” rules, it doesn’t come naturally for me to correct him when he says “Yes” instead of “Yes Sir.”
Likewise, I find myself encouraging him to call other adults (like our babysitter/neighbors/etc.) “Miss Jennifer” or “Mr. Marc” because that seems socially acceptable; but, truth be told, I think it is totally dorky. I genuinely want Sam’s friends to be comfortable calling us Elizabeth and Jeff, but I also want him to recognize when that isn’t appropriate (like when meeting an adult for the first time).
Am I making any sense at all?
I guess I’m just wanting to start the conversation about how exactly to teach manners, and which ones are worth teaching… Also, what age do you think kids should start really knowing and using manners?
What do you think? Especially those of you with older kids, how do you handle manners in your house? I’d love to hear what works (or doesn’t) for you!
P.S. Here’s a link to a 2011 article from Parents Magazine titled “25 Manners Every Kid Needs by Age 9.” It seems pretty reasonable. 🙂 (There are lots of free printables of this list circulating the blog world too. I might just add one to my piles!)
E, I don’t really have much to add to the manners conversation, but I did want to point out that you’re famous. I was reading Kendra and Catholic All Year yesterday and she featured you! Which I’m sure you’ve already seen, but I was so excited for you that I felt the need to point it out. http://www.catholicallyear.com/2014/04/answer-me-this-he-is-risen-he-is-risen.html
Yes! I saw it too! I love Kendra and her great blog! 🙂 (P.S. She is actually the cousin of one of my very best friends… So, I kind-of know her in real life. Haha!)
I don’t do the yes sir, no sir thing – maybe because I’m from NJ and sad to say but I feel No one has manners here 🙂 Reason #34823082 I’d like to fly the coop. Moving on though….We do make our kids say “Miss . So and so or Mr. So and so.” I think that comes from kids needing to respect their elders and anyone older than them is an elder. One of the things I love at their pre-school is that the children say Mrs. Last Name. No matter how difficult the last name, they say it. Its not Mrs. H just because her name is difficult to pronounce and I really appreciate that. I will also say that I do feel dorky too because only a hand full of my girlfriends have their kids say “Miss or Mr” but it doesn’t bother me. Probably not the last time I will feel dorky in my life and at least its for good reason.
Totally NOT dorky… I actually think teaching them to use last names is LESS dorky than Miss Elizabeth – you know? And, you’re absolutely right… There are plenty of opportunities to feel dorky in parenthood, this one is for a good cause! 🙂 You’re doing a great job!
Nikki Miller says
We are HUGE into manners with our two girls.
We started with please an thank you by teaching them the signs when they were 6 months… and I have to say that the caught on pretty quickly.
Our two and half year old is fairly good with please, thank you, and excuse me. Currently we are working on not interrupting an adult when they are talking to another adult and saying No thank you with less attitude.
Thank you notes (Handwritten a MUST) and RSVPing are big on my list.
Lead by example….
Yes! Lead by example… I also hadn’t even thought about “No Thank You,” what is wrong with me? We will add that to our list of regular lessons now. 🙂
Kate Patterson says
My parents were big on manners when I was growing up – everything from answering the phone with “Patterson residence, Kate speaking” to saying please and thank you were big in our house. After they reminded us over and over, it all became second nature. Also, this may be a midwestern thing, but I still don’t call some of my childhood friend’s parents by their first names, they are still Mr. & Mrs. so and so.
I’ve liked watching how etiquette and manners evolve as I’m in my 20s – most of my friends send thank you notes and bring hostess gifts, something I hope never goes out of style. 🙂
I still call most of my friends’ parents Mr. and Mrs. so and so too. 🙂 Even when they say it is fine to call them by their first name, it just feels too weird to me. I did, however, finally get over that with Jeff’s parents – especially when I started teaching and I was Mrs. Chapman myself. 😉
We really try hard to instill manners in our boys. Naaman was raised in a home where manners were expected and enforced. Lately our boys seem to be so demanding – as if I’m their maid not their mom! They are often disrespectful torwards us. I hate that. So I have been trying to correct their behavior now before it gets too bad. I think part of it is they are growing and learning to push boundaries. They are still learning what is appropriate and what is not. I don’t want them to feel uncomfortable in their home but I want them to be respectable for sure!
Ugh. I see the demanding thing ALREADY in my not even three year old… SO hard! I like what you said about finding the balance between being comfortable and being respectable… Right on!
I love this! The manners discussion is one that, all too often, isn’t approached until the classroom. I don’t think you can ever start teachings manners “too early.” We constantly teach by example, and I think having good manners as adults transcends to our children. We don’t force Luke to say Sir/Ma’am yet, but it is something I will reinforce once he is old enough to understand the meaning behind them. (I think it would be confusing right now to call my Dad “Papa” sometimes and “Sir” other times.) I also do the Mr./Mrs. First Name out of respect. Growing up I was always told to call an adult Mr./Mrs. And their last name, even if the adult said to call them their first name. I’m so grateful for my parents consistent influence when it comes to manners and hope I can do the same for my kids!
YES to leading by example!!! And, I totally agree that I’m grateful for the manners by parents instilled in me! I hope I can do as good a job!
Amanda @ Living on Grace says
aaah, manners are SO important. we teach david to say please, thank you, no thank you, etc. but he doesn’t say sir or ma’am.
david quickly learned to use manners AGAINST us. he thinks that if he says “please” he gets his way. and he corrects me (rudely) when i say no to him, “NO MOMMY! DON’T SAY NO! YOU SAY NO THANK YOU!”
the bigger challenge, i think, is teaching a child to be generous, grateful, respectful, instead of just repeating words. and how in the world do you do that!? 😉
Parents should always know as to how you could teachers manners to your kids. This would really mean a lot. Thanks for notching this one out.