Skip to comments.Bonnie Henry : Etiquette and table manners appear ready to skip this generation
Posted on 07/19/2009 7:17:12 AM PDT by SandRat
The command from his father was gruff, but not unduly so: "Stand up. Put your hand over your heart."
Quickly, the boy, I'd say about 7 or so, jumped up from the curb and did just that as several men, all no doubt older than his grandpa, marched by.
One played the bagpipes. Another carried the American flag, slowly fluttering in the midday mountain air.
All was quiet, save for the bagpipes, as the men strode by. Yet another Fourth of July parade in small-town America.
Every year, we go to Show Low for a few days on either end of the Fourth of July.
Here, patriotism is worn on a sleeve from the first pancake breakfast to the last cascade of fireworks showering down on the crowds gathered on the schoolyard grass.
It's a lifestyle that little boys and girls are quickly taught to salute.
Nothing wrong with that. Stand up straight. Take off your hat. Say please and thank you.
"Yes sir. No ma'am."
Do city kids still say that to grown-ups? Country kids do, at least some of them do.
They take their cue, of course, from the adults around them. If the father takes off his hat when he enters the diner, chances are his sons will, too.
If the mother says "thank you" when the waitress replenishes her iced tea, so will her daughters.
"Kids don't have any manners" is a common refrain heard these days.
Then again, who's teaching them? Nobody pops out of the womb knowing that soup shouldn't be slurped. Or that you need to stand when the American flag goes by.
Years ago, our parents made sure we knew how to behave at the dinner table, in church, with other kids' parents.
"Thank you, Mrs. Alvarez. I had a lovely time at Mary Lou's party."
Yes, of course, we rolled our eyes from time to time during all those troublesome instructions but only at our own peril.
"Don't you sass me, young lady."
"Don't give me any of your back talk, young man."
Do kids even know what "sass" and "back talk" mean anymore? Not unless their parents still use such "old-fashioned" terms.
No time. No one home at the same time for dinner. Those are the common excuses for a lack of manners these days.
No wonder college graduates have to take dining etiquette classes before scheduling that all-important lunchtime interview.
Who cares if you're summa cum laude if you can't keep your elbows off the table.
Kids these days also don't seem to know how to acknowledge a grown-up's presence. Most mornings I take a walk around the ol' neighborhood just about the time kids are shuffling off to the bus stop.
That is, the kids whose parents feel secure enough to allow them to advance a few hundred feet outside the confines of some SUV.
Thanks to "stranger danger," I know better than to address anyone younger than, say, 12. Eyes straight ahead, not even a nod.
But for the teenagers, I do attempt eye contact, followed by a cheery "good morning."
Most times I get it back, in muttering form. Seldom, however, do they ever look me in the eye.
C'mon, kids. If you're not confident enough to return a friendly greeting, how in the world are you going to handle that first job interview?
C'mon, parents. If you don't teach 'em fairly soon, they could be living with you elbows teetering on the table in perpetuity.
Bonnie Henry's column appears Sundays and Mondays. Reach her at 434-4074 or at firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to 3295 W. Ina Road, Suite 125, Tucson AZ 85741. Blog: go.azstarnet.com/bonniehenry
Pretty much an “evergreen” story about every generation. Thinking there used to be some Internet email dealie about such complaints in ancient Greece?
We are saddling the next generation with $100T in debt or some such, and we are whining that THEY lack etiquette? What was it Christ said about logs in eyes?
INTELLIEGENCE CONTINUES TO ALUDE DEMOCRATS!!!!
I’ve noted that children do not send thank you notes for gifts. My mother always made sure that I sent a thank you for any gift received. I taught my children to send thank you notes. My cousin’s children do not send thank you notes for gifts to their small children.
Doesn't the author understand that this unfortunate national phobia is one of the things that has led directly to the problem his article discusses?
Intelligence Continues to Elude Democrats
Shhhhhhh. They’re gonna pay for my retirement.
Collectively, we live cruder lives in bigger houses with more toys than did our ancestors.
By age, I am one of the Boomers. That’s where it ends. Because of the structure of my family I am mentally, emotionally and ethically a member of the Depression Generation. I thank God for my circumstances.
Generally, I have found kids in the South and West to be pretty good about etiquette. In fact, in Ms. Henry’s Tucson, the folks were so friendly, it took me aback.
Unlike one of the other FReepers, I believe the growing lack of parental control, etiquette and civility have cultivated the narcissism evident on Wall Street as well as affluent communities around the world. The self-esteem movement has accelerated it even more so. The Chinese, Poles and others are all seeing the same things we are, especially in urban areas.
Years ago, it seemed easier to get a group of kids together to sell Christmas wreaths or wash cars to raise money. Now, kids in the affluent suburbs of Chicago don’t want to waste their time doing things like that; they just convince their folks to write a check (although that luxury is finally starting to go by the wayside). These kids are certainly not going to waste their time with a ‘thank-you’ note.
My solution has been to stop sending gifts to those kids who do not send notes. Sometimes, the kids and their families get the message, sometimes they don’t. I’m at the age where I couldn’t care less.
It seems many people believe manners (and even ethics) is a sort of “prisoners dilemma” - It only is a benefit if every acts with manners. Otherwise, I, with my polite behavior, will suffer some loss in the face of another’s impolite/selfish behavior.
Actually, what should be taught is that the opposite is true - correct manners/politeness are a benefit for oneself all the time, regardless of another’s (or society’s) behavior.
My Daughter Teaches 5th Grade in PHX. She hass the class conduct themselves according to a credo of 11 words that she explains to the class at the start of of the year;
and they line the walls.
If they sound familar they should as they are the first 11 Laws of the Scout Law.
Funny thing is even as a fisrt year teacher she has been praised for awell behaved class. And yes, her students know the Scout Sign and that when the Sign is Up that it means everyone is to be quiet; and they do it.
So there is hope.
It is not just skipping a generation.
Once gone these things will not come back — for a long long time.
Read Reply #12
I think that how we respect our national symbol as appropriate says a lot about us as a people and a nation.