Twenty-first Century Manners


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Recently, my wife, Tee, and I were walking out of a restaurant when a young boy about 12 years old held the door open for us. We were pleasantly surprised, to say the least. Unfortunately, this show of manners from a young person in today’s society is becoming more and more rare.

“There is no excuse for rudeness, and no substitute for courtesy.” That is something I heard a long time ago that stuck with me. Would you agree that maybe today’s young person has lost—or better yet not been taught—manners? It’s simple things like holding a door for your mom and strangers or saying “yes sir” and “no sir,” “please” and “thank you.” It’s those simple yet important things we as parents have been too busy or too blind to teach our children.

Many of you reading this article are thinking that I’ve lost my mind, and I’m rambling on about something lost in our culture that isn’t important anymore. But stop and think for a minute. Imagine your son or daughter is one of 10 young people up for a prestigious scholarship or applying for a great job. Your child and the other candidates are pretty equal in their credentials and qualifications. The individuals making the decision do not care about anything but picking the best. Perhaps manners and courteously addressing the interviewers would be the deciding factor. Maybe something as simple as holding open a door could swing the decision in your child’s favor.

Have you and I done our part to pack their bag with all the tools they will need as they walk into the interview? Will they stand out from the rest of the crowd?

Just remember that these and many other qualities, both positive and negative, are caught as well as taught. For example, on countless occasions I have seen every one of our grandsons hold the door open for their moms. Is that something that just comes naturally to them? No, it’s because these types of things are also important to our son and son-in-law. They know that their dad opens the door for their mom, so it is a learned behavior that they picked up from watching and imitating.

For more than 42 years, we have taught our girls at Big Oak Ranch that when your date opens the door for you to get into his car or enter a restaurant, it is obvious someone taught him good manners. With this in mind, your daughter can have a really good barometer to gauge how she might expect to be treated should the relationship proceed to a deeper level.

What can you and I as parents do to teach courtesy and manners to our children? It is really very simple. Just decide what qualities you and your wife or husband want to teach, and then go out and show them. One hint: Be consistent in your actions. Otherwise, it won’t have the impact that you desire.

Your example will always outlive your advice. Think about it.

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