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Where did Good Manners Go?

Zip it Does it seem (in light of recent events) that good manners and civility have gone out the window?  Want some easy lessons at how to get them back?  Just follow the lead of the 5 and under set. “It’s easy,” exclaims my daughter.  “You just zip it, lock it, put it in your pocket.” She runs a finger across her lips zipping them up, turns an imaginary key to lock up her closed mouth and then slips that key in her pretend pocket.  Done.  How simple was that!

How nice it would have been if Congressman Wilson could have remembered to zip it and lock it.  Ditto Kayne West.  I’ll even add Serena Williams’ tirade to the list, although some seem to feel the rules are different for sports figures (not this Zen Mama Wannabe, however).  How nice it would be to think that good manners were commonplace in our country.  That the things you learned when you were 5 would stick with you. Don’t talk when someone else is talking.  Especially when it is not your turn.  Be polite.  Treat other people the way YOU want to be treated.

Are people just conveniently forgetting the basic rules of civility that they learned when they were young?  Or, did they never get educated on those things?  Did their parents and teachers and coaches fail them by not teaching them how to act – not just in school or on the field, but in LIFE?  Because otherwise, how in the world would these types of behaviors be thought of as “okay?”

And what does it say about the rest of us, the train-wreak loving society that we’ve become, when You Tube clips of these “transgressions” are the videos most viewed (by far) that week?  When a Congressman can raise over $2 million dollars in less than 6 days in support of his actions.  When an out-of-line performer becomes the most sought-after guest on the late night interview circuit.  When magazines and tabloids can’t wait to plaster their pictures all over.  What is the feedback we’re sending?  Not just to them – but to everyone else??

Are good manners for the most part an old-fashioned custom, becoming more and more obsolete?  How do we return to a place where this type of behavior is viewed as it should be – deviant and unacceptable?  Perhaps we need to look back on what we (most of us anyway) are teaching our preschoolers and little ones.  Maybe Robert Fulghum was right.  Maybe all we ever needed to know we learned in Kindergarten.

If you haven’t been to one in a while, you should see about sitting in and observing a Kindergarten class for a day.  Children are expected not to talk when the teacher is talking.  They are (learning) to raise their hands when they want to add to the discussion and wait to be called on.  They are expected to take turns.  To speak nicely to each other.  They are taught there is a time to speak, and a time to listen (wow – imagine if adults just remembered that one thing)!

We teach this to our kids and expect them to follow these basic rules of conduct.  Why shouldn’t we expect (no, demand) the same of the adults in our country too??


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4 Responses to “Where did Good Manners Go?”

  1. LarkLady Says:
    September 17th, 2009 at 7:29 pm

    Yeah, it’s past time for everyone to go back and read Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. All the basics are there… and somehow those values have been severely eroded.

  2. callieandbatido Says:
    September 28th, 2009 at 5:29 pm

    Such an interesting topic…Just tonight I was sitting at the table with my two daughters, one giving the other an “Americal Girl Manners Quiz.” While I consider us all to be polite and well mannered, I know my grandmother would be shocked at how much my manners have “slipped,” Elbows on the table..guilty. Talking with our mouths full…guilty. Interupting…guilty. Let’s not even get into setting the table correctly.

    But tonight I realized how thankful I am that I at least KNOW the correct and polite way to do things, even if I fall short in always passing them onto my kids. I could have so passed the American Girl quiz with flying colors. Time for me to dust off my “manners” and start setting a better roll model for my girls.

  3. Zen Mama Wannabe Says:
    September 29th, 2009 at 11:28 am

    Just saw an American Girl Manners book at the bookstore – and was wondering if it might be a good book to have. Think I’ll now put it on my list. You can never get too much of this stuff – in fact, it’s quite obvious many of us could use even more! I bet you make your Grandmother proud! (There are quite a few who immediately come to mind that I doubt could say the same).

  4. Danielle Says:
    October 19th, 2010 at 12:09 pm

    I would have to say manners only go out the door if parents aren’t teaching them. Through my travels and what not I have met a ton of adults that lack proper manners so I can only assume that any of their offspring will be the same. Everything starts at home.

    My three year old has impecable manners why because I stay on him. He has to say bless you, excuse me, sit at the table like a big boy (started that when he was just a baby), and if I call him he has to say yes mommy. Is he perfect all of the time no he is only three but I take the time to correct the behavior when it happens and a lot of people have become lazy and they just let it slide.

    I am a single mom and it is very important to me that my child is well groomed and respectful because single moms get alot of slack for raising delinquints, I can tell you I am going to do everything I have to to ensure that it doesn’t happen on my watch. Well thats my 2 cents on it.

    On a lighter note I am a Santa Rosa, CA mom and I love your site. Just wanted to pop over and invite any of the ladies to check out the Wee Three Fall Event at the Wells Fargo Center for the Arts Oct. 23 (There is more information on my blog!)

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