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What Ever Happened to Manners?

Are Manners Just Becoming Another “Lost Art”?

On any given day, take a stroll in a busy public venue – such as a shopping mall or a sports venue – and grab a comfortable seat… one where you can just sit inconspicuously as you watch the world go by. You might be amazed at the lack of respect that the folks you observe show to one another. This can be observed in child-to-parent relationships, in sibling relationships, in relationships among adults… and, even in relationships with total strangers. It is absolutely amazing to watch just how much lack of respect exists among us as humans! Sometimes it appears that even very aggressive animals can cohabitate more peacefully!

I come from a generation where manners were taught to children at a very early age… and, were reinforced on a daily basis with those adults in our small world. Good manners were not only EXPECTED of children… they were, in fact, DEMANDED of children. Much of our ability to enjoy the “fun” parts of life – be it engaging in a special hobby or activity, enjoying a special treat to eat, or even earning the right to select what program we would get to watch on television – was driven by our ability to learn and demonstrate good manners. Parents would sometimes even enroll their young charges in classes where good manners were taught… and, justified. These manners transcended the space of our own little homes into the much larger world of church, shopping, dining out (which was a rare privilege indeed!), and co-mingling with others in the public arena. It was a world in which parents could be parents… and, well, children would be children. Our parents would tell us WHAT we could and could not do, and even WHEN we could and could not do it. These rules not only helped to structure our lives at an early age; but, they actually better helped to prepare us for the world into which we would eventually grow. Yes, there was once upon a time that manners played a significant part in our adapting better into our roles as adults!

I personally believe that the breakdown in our youths’ learning basic manners/social skills has played a major role in the breakdown of society in general. One needs only to read the headlines of most any newspaper, listen to the news on the radio, or tune into the nightly news to see how the lack of manners (aka “respect”) has taken a toll on the safety of mankind and, subsequently, the peace of our nation. Too many folks today consider their personal agenda to be more important than that of society at large. From way too early an age, they have made their actions “all about me” with no reins to pull them in. Could it be that some parents have become more focused on being their child’s “friend” than being their “parent”? Bigger question, could it be that the actions of some adults/parents mislead our children to believe that it’s okay to bully, degrade, belittle, or berate others? Is it safe to say that perhaps some of us as parents hesitate to put up any fences because they might stifle the freedom of that child to “find and become himself.” Rules somehow are viewed as stifling one’s creativity. It is no wonder that these young children grow into adults who think that they can do anything that they want to do… and – right or wrong – God help anyone who might get in their way!