Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Mind Your Manners

So we always taught our kids to be kind, patient, considerate of others. But not everyone does that.
And this great NYTimes piece by pediatrician, Perri Klass, M.D. sorts it out in a great way.
As a doctor, Klass views social skills right up there with the three R's. Reading, (w)riting, rethmetic.
Rude is not good.
Parents, your job is to help prepare a being for their future. In social skills along with everything else. Or they can't function in society.
The good doctor says:

"One of the long-term consequences of being a rude child is being a rude adult — even a rude doctor. There are bullies on the playground and bullies in the workplace; it can be quite disconcerting to encounter a mature adult with 20 or so years of education under his belt who still sees the world only in terms of his own wants, needs and emotions: I want that so give it to me; I am angry so I need to hit; I am wounded so I must howl."

Not OK.
It really seems to be a disservice to allow bad behavior.
Who to guide us?
As a model, the Miss Manners serves.

"I like Miss Manners’ approach because it lets a parent respect a child’s intellectual and emotional privacy: I’m not telling you to like your teacher; I’m telling you to treat her with courtesy. I’m not telling you that you can’t hate Tommy; I’m telling you that you can’t hit Tommy. Your feelings are your own private business; your behavior is public."

Not always easy. The little people have a way with getting their way. But that's how we, as a community work. With each other. Manners.

"But that first big counterintuitive lesson — that there are other people out there whose feelings must be considered — affects a child’s most basic moral development. For a child, as for an adult, manners represent a strategy for getting along in life, but also a successful intellectual engagement with the business of being human."
Good business that human stuff.

1 comment:

Melanie Mulhall said...

Lulu Mom,

Thank you for this post! I have been exposed to wonderfully mannered children (who did not, by the way, get there with a whip and chains)and I have been exposed to children who seem to think it's all about them--way past the age that I could explain that in developmental terms.

I have never had children of my own. I can imagine the skills and patience it takes to be a parent, but I have not had to employ them on a daily basis in my own home. I stand in awe of parents.

I personally know parents who give me hope about the fate of the world when I'm gone. I also personally know parents whose elementary school aged children (and pre-school children) walk all over them. The difference begins with manners, I think.

Having seen adults who hold their forks like infants (gripped in their fists), I am inclined to believe that just as fork holding behavior goes, so goes manners as a whole. So I am in agreement with you that ill mannered children become ill mannered adults.

Thanks for your sensible, practical, and well mannered approach.

Melanie Mulhall