Minding One’s Manners

man·ner  (m n r)
n.
1. A way of doing something or the way in which a thing is done or happens.
2. A way of acting; bearing or behavior.
3. manners
    a. The socially correct way of acting; etiquette.
b. The prevailing customs, social conduct, and norms of a specific society, period, or group, especially as the subject of a literary work.

The above meaning is from the Free Dictionary which is available on the net. Unfortunately in today’s day and age, a dictionary is likely to be the only place where you will find manners.

minding-ones-manners

And there’s no point in blaming the young children of today, manners are absent in adults too. How often do we find ourselves elbowed in crowds at places like the airport or at the mall where supposedly only people who can afford to travel/shop will find themselves in? Or take queues at hospitals, checkout counters in fancy shops and malls, ticket lines, buffet tables, traffic lights etc. etc where have line will break is the norm not the exception.

Sadly, manners have not only taken a flying leap but they seem to be absolutely dead and buried four feet within the ground. Today when you pass any young child of passing acquaintance don’t expect a nod of recognition or even a Namaste Uncle/Aunty or Good Morning in greeting. Expect instead a sullen stare with the unspoken question “do I know you?”

If you are struggling with a heavy bag forget anyone offering to help with carrying it. And don’t expect any young man or woman to allow an older or disabled person to go ahead or have the door opened allowing them to pass. And as for assistance in crossing the road, filling up forms or even reading a notice which is hard to read… forget it.

I remember many years ago when I was dropping of my girls to school, I saw their teacher struggling with a pile of books. “Aren’t you going to help her?” I asked instinctively and was shocked when they replied “Ma, our friends will think we are sucking up!” I was simply horrified. Was that how my children behaved with their peers?

Once I’d made some chicken sandwiches for my daughter and her friend who were coming home to tea. “Oh Auntie!” she said taking one look at the plate “I hate Mayo!” and refused to have even a bite. I remember being brought up on having just the one to keep Miss Manners happy. Just as this young girl rudely turned her nose up at what was being offered, another girl ate up all of the jalebis that were served at a tea completely unmindful of the other guests who were to follow.

Holding doors open for ladies, offering a lady a chair and standing up when a lady enters the room are customs simply unheard of in this generation. Picking up a girl from her house, meeting her parents before going on a date, dropping her off and seeing her home are customs that fell by the way, I think with female emancipation. Thanks to equality, women are expected to pull their weight all the way through right down to splitting the tip half way while going on a date!

With a complete disregard to rules of dressing, you find guests being turned away because they are wearing flip flops or shorts at formal dos, forcing many corporates to send off their new recruits to etiquette classes.

Good manners have been given the short shrift with parents/care givers having to spend so much of their time in looking after children while managing their own lives. But surely there’s always time to inculcate good manners in a child so that he knows not to call between 8 pm and 9 in the morning, calling before dropping in on people, visiting a sick person and writing a letter of condolence?

Apart from the skill sets that we impart to our children in terms of education, hobbies and knowledge we should remember this very important aspect of a good upbringing, the values of grace, dignity and courtesy and minding one’s manners.

As a mother of two thirty-year old daughters and a grandmother of a nineteen week old grandson, Sunita Rajwade has been there and done that. A hands on mom, she has seen two girls grow successfully through baby hood, toddler hood, adolescence and adult hood; solving their maths problems and contributing to their angst of growing up with a mom “who doesn’t understand”. But now as a grandmother, she’s being appreciated for her “wisdom” and “understanding” and would like to share my experiences of this wonderful journey from motherhood to grandmotherhood

  • ParentEdge

    Hello Sunita
    I understand what you are saying and why you would be shocked at the lack of manners in the youth today. I actually worked on a cover story for my magazine on ‘Raising Well-Mannered Children’ and when I started out, I too was of the same opinion – that children nowadays lack courtesy. But at the end of the article, my thinking underwent a complete change.
    I think what we need to recognise (and I mean all of us adults brought up in a certain traditional ‘mannerful’ way) is that manners have not disappeared so much as changed. Children of today are different from how we were – when they express their opinions boldly (I hate Mayo) or speak argumentatively, they don’t mean to be disrespectful, rather they have been brought up in an open manner and encouraged to question and express their opinions without fear, and this is what they are doing. Let’s be clear – we were bullied into being good-mannered and we don’t use that approach with our children anymore.
    Of course, it is important that all their interactions be respectful and courteous, but I think kids nowadays have a lot of plus points that we didn’t – they are more tolerant of differences and friendlier as well, with less slandering, and they just allow people to be – this itself demonnstrates more respect of one another.
    I don’t know if you will agree with me, but the point that I am trying to make is that perhaps we adults need to adjust our perceptions a little and recognise that what we think of as good manners may have changed for the next generation.
    Kritika Srinivasan

    • Sunita Rajwade

      Thank you for pointing out that perceptions have changed and children who are “mannerless” are not indeed rude or impolite but just more “honest”. While I do accept that things change aren’t there some things that haven’t? I am sure we were considered equally rude by our grandparents because as you pointed out manners do change from generation to generation.

  • Shilpa Salwan

    Hi, I believe that is not the case with everyone. However yes many people being in nuclear families do tend to miss on teaching their children the basic values of greeting elders. I would suggest everyone( adults) to sit with their children and advise about these manners in a playful manner because being harsh is just not the way we can do things now. You can also download this app called Parentlane. goo.gl/987oND . They give super amazing advices & tips on parenting and baby growth!