Please And Thank You

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          Excuse me. Pardon me. Please and thank you. Are you teaching your kids these little nuggets of civility or are you waiting for them to spontaneously channel Miss Manners?

Lee says: We have three kids. We insist that our children treat everyone with respect. We insist that our kids say please and thank you. In our home it is not uncommon for our 4 year old to say ‘thank you’ to his brother for handing him a toy or us to say ‘thank you’ to our daughter when she puts away the dishes (a job that has been hers for years). My husband and I say please and ‘thank you’ to each other all the time. We are not by any stretch of the imagination a wholesome family but we are a courteous one.

By teaching our children manners, we are not encouraging them to be weak, bullied or preyed upon by predators. We are teaching them that they are not the only people on this planet and that everyone is entitled to basic courtesy. This entails them being deferent to authority as well. I am not saying that our children need to be subservient to authority or their elders but to defer to their ‘wisdom’ as long as it does not violate their boundaries.

That’s a lot of mumbo jumbo. Let me break it down. There are many parents who believe that teaching a child to respect is tantamount to dangling them on a string in front of hungry pedophiles. Many parents believe that being respectful or showing manners is a sign of weakness and that we are co-opting a child’s dignity to make an adult feel better.  Many parents encourage their children not to allow others to ‘disrespect them’ without explaining what that means exactly.

Respect has become this odd concept that is either seen as fear or power. Respect is neither. Respect means to honor someone. You can honor people for being wonderful and great. More importantly, we can honor someone for being a human being. We can treat others with respect because we are all deserving of that.

Teaching our children to respect is as important as teaching them how to read and write. Saying please and ‘thank you’ may not get you a scholarship but it will open doors. A person’s genuine respect is felt and the judgment made about them is based on those feelings. In other words, when you are truly nice to someone, they will remember you like that. This is what we teach our kids.

Our son, Bobby, is a ‘politician’. He is only in first grade and he walks the halls of his school as if he is running for office. ‘Hey Mr. Davis, how are you today?’ ‘Mrs. Kelsey, is that a new dress?’ While everyone else is, ‘Have a great day, Robert!’ (That’s what his constituents call him). Bobby has it down. He has figured out that you get more flies with honey than vinegar. He is given the benefit of the doubt all the time because he is always seen as the nice kid. Every day, I know that the teachers and staff of his school have his back because he has taken it upon himself to stand out as a nice kid. All because of a please here and a thanks there.

Is my son the badass? No. Will he get his ass kicked one day? Probably, but I know that he will be supported and ultimately, courtesy will always prevail against bullying and violence.

Paul says: Did you know that studies show that courteous children have better vocabularies? They speak and read better, which is a very important part of education and overall success. The reason why they are more verbal is because adults want to talk to the nice kid, not the little shits. Just sayin’.

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