If I were to take a poll of parents that are over the age of 50, and ask them why they taught their kids manners, many of them would say because they wanted polite children. If you ask them why being polite was important, most would say that’s just how everyone was raised. Why was this how everyone was raised? Because America was a moral country for many years, whether you were Christian or not. Manners and morals ruled our society. The behaviors that we are seeing today has a lot to do with a shift away from Christian influenced general morals and manners.
You may be asking what do manners have to do with entitlement? Well manners are the first introduction into respect for others. Entitlement is respect for only yourself. So therefore manners are the opposite. When parents teach their children to display manners, it is not just the wording that we are seeking, it’s the thoughts and heart behind the words. The wording of manners makes you stop what you are doing and consider the people around you. Let’s take for instance burping. When one of my boys burps, it makes him feel better because he relieved the pressure. For those who hear him, it’s not a pleasant sound, unless you are his twin brother who happens to think it’s wildly funny. By saying excuse me, it reminds us that others may not appreciate what is comforting to ourselves and it acknowledges their feelings and desires. It doesn’t change what we do, but it does make us think about others. Thinking kindly towards others helps us take a step closer to respecting other people.
So while I’m insisting on my two-year old twin boys to say thank you, you’re welcome, I’m sorry and excuse me, I’ll be reminding myself why it’s so important to fight the manners battle. I’m raising my boys to be different from the world that says I deserve it and Your are not enough. It brings to mind that as followers of Christ, we are in the world but not of it. Knowing why you are doing something and the long-term outcome can make the hassle of today seem a bit more bearable. I’ll leave you with a great quote:
Most people want to be respected and yet have not learned to be respectful. Being held in a position of respect can feed an ego, but the humility and grace learned through being respectful feeds a soul.
May our children grow in stature, with God and man, with a humbleness that shines in this dark world.