And then my sister-in-law sent me this article, republished from this month's issue of Parents magazine, called 25 Manners Every Kid Should Know By Age 9. Brace yourselves. I have picked out some of the "manners" that were confusing or otherwise bothered me. And here they are, with my responses:
Manner #3 Do not interrupt grown-ups who are speaking with each other unless there is an emergency. They will notice you and respond when they are finished talking.
What makes an emergency? How does a child know when grown-ups are "finished" talking? Will it be like listening for microwave popcorn to be done, 1-2 seconds between responses? And why don't children deserve this same courtesy? Adults have no problem interrupting children.Manner #5 When you have any doubt about doing something, ask permission first. It can save you from many hours of grief later.
I guess this might be good advice for the child whose parents gives him "hours of grief" about things he has done without permission. I wouldn't really call this one a manner though. Also, remember, it is usually easier to ask forgiveness than permission. Hours of grief may be a price worth paying if it means the child has already gotten to do what he wants.Manner #6 The world is not interested in what you dislike. Keep negative opinions to yourself, or between you and your friends, and out of earshot of adults.
This is a joke, right? Never complain to adults? How about this one: don't talk to anyone who isn't interested enough in you to care about your dislikes. If anything, adults should take their own advice here, and stop complaining about kids so much.Manner #7 Do not comment on other people's physical characteristics unless, of course, it's to compliment them, which is always welcome.
Wow, great rule. So as long as it's a compliment, it's ok? Is it always welcome to tell a woman she has nice breasts? And I can't even count the number of times I have heard adults openly insult a child's physical appearance, laughing at the way the his hair looks, or how his ears or his belly stick out, or anything else. Adults, please check yourselves on this one first.Manner #13 Never use foul language in front of adults. Grown-ups already know all those words, and they find them boring and unpleasant.
Another joke, I'm assuming. If grown-ups find these words so boring and unpleasant, then why do they say them so much? Hey grown-ups, maybe don't use foul language in front of kids if you don't like it??Manner #14 Don't call people mean names.
Manner #15 Do not make fun of anyone for any reason. Teasing shows others you are weak, and ganging up on someone else is cruel.
Of course I don't want my kids to be cruel to other people, but I think kindness starts with parents. Kids are people too. Don't call your kids mean names like brat, pain in the butt, or bottomless pit (all of which I have heard parents call their kids in the past few months).Manner #16 Even if a play or an assembly is boring, sit through it quietly and pretend that you are interested. The performers and presenters are doing their best.
Pretend you are interested? I'm all for not being rude and interrupting during a play or assembly. But maybe let's give our kids more choices about which ones to attend. They shouldn't be forced to sit through so many things that bore them.Manner #21 When an adult asks you for a favor, do it without grumbling and with a smile.
Unless, presumably, it's a sexual favor the adult is asking for... Or some other kind of illegal thing. Or it's something the child is physically incapable of doing... I will never teach my children they should always do what an adult asks of them. Just like adults, children should always feel free to say no, whenever they feel uncomfortable or unwilling to do something. And faking a smile is another skill I won't teach my kids.
Many of the other "manners" have to do with children saying please, thank you, and excuse me, all of which come with their own sets of confusing rules from society. I know these words are things that are valued by society. I do explain to my children that people like to hear these words, because it makes people feel good. But if my child forgets to say one of these things when expected, I step in and say it for her. And I say these things to my children often.
I don't require these words from my children or anyone else for that matter, because I think forced politeness is not polite at all. And before anyone says my kids must be rude and thoughtless, let me assure you that my kids (at ages 2 and 4) express genuine gratitude and appreciation toward me, each other, and other people every day, without being forced.
Why do we expect things from kids (by age nine) that we don't expect from adults? Why do adults think kids are not important enough to be heard? Why are people who obviously hate children writing highly visible articles about parenting?