I’m getting frustrated with what I see as a lack of manners wherever I go. I’m not that old but I do have a young child that I’ve taught to say ‘thank you’ whenever someone does something nice. Or ‘please’ when you want something.
How do we help others find their manners and help children find their manners without sounding like a condescending a—? Do unto others and all that…
Not Emily Post but I do like her work
Dear Not Emily Post,
This is a tough one. It seems like a straightforward issue that should have a straightforward answer and, in 1990, it would be just that. But we are living in a different time. It’s 2022, and this badger has seen a lot of changes since then. I do remember the days where everyone said please and thank you. I remember crawling out of my hole and some other woodland creature would greet me with a “Good morning, badger.” Even the grizzlies were polite enough to chew with their mouths closed but now it seems that even that has gone out the window. When did people stop telling their small humans (and themselves) to chew with their mouth closed? I don’t know but I think it went out with the please-and-thank-you bathwater!
Here’s the problem. A lot of therapists and people who are self-help gurus have told small humans that they do not need to say thank you when someone does something for them. They do not want the child to feel forced to feel appreciation. I only have a few degrees because badgers can do that what with all the online courses these days, so I don’t want to come across as the end-all-be-all expert. I do, however, want to say that telling your small humans that it’s okay not to show appreciation or to hold a door open for someone is wrong… in my badger opinion column.
Here is why I THINK it’s wrong. If I woke up early one morning to kill an ermine and bring it back to my friend who loves ermines and they just ate it without saying thank you, I’m not going to do that again. Why? I don’t think they appreciated it. If I don’t hold a branch up so my coyote friend doesn’t get smacked in the face with it, then he’s not going to do the same thing for me or any other woodland creature. Kindness, appreciation, thank-you’s, pleases, they all serve a larger purpose and it’s absolute garbage to tell your small humans that it’s OK just to do whatever they want to in regards to manners. Why not give them independence in the other 1,000 things they can do throughout the day? If someone does something nice for them, they should say thank you or else the world is upside down and I’m going to start eating people’s faces on the subway next week like that rogue rat.
As parents, you should exhibit the behaviors you want your kids to display. If you’re not helpful, they won’t be helpful. If you do not say thank you and please, guess what? They’re not going to either unless it’s to spite you which small humans can do from time to time. Life is short and people like to feel special. Everyone, even the smallest of ones, wants to feel appreciated and loved. So if you open the door for someone, that’s going to go a long way. They might do it for someone else. If you tell someone how thankful you are for what they have done in front of your small human, they are going to do the same thing on a smaller scale at school when a friend shares something with them. All of the little kindnesses ripple like a rock in the river and I sure hope that you feel more of them soon, Not Post.