Manners cost nothing, just don’t expect a thank you note.

I, like most parents, try to teach my children good manners.

I teach them to say please if they’d like something and thank you if they receive something.
I try to teach them not to interrupt if others are talking and not to point out the more ‘negative’ traits of others aloud.
I try to teach them not to pick their nose (and eat it) or to take their shoes off at a restaurant. These last two are battles I am losing.

There’s one ‘manner’ I don’t teach them.

One I don’t push and I know it irks some of the older generation.

I don’t make my children write thank you notes.

Sacre bleu!

Yes. We’re the family you won’t receive a thank you note from when you send a Christmas or birthday present.

Don’t get me wrong, you will be thanked for the gift and it will be truly appreciated but you won’t get a note.

Why?

Well, I can’t explain to my children why they should sit and write thank you notes to people who don’t feel they should write them back.

There’s an older generation who believe they should receive letters of gratitude but don’t have to even acknowledge a gift ‘bought’ for them from Aoife and Seth. And as much as I want to teach my children that manners get you far in life I also want to teach them that they’re a two way street.

Good manners should be both given and received.

A lot like respect.

I hate to make sweeping generalisations but I’m going to…
It’s the older generation who are the worst offenders.
A text or verbal thanks isn’t enough, it MUST be a hand written missive.

Dear Auntie Elsie,
Thank you so much for my £2 Woolworths voucher. It is fantastic, I bought an annual.

We never get a

Dear Aoife,
Thank you for my lavender drawer liner. It was fabulous, my bloomers smell fresh as daisies. 

letter back.

What does that teach our children?

We have to show good manners and respect to our elders but none in return.

Another example (that REALLY pissed my mum off) occurred today.

Aoife attends a C of E school.
This morning was an all ages parade service at church so the school and other kids groups played a large part in the service.
It was a full house.
We sat at the back of church and there were two old dears, regular church goers and part of the church ‘staff’ in front of us.

A group of children performed a drama.
Two choirs of children sang.
Another group of children did the prayers.
It was all lovely and sweet.
Throughout the whole of the glorious performances these two old women wittered.
ALL. THE. WAY. THROUGH.
Not whispered, proper chatted.
THEN they got their diaries out to start planning a bridge game or whatever it is old people do.

Can you even IMAGINE if the children sat and talked through the vicar’s chat during a regular service?
They’d play merry hell at the insolence of these youngsters.
Yet, these women didn’t have the manners, or respect, to sit nicely and appreciate the show.

How can we expect our children to learn good manners if good manners aren’t shown to them in the first place?
More pertinently, WHY should we tell our children to automatically respect their elders when some of their elders don’t even have the decency to show good manners or respect to them?

Walking down the street or round a supermarket, I’ve seen grown adults almost mow my children down.
It is expected that my child step into a road, shove themselves into a bush or dive into the cheese fridge because the entirely capable adult shouldn’t have to give way to a child.

My children are children, not lesser beings.
They’re watching you and learning how to behave from your actions.

It’s a pretty screwed up hierarchy of manners we have going here and I for one am not going to make my children conform.
I will continue to teach my children good manners and I will teach them to respect others but not unconditionally.

For a gift you will receive thanks, but not in script.
If they require something from you they will say please.
They’ll try desperately hard not to interrupt you but will probably do a little dance saying ‘excuse me, excuse me’ because they have something really important to say.
They will tell me nicely that they love my wobbly tummy.
They’re probably going to pick their noses for a good few years yet. Sorry.

However, if you were to actually thank them for something, they’d probably draw you a picture.

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