Each generation bemoans a lack of manners and respect in the next. I think it’s been that way since Adam was a boy. Parents of young kids are a constant, easy target for those that have forgotten just hard it is. Or never had anything to do with bringing up kids in the first place.
But you know what would make it a little easier? If the people levelling the charges showed some good manners themselves.
In the past few days I’ve seen some ridiculously entitled behaviour. And it tends to be from the generation that say “kids these days have no backbone, no respect and no manners“, yet show very little of those values themselves.
A couple of school mornings a week, students from our school participate in run club. It’s a great initiative run by teacher and parent volunteers. A bunch of children gather together in the local park and are challenged to improve their style and speed. And to have a bit of fun. A shared bike path runs through the park. It’s clearly signed that it’s shared between pedestrians and bike riders. Entitled, white guy comes through on his bike and had to wait a few moments before the kids were all safely moved to one side to let him through. All bluster, he puffs, clearly enraged “it’s not like I have to get to work or anything“. I suppose the traffic parts like the red sea as he approaches. I’m sure he went off, believing himself completely in the right and that the rude behaviour was on behalf of the kids “in his way”.
The other morning I headed out to breakfast with my boys. We waited in the area marked to wait to be seated. An older white gentleman and his friend joined the queue behind us. As soon as a waiter approached, they started asking for a table, ignoring my boys and I. There is very little that enrages me more than people who jump queue. But clearly they thought themselves more important, more worthy than those who were waiting first.
I went to the Adele concert on Saturday and it was all kinds of fabulous. But once again I saw those people who decided that they were more important than those around them. They stood, when everyone else was seated, completely blocking the view of those behind them. Everyone at that concert paid a lot of money for their chance to see and hear Adele. When those standing were asked to be seated by the very organised and patient security staff, you can imagine the replies.
I actually wonder what these people see. Did they see my boys and I waiting at the restaurant? Maybe they didn’t. Did the bike rider see the kids trying hard, the parents and teachers giving up their time? Probably not. Did the people standing at Adele acknowledge that they weren’t the only ones in a 60,000 strong crowd? Their actions certainly didn’t. Are they the only ones visible in their worlds? The only ones that matter? To me, that deliberate choice to not see is where bad manners start.
Manners are a way of letting other people know that they are valued and respected. A way of saying “I see you. You are important. My actions and words reflect that“. It’s incredibly important to me that my boys consider others. I want to bring up empathetic children who understand the true value of manners and are respected in the same way.
We set that example at home. Our family, friends and teachers set that example. It would help enormously if the village surrounding us did too.