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Where have all the manners gone?

I WAS visiting a couple when their son walked in from school. As the parents greeted him, he answered them without even stopping to look at them. As they were about to tell him that there was a visitor in the house, he continued to his bedroom and banged the door.

A few minutes later, he re-appeared and went straight to the kitchen to make himself a drink. We were still talking when he walked into the sitting room, cup in hand, got the TV remote, and turned the television on to start watching his favourite cartoon movies.

The father then told him about my presence. He looked at me as I greeted him and, with a quick “hi”, the boy was back to his TV watching while sipping his drink. The father was visibly embarrassed and suggested that we sit outside and leave the boy alone.
As we settled under a tree outside, which I did not mind because there was a cool breeze passing under the tree, I talked with the couple about what I had witnessed. They needed to nurture the boy in the area of politeness and good manners while he was young.
It is often the failure by parents in this area that gives birth to a society where no-one cares about how other people feel. If that boy does not learn to greet visitors with respect now, he will certainly not learn it when he is an adult and is wielding an iPhone in his hands.
Is that not what our problem is today? We have too many people who cannot even respect a queue. They cannot see that someone who got there before them has the first right to the goods at the end of the queue. No, they want the goods and they must get them first.
Where have all the manners gone? I grew up in a culture where elderly people had priority over young ones. When eating together, older people got the first share of the food and then it was our turn. Even among the children, we allowed the older siblings to go first.
It was the same on buses. It did not matter how comfortably you were seated or how tired you were; if an elderly person got on the bus, you knew that your time on that seat was over. These days, we fight for seats with school-boys…and we always lose pretty badly.
I also grew up in a culture where men treated women as “the weaker vessel”, to borrow a biblical phrase. Men did most of the work that demanded muscle power. They also gave seats to women. When speaking, we said, “Ladies and gentlemen.” It was ladies first!
Good manners are best learnT while children are very young. Some things should be “a matter of course”. For instance, children should be taught to say “thank you” when they are given anything. They should also be taught to say “sorry” when they have done wrong.
They should be taught to share what they have with those who do not have. This must start with their toys. “No, it is mine!” should be exorcised from children as soon as possible. No-one becomes generous when he is earning his thousands who did not share his tens.
Children should also be taught to ask. Yes, to ask. “May I please have…?” is one of the hardest words for a human being to produce, especially when “No” is a possible answer. The sooner individuals learn this, the better. They learn to respect other people’s property.
The Bible says, “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel” (James 4:1–2).
It is these “passions” that need to be brought under control very early in a child’s life. Failure to do so is what produces a bloody world when these children grow up. They fail to take “No” for an answer. Thus, they steal and kill. Good manners must be learnT very early.
Therefore, it is back to us parents. Home must be an educational institution, much more than the schools where our children go. Schools are there to polish up and fine-tune what we the parents are already working into the lives of our children. We must teach children politeness.
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