“Ben.” “What?” My skin crawled. My hackles rose. My indignation was evident. It was a response and a tone that is totally unacceptable from a three-year-old. You see, I have taught, and repeatedly reminded, my children that when a parent or adult addresses them, they are to respond by saying, “Sir?” or “Ma’am?” It is non-negotiable.
So, with that in mind, I have watched my children over the past week with manners in mind, and I have determined to be more diligent in teaching them not only how to have good manners, but why good manners matter.
There is a reason for this. As a pastor, I spend my life with people. And since I spend so much time with people I see many – both adults and children – who either were not taught good manners or have decided that manners don’t matter. But here’s the thing – they do.
• Manners show respect.
• They are evidence of proper parenting and discipline.
• They let others know that they are important.
• They make children, and later adults, a pleasure to be around.
I was talking with a close friend about the children of a mutual friend. We were trying to figure out how to go about dealing with these children that are most evidently – to everybody except perhaps their parents – totally and completely OUT OF CONTROL. Wherever they go, they cause chaos. They break things. They cause problems with the other children. They constantly interrupt and take over the conversation. They treat the church auditorium like their personal gymnasium – running laps, jumping from the stage, crawling under the pews, juggling microphones. When they leave a restaurant, their table looks like a war zone. (That’s assuming they’re not asked to leave by the management.) To cut to the point – these children reflect badly on and make it difficult for other adults to be around their parents.
Don’t get me wrong, these are great people. They are sweet and kind. They love Jesus and serve Him. They are even in full-time ministry. But whenever they bring their children the pets hide, the other children cry, the waiters cringe, and the other adults start preparing for a LOOONG and frustrating evening together.
So, today I’ll share what I believe are the ten most important manners to teach children. Then next week I’ll go into greater detail about what manners can be expected at particular ages, and then how to teach proper table manners.
Top Ten Manners To Teach Your Children
1. How to properly meet and greet people.
2. How to be a welcome guest and a gracious host.
3. How to speak politely and properly – “Yes” and “No” (Or “Yes sir” and “No sir.” As opposed to “What?” “Yeah” or just a grunt.) “Hello, goodbye, thank you, please, excuse me, I’m sorry, may I?”
4. Respectful behavior in church or other public places.
5. How to write, color or draw “thank you” notes.
6. How to properly respond to invitations and follow through on their response.
7. Good table manners.
8. How to properly answer and talk on the telephone.
9. Showing respect for their elders and other authority figures.
10. Opening doors for others.
These are my personal top ten. Do you have any suggestions or thoughts? Remember, use good manners when responding.