When I grew up we were taught to address our elders using the designation of Mr. and Mrs. Whenever we spoke to adults I recall always using last names with Mr.,Mrs., and Miss, with the persons last name. This included my teachers in school, friends, parents and neighbors. Time has certainly changed, and it seems most things have become less formal, including language, clothing, the way we address others and most of all respect! Respect for others was taught in our homes and also schools.
What are today’s children being taught in the homes? The fact that most homes today have two working parents makes this issue more challenging. I believe manners should be instilled at a young age, even before kindergarten and on a daily basis. I recall my family at the dinner table…you didn’t reach clear across the table for something, but politely asked for it to be passed. Example: “Mom, can you please pass the salt?” We were small, but respect was encouraged. It seems that families rarely gather around the table for dinner any longer…it’s drive-thru fast food or they are huddled in front of televisions, laptops and on their cell phones. Parents are also guilty of this.
The younger generation scares me at times. I feel so much is lost when it comes to manners and etiquette they are not being taught. Perhaps I’m old-fashioned, but I like being addressed as “Miss Lisa” using my first name. Today it is socially acceptable to use a first name. As far as using Mr. and Mrs., it seems to be a thing of the past. Society has become so casual, that some children and grandchildren are calling adults by their first name. It does not teach our children proper etiquette or respect. It seems children have a need to feel important and equal with others, and they are, but setting boundaries for them that are age-appropriate is important. We need our children to understand that by addressing elders properly, it helps to establish a respectful relationship between adult and child.
Parents need to be an example, and unfortunately this too can be a problem. When adults scream and yell at each other, our children begin to suppress their fears and begin looking for an escape, so how can they have respect when they don’t see it? In past generations our parents seemed more active in our daily lives; friends over for family dinner times and playing board games as a family. And then there are the years of adolescence. Manners and politeness were very important when attending social functions or even going to a friends’ house after school. What I grew up with is not todays “norm.” Rudeness and misbehaving children are lurking everywhere: grocery stores, classrooms, movie theaters and on the streets. It is a sad, growing problem. I am thankful I grew up when I did. For whatever it is worth, I know that proper etiquette is not enforced in all homes today, and in some places is socially acceptable. It does not mean you have to like it. After all, this is America. You may choose to pass your knowledge on to your children, or simply go with the flow. Remember one thing though; our children are our future.
Make your week count.