Minding Their Manners
Kudos to Nicole Graev Lipson for her article “Why Today’s Kids Are So Rude” (October 27). I don’t think the trend began in this generation, as I see the same thing even in adults. What is missing is a sense of community and belonging, which when intact softly pushes us to be the keeper of our brothers and sisters. As someone born in the 1980s, I was an early recipient of the nascent permissive parenting style now so in vogue, at least in liberal environments. In part this was a rebellion by the postwar generation against stifling conformity; its harvest is an unrooted, irreverent society seemingly incapable of civility even at the highest levels.
I agree wholeheartedly that children and parents spend far too much time with screens, ebooks, and “virtual assistance.” It’s up to the adults to control this! Manners and autonomy can coexist. However, manners must be the priority. Stop protecting children (they are amazingly resilient!) and emphasize compliance. Then, creative, independent thinking can be cultivated. To the parents who claim minimal time between the end of their work and children’s bedtime: It is up to the parent to make time. It is simply a question of priority.
John M. Whelden
Albany, New York
Lipson describes a father who volunteers as coach of his daughter’s soccer team and is pelted with soccer balls by laughing children while their parents stand idly by on the sidelines. Parents’ silence and passivity abet and reinforce their kids’ conduct and give free reign to disrespect and, yes, even cruelty. They are not being taught self-confidence and teamwork; they are being carpooled for lessons in selfishness and bullying. It’s not manners their children need so badly; it’s empathy. The title of the article should really be “Why Parents Today Are so Apathetic.”
Thomas F. Schiavoni
When I was growing up [in the 1950s and ’60s], kids were to be seen and not heard. We were taught manners. We were taught to respect our elders. We were taught to play well with others. We never were the center of the universe. We never were treated as irreplaceable china. Social interaction was the mechanism for interpersonal relationships. Now we have social media. How can there be social interaction with hundreds — let alone millions — of others to follow? Watching screens stimulates dopamine. Losing the highest levels of pleasure response mediated by dopamine can bring about agitation, leading to mood changes and actions such as acting out, nasty outbursts, and blatant disrespect. Thus we have created these kids: More demanding, less courteous, and with fewer social graces than we would like.
Dr. Martin L. Gelman
As a longtime preschool teacher, I respectfully disagree with the local parent’s opinion [quoted in the story] that it’s fine to delay introducing the concepts of courtesy and empathy to very young children. Instead, she thinks it’s more important to teach self-advocacy and then, at some later date, tweak that approach to incorporate social graces. Beginning in early childhood, prioritizing respect for the basic humanity in all individuals, over the trendy “individualism” mentality, is healthier. Children will feel more connected to the world around them and, in turn, will be able to find comfort from others in times of trouble — long after Mom and Dad are gone.
Judith Silva Nee
On the very first page of this article, there were three different scenarios of behavior that my husband and I, and MANY other people I know, would have immediately nipped in the bud when our children were growing up. Who are the adults here? I read the article twice and still fail to see how being rude will benefit our children as they grow and make their way to be adults.
Attempting to teach manners at age 6 is like shutting the barn door after the horse escapes. The thing about manners is, once they’re taught, and are expected, children rise to the occasion and they become automatic. Little ones who are learning to converse are not too young to say “please” and “thank you.” It does require gentle but firm reminders. This “training” may give parents more confidence in what response their child will give after drinking that yummy lemonade.
I was anxious to read this as I am trying to raise three polite kids who will hopefully contribute to society. But it only took three paragraphs to see it was just another President Trump-bashing article. The writer says that “even our political leaders don’t show basic signs of civility.” I had to laugh. My elected congresswoman decided that she would boycott the presidential inauguration, was that a civil way to behave? The writer says she hears children say that the president is bad every day — what happened to respect for the office of the president? She should have pointed that out to the child. [The Globe should] look at what it is teaching about proper behavior.
Having taught public school, I was sickened by Wallace Foundation-funded manner classes that are being used to promote sexism (“Minding Their Manners: Why Some Schools are Paying More Attention to Civility,” October 27). The girls wear tiaras and the boys wear ties — really? So we are again setting the bar that girls aspire for fanciful, princess goals, while the boys seek a profession? This is not OK. I hope someone will change this sex-defining practice.
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