Archive for the Manners Category

Rudeness … A Major Source of Childhood Danger

Posted in Children, children and manners, communication, Etiquette, Manners, parenting on August 2, 2011 by Olivia A. Harris

“Don’t make me have to speak to you once we’ve left this house!” Those were the words my father always said to me and my brother whenever we went out as a family. My mother would stand by and punctuate my father’s declaration with ‘the look’.

It was not that my parents didn’t want to speak to us in public. Afterall, we are a family of talkers. It is rare that one of us has an opinion we don’t feel compelled to share. The message my father was trying to get across to his children was the difference between ‘required’ and ‘voluntary’ communication. There is a difference.

Voluntary communication for my parents would essentially be pleasant exchanges with their children when visiting family. Rudeness would fall into the category of required communication. You know what I mean.

Mom: “Tell your Auntie her gravy is delicious.”
Me: “I can’t! It’s cold and nasty.”
Mom: “Tell her anyway.”
Dad: (hissed between clenched teeth covered by his moustache) “Don’t make me have to come over there and talk to you!”
Me: “Auntie, that is really nice gravy!”

Now the described scenario falls somewhere between the two noted forms of communication. Had I been foolish enough to stand my ground, my behaviour would have been judged as rude and I condemned to swift discipline. Luckily I remembered the usual warning received before we left our house. Had I forgotten this my father would have been ‘required’ to talk to me. In fact, it would have been the sort of discussion where my input would not have been best kept to myself.

I must admitt that as I child I hated all of this. As a teenager it made me laugh. Now as an adult I appreciate the value in it all.

I now understand my parents weren’t trying to hurt me (well, not for the most part). They were trying to cultivate in me a sense of appropriate behaviour . For instance, sometimes you compliment a host on their meal, not because you like it, but as a sign of appreciation for the effort they made on your behalf. More importantly, my parents wanted me to grow up to be a decent and respectful person. They wanted me to understand that when you leave your home and enter that of another, to make sure the only memory you leave behind is a pleasant one of your visit. And nothing else.

Recently I have noticed many parents are not sharing these lessons with their children. As a result their childrern are often difficult to be around. I’ve noticed that these parents will let their little darlings act out with excuses, offense after offense, until suddenly they snap. Then it isn’t pretty. It all ends with cursing and tears by both parents and child.

Each time I’ve witnessed one of these melt-downs, I always think, if only they had used my father’s technique they could have taught their children early on that rudeness is a major source of childhood danger.

– Mantha Baby


Must you clip your nails in public???

Posted in Etiquette, Manners on March 10, 2011 by Olivia A. Harris

 From the few posts I’ve made, you can tell that I am particular about what sort of behavior I consider acceptable and unacceptable in public. There are some forms of behavior that I simply cannot accept. At the top of that list has to be the sound of someone clipping their finger nails in the office!

Every Thursday morning for the last two years I have had to listen to the annoying ‘clip … clip… clip’ coming from the neighboring office.   I swear my colleague has more than 10 fingers (and I cringe at the thought, toes!!!) that he tends to every Thursday morning.   Not only does he perform this personal toilette at work with his office door open for all to hear, he insists on coming into my office when he is done.   Like an excited five year old, he holds his hands out to me and says, “Look! My hands are nice and clean now!  My mother always told me to keep my nails clean!”

 I do not know if his mother forgot to tell him to tend to his nails at home and in private.   I do not know if he is unaware that the sound of his nail clippers makes nearly everyone’s skin crawl.  What I do know is this: he ultimately does not care.   Why do I say this?   Well, there are some things in life you learn as you go along without being told by your parents or anyone else.   For instance, no one needs to be told that when in public you do not blow your nose in a tissue then examine the contents for all to see!   You don’t do this because it is simply a filthy, nasty and disgusting thing to do.   And clipping your finger nails at work with your office door open for all to hear ranks right down there too!