They say Manners Maketh Man which I presume to mean the difference between humans and animals. I'm sure there are animals with better manners than some humans, although bad manners aren't necessarily displayed by bad children.
The subject of “There are no bad kids, just bad parents” is sure to raise the hackles of some parents. Unfortunately, there isn't always a right and a wrong way, just what works in your household. But in my book, there aren't too many excuses for bad manners. If you don't reinforce boundaries, there's no point in setting them in the first place.
I'm probably anal about it, just as I am when I compare my own kids' milestones with others and inwardly groan when they aren't up to “standard” or alternative give a silent “hell yeah” when they are better than others.
Competitive parents are probably the worst kind and I ashamedly admit to being one. OK, I'm not the type to run alongside the field when my kids are playing sport, smacking some poor little kid around the ear because he or she defeated my little star. But there are men and women who do and worse who vicarious live through the achievements of their kids. This just sends the wrong messages to our kids.
But perhaps in my case, I can be forgiven for only wishing the best for my children, to achieve to the best of their ability and have fun doing it.
But I digress . . . back to manners. The smaller our kids are, the more we wish them to get older, to start sitting by themselves, to start walking, to start talking, until, before we know it, it's time for training bras and boyfriends.
We should take a step back and simply bask in the miracle of human development, and enjoy the milestones along the way and revel in the way they learn and interact with the world.
My daughter of four-and-a-half has got the manners thing almost perfect. She's like Pavlov's dog who salivates at the sound of the bell. I hold out the requested item, and don't let it go unless I get a “Thank You”. Mostly I don't have to go that far. The other day it was, “Thank you, I appreciate it.”
Kids are sponges and they pick up great sayings. Not so great when the TV or you yourself say an unmentionable word and try as you like, there is just no convincing them that you were really saying “Duck, Truck or Buck” - they just know, don't they? And kids seem to know what the bad words are. You never (or rarely) say to them, “OK, don't say %&*$ or ^#@(*” - they just know!
So what is the solution?
Who knows? Do we cocoon our kids and avoid any swearing from ourselves, TV, friends, strangers? Do we subject them to what they will inevitably learn during their development anyway? Or do we simply accept the ways of modern life and try our damnedest not to fail too often.
Because surely, there are no perfect parents.... only Dads who Matter!