Dear Barb—Mind Your Manners

Dear Barb:

I am the mother of two teenagers, and I am trying to teach them how to live their lives with dignity, respect, and good manners, as I believe these qualities will help them to achieve a happy and more successful life.  I am finding this very difficult to accomplish, as most of the teenagers today are so influenced by social media that they don’t pay attention to basic etiquette and treating others with respect.  As typical teenagers, my kids have a short attention span for listening to me or their father, but I would like to provide some basic suggestions or tips that they may be open to.  Ultimately, my hope is to give them some skills to fall back on when faced with unfamiliar situations.  I know this seems like a tall order, but I’m in need of some advice.  Thanks, Julia. 

Hey Julia:

What a great question!  I found an online site, gt20.org (GiveTeens20), aimed at helping teenagers live their best life.  It is a great site with tips and videos on many subjects.  I also found a section called “Rules of Etiquette.” The section is subdivided into Basic Etiquette, Etiquette for Gentlemen, Social Etiquette, and Etiquette for Ladies.  Each title is expanded further online at gt20.org.  Possibly you could insert some of these simple guidelines into a conversation you are having with your teenager, this way they won’t feel you are preaching to them.  As an example, some of the topics from the basic etiquette portion of the site:

Be yourself and allow others to treat you with respect.
Say “thank you”.
Give genuine compliments.
Don’t be boastful, arrogant, or loud.
Listen before speaking.
Speak with kindness and caution.
Do not criticize or complain.
Be punctual.
Do not embarrass others.
Act and look your best.

The final topic is Etiquette for Ladies and the basic theme of this section is to be “kind” and choosing to believe the best about others and yourself.  You are correct, Julia, in believing that your children will fare better in life with good manners and etiquette.  According to elegantwoman.org, manners say more about who we are than we even realize.  For example, they tell other people who we are, how we were brought up, what kind of family we have, and our social class.  Manners can also indicate our level of education, our reading and travelling experiences, and basically what kind of person we are.  Hopefully this information will be helpful.  You can also go to the sites mentioned above and print out some information and leave it where you teenager may pick it up, or send them a link in their email.  You just never know, they may be curious.  Thanks for your email Julia.

Email your questions to voice@voicemagazine.org. Some submissions may be edited for length or to protect confidentiality; your real name and location will never be printed. This column is for entertainment only. The author is not a professional counsellor and this column is not intended to take the place of professional advice.
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