Sunday, November 7, 2010

Mrs. Manners

So I may not agree with some things that my parents did while raising us, but I have to say that there's one thing about which we are most definitely sympatico: manners. 

Now that Roo has gotten (incredibly) verbal, I'm finding myself constantly suggesting politer ways for him to say things, forever reminding him about sharing and taking turns, and frequently scolding him for being rude or demanding. 

If only all parents were doing the same.

Not to suggest, of course, that no other parents do.  Of course some do, but lately it just seems to me that there are an awful lot that apparently don't.

At a local indoor playground recently, I was seriously shocked at how many children felt totally within their right to push in front of another child to use the play equipment.  Even when the other child was obviously much younger.  And the few times when I felt it was necessary to ask a child to kindly refrain from pushing in front of my son and wait their turn instead, these children demonstrated an unacceptable (to me) display of attitude.  Eyerolls, snarky comments, or just plain ignoring me and continuing to take their stolen turn.

When I was little, I had no choice but to wait my turn, not push smaller kids around, and certainly not to sass an adult who admonished me if I did misbehave.  Now I realize I'm getting a little long in the tooth, but come on, I'm not THAT old.  Good manners aren't obsolete, are they?

Lately I've been reading a lot of articles and blogs about free range parenting and so-called "old school" parenting and from what I see, the general theme here is to not over-parent.  To allow kids to be kids and be free from rules.  Like how "we" were raised.  (Except that some of us weren't, but I don't want to digress too much.)  Which seems reasonable enough in theory, but I believe it comes with the side effect I've been noticing. 

So obviously I am not a free range mom.  I also don't believe in overly scheduling my kids, or hovering over them every minute of every day, or never allowing them to have any fun, but I am a firm believer that it's my job to teach my kids good manners and how to grow up to be kind, considerate, decent adults one day.  I wouldn't want every part of their lives to be governed by terribly strict rules, but I do think a little bit of structure and instruction is necessary to avoid ending up with a cohort of kids who behave like drunken monkeys.

At the risk of sounding like I know it all, I suggest that, as with most things, a happy medium is the best answer.  I know, shocking to hear that from me, right? 

Big fan of free range chicken.  Free range kids, not so much.  At least not butting in front of us on the slide.


  1. That isn't the way I understand "free-range" parenting. I understand it as a not-overscheduling method of parenting, but not a "let my kid do whatever the heck he or she feels like" method either!

    I think the difference there is that so many parents want to be their kids best friend rather than their parent! Kids still need those rules and boundaries that only a parent can provide, IF they are providing it. A lot of kids these days (oh my, did I just say 'kids these days'?) seem to be growing up in an environment where they have HUGE senses of entitlement.

  2. It's definitely possible that I'm mis-defining "free range parenting"...if what it truly means is just not being excessively strict and programmed, then I suppose I am raising my kids that way. But then I don't know what to call it when parents are so lax/distracted/disinterested in what their kids are doing and the kids are essentially lawless. Cause I've been seeing an awful lot of those.

  3. I totally know what you mean! I don't know if it's "free range" but possibly part of that philosophy. There are a ton of parents nowadays who seem to think that any sort of discipline is wrong (I can think of a few from BB!). They're all "Oh, but he's just a kid, he doesn't know that it's wrong to push." Well, DUH, that's why you are supposed to TEACH THEM! Obviously you need to have age-appropriate expectations - I don't expect that my kids will never try to push or do something inappropriate - but I do expect that either I or my husband would respond appropriately by intervening!