This might be a controversial opinion, but I happen to think my parents did a stellar job raising me. I think I’ve become a pretty level-headed, rational, kind adult, and I like to think that my parents had a lot to do with that. But it seems like a lot of my generation seem to disagree with me.
As more and more millennials are having children, I’ve noticed a trend among this new generation of parents. They are adamant that they will not raise their children like they themselves were raised. They are choosing to abandon many of the rules that we grew up with, opting to raise their children differently. Unlike my fellow millennials, here are 5 rules for good manners that I plan to teach my children that their classmates might not learn anymore.
1. My children will shake hands, kiss, or hug in greeting. I know plenty of adults who recall occasions where they were forced to kiss old aunts and uncles when they were children. They remember feeling uncomfortable and vulnerable, and as a result, they’ve sworn never to force their own children to do the same. I won’t force my children to kiss anyone they don’t want to, but they will greet everyone in an appropriate manner, whether that means a handshake, a high five, or a hug.
2. My children will always apologize. It doesn’t matter that my daughter is only two and doesn’t understand why it’s wrong to hit. I know that she understands the meaning of the word “no,” and that’s enough for me. Apologizing isn’t just about teaching our children why certain behaviors are wrong; it’s also about making our children understand that their actions can hurt other people. If my child hits another person, accidentally or intentionally, he or she will apologize for causing harm to another person. Other children’s feelings matter too.
3. If my child brings a toy to the playground, it will be shared. If one of my kids doesn’t want to share a toy at the playground, my child has three options: (1) the toy stays in the car, (2) we go to a playground with no other kids, such as in our own backyard, or (3) we bring two toys of the same variety so the other one can be shared. Playgrounds are supposed to be about interacting with other kids. That’s why we go in the first place. I play with my kids at home, but the playground is all about making friends. And that often involves sharing.
4. My children will try everything they are served. I don’t expect my kids to clear their plates before dessert. I let them trust their guts, and I respect that my kids have unique tastes and preferences. But that doesn’t mean they can’t eat at least one bite of everything they’re served, even those foods they don’t like. We practice this at home all the time, which means they will more willingly try new things at restaurants and at dinner tables that are not their own.
5. My children will not use foul language. I grew up in a house where the “s word” was “stupid.” My kids might be allowed to say “stupid” (they don’t though), but that’s the extent of their foul language. I want my kids to sound respectful, and I want to maintain their innocence for as long as possible. I do believe that clean mouths help preserve a clean heart, so my kids won’t use foul language while they’re living under my roof.
I’m proud of the woman I’ve become, and I will be eternally thankful that my parents raised me the way they did. The best way that I can show my gratitude is to raise my own children in the same way. They are still young, but it’s never too early to start teaching children good manners. My kids are polite, kind, and generous, and I am so proud of them. I know that I will continue to be proud as they grow into polity, kind, and generous adults.