Monthly Archives: August 2012

The mindlessness in manners.

I have never asked my children to say please or thank you.
It is after all culturally expected and accepted that we “teach” our children manners; that we force them to say thank you so they can be grateful and polite. After receiving something, it’s common to hear the parent reminding the child to say thank you. But What if the child is not thankful? What if the gift is totally inappropriate for them? Are we teaching them to lie?
I don’t believe that an attitude of gratitude can be so easily forced. It’s something that comes from the heart and sometimes it takes time to process how we feel about what we are grateful for.
. I am not so sure that forced manners equal kinder, nicer and more grateful beings. They can be just words, mindlessly recited out of obligation. Is that gratitude? Is it polite?
Often to me formal language feels so disconnected and demeaning anyways like when a child says “May I have an apple?”. It makes me think they are groveling to get their basic needs met. I don’t speak like, do you?

I’ll also take the heartfelt hugs and in detail descriptions of how much they love a gift, over a thank you.
So, I think I’ll stick to letting their language evolve naturally in it’s own time without my judgements and constant corrections. There’s more to language than the words we use. There are facial expression and tones of voice and ones character and reputation will play into it too.
There’s been many times that I was tempted to, and honestly it was to make the giver, an adult, feel good. It’s not always easy though, I’ve crossed my fingers and thought “please say thank you.” What I have been doing is saying thank you myself. Not for them, but for me because I am thankful when people are kind to my children.

The best thing I can do is express and model my own appreciation and gratitude. And that’s going to mean not blaming or being judgmental. They, the children are going to learn about expressing their appreciation he same way they are learning to walk and talk; by being immersed in it. I love that my children have the freedom to use more than a meaningless thank you. Often they will come back later, after some thought, with a drawing or a card of thanks. When my children say thank you, it means a lot because I know it was unprompted and is a genuine gesture of their gratitude.