Manners are about respect. Saying please and thank you, listening to others and not interrupting, and giving up your seat to someone who looks like they need it more than you do, is all about respecting other people. Is this not what you want for your child; that they treat others with decency and respect and then expect to be treated in the same fashion? Manners are not simply about knowing which forks and spoons to use, not that it hurts to be at ease in nice restaurants too. As a father don’t you want your daughter to date gentlemen who treat her well and with a healthy dose of good manners? And wouldn’t it be nice if your son dated ladies who were respectful and polite and was himself a gentleman?
If you think about daily life you will quickly find that manners are important there too. You will receive better customer service if you are polite to people and you will not survive many interviews if your first impression is one of rudeness and tactless poor behavior. Manners are considered by some to be a social lubricant and a way to get ahead as this fascinating article explains. In fact, many successful businessmen actually write thank you notes after each interview in order to thank the perspective employer for their time. Nobody will hire you if you interrupt them, chew gum loudly, or arrive late. This is because manners really do matter in real life. An employer wants to hire a person who can be trusted to treat their colleagues and clients with respect and doesn’t need to be babysat to ensure that they do not offend everyone around them.
Be polite, courteous and helpful and your children will learn that this is how they should also treat people. If you want to teach your children to be grateful then you need to exhibit it as well. In my family we are not always the best at expressing ourselves, but thank you notes have always been a big deal. Every birthday and Christmas produced a list of people we needed to thank. We were not raised to believe that our grandparents owed us presents. They were sending us gifts out of love and it was our job to thank them for their generosity. We may have grumbled at our mother who sat us down with pens and stationery but we couldn’t grumble too loudly because we also watched as our father sat down and wrote his own too. Now, my Dad isn’t much of a phone talking, hand written notes sort of guy, but thank you notes are simply required. End of story.
If you are the sort of Dad who practices the manners he wishes his children to have you will find that they learn how to behave from you and teaching manners will not be quite so hard. If you write thank you notes after interviews, for gifts received, or support offered (such as a friend who helped you move, or someone who donated to a cause you were fundraising for), then your children will notice. There is a lot of pressure to be cool as a child and if thank you notes seem uncool they may not want to do them. However, if they see their dad writing thank you notes it will be hard to argue that they are not manly or cool. They may not grumble as much if you tell them to write a thank you to their grandpa for allowing them to interview him for a school project, or a thank you to their distant aunt for that toy they love so much.
It really doesn’t take much time out of your busy day to hold a door open for an elderly lady with shopping bags, or to write a quick note to someone to say thanks, but it is a big deal. People will remember if you do. Manners help you show others that you care and help you be a more successful pleasant person all the way around. There is simply no substitute for genuine manners; so do not neglect them.
This is a guest post written by Melinda Wilson on behalf of Vista Print, a manufacturer of custom photo thank you cards.