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Monday, 10 March 2014 09:34

How Do You Define 'Rude'?

When I was a child, there were a few politeness 'rules' that weren't effectively drilled into me.  I may have asked for things nicely, but I rarely said 'please', and it wasn't until one of my uncles patronized me when I was already an adult about this, and - despite my embarrassment at being treated like a child - I made an honest effort to change my bad habit in this regard. In the end, I appreciate his willingness to let me know that I - even unknowingly - was coming across as rude. 

I would like to spare my children this particular embarrassment, and teach them how to be as polite as possible in all circumstances. This can be a little bit tricky, because what is considered 'rude' can be entirely different depending on the company you are in. Some people appreciate when you ask about their personal lives, because it shows that you care about them personally, while others are annoyed and even offended when you ask about their personal lives because they see it as being 'nosy'.  There are also cultural differences in different areas of the world, and although our girls haven't yet been exposed to a lot of different locations or cultures, I would like them to be, and so it's important to me that they (and I) have an awareness of how to be respectful to other people. 

So, for those of you who are parents - what basic manners do you teach your children? And for those of you who may not have children, what manners do you think should be taught to children?

Here are a few thoughts I have now - I'd love to hear other people's responses.

  • Always say 'please' and 'Thank you'.  
  • Always say 'sorry' when you have done something wrong - even if it was an accident. When someone else apologizes, tell them you forgive them. 
  • Always greet others - whether this is someone who comes to your house to visit, or whether it is a stranger on the street - smile and say 'hi'. 
  • When you are in a conversation, ask other people about themselves; their lives, their families, their experiences, their thoughts. I've decided that in this regard, it is better to let someone know that you care about them, and that most people respond well to being asked personal questions.  In cases where people are uncomfortable with personal questions, hopefully I will learn enough to be able to teach my daughters how to read these signs. 
  • Ask others - particularly those older than you - what they would like to be called. As an adult, I tend to take my cue from how a person introduces themself, but for my children, I like to ask what that person prefers. I was forever annoyed when my sister insisted that her children call me 'Auntie Sam' when I would MUCH prefer to be just 'Sam' or 'Samantha' to them, although I have come to understand the significance of this to the family. I am now ok with being called 'Auntie Sam' for her sake, but because I know many people who would prefer to be addressed by their first names, I would like my children to get into the habit of asking "What would you like me to call you?" We no longer live in a world where 'Mr. and Mrs.' can be assumed (and don't you dare call me that, ever!) and I think it's most polite to call others what they are most comfortable being called.
  • Close your mouth when you chew.
  • Stay at the table until everyone is finished eating. (We are working up to this one).

I'm leaving out some of the obvious ones, like 'don't throw food on the floor', and 'don't talk about pee at the table', but I assume that my daughters will grow out of these particular habits soon so I'm mostly thinking ahead to the manners and habits I would like to teach them as they grow.

I know I've missed many things on this list - what are your thoughts? What have I missed? Do you disagree with any of these? 

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