Responsibility Starts at Home

There is no handbook for good parenting. More often than not, parental skills are passed on from one generation to the next and further developed through the prism of personal experience.

I am sure that every parent has vowed on at least one occasion not to repeat the mistakes of their own childhood lessons. Thus we have what is hoped to be a continuing improvement in the guidance and raising of our children. At least that is how it is supposed to work.

However, reality suggests that this ‘building on the foundations of our ancestors’ approach isn’t working when it comes to raising children today. How else can we explain the decline in the behaviour and courtesies society has come to expect from minors?

When did the historical hallmarks of politeness disappear from the important lessons we are supposed to teach our children?

The modern child is no longer expected to know the correct way to use a knife and fork, stand for adults on public transport, look someone in the eye when they are speaking to them, use ‘please’ and ‘thank you’, have clean shoes or be able to write more than a text message.

These are failures, not of our school system or of our governments. They are a failure of parents who, rather than correcting the mistakes of the past, are compounding them.

With two young children I know how frustrating it is to tell them for the ten thousandth time ‘not to chew with their mouths open’ or to ‘pick up after themselves’. My own mother will tell you that saying it for the millionth time isn’t any more pleasant but that doesn’t mean you simply give up.

Unfortunately, in today’s society where all gratification is instant, unless a parent gets an immediate result they feel it’s okay to give up. They have probably been told by some new-age social worker that to persist would be to ‘pressure the child’ resulting in all sorts of dire future consequences.

Frankly, such an approach is a cop-out that is doing our children and our society a disservice. Unless we arrest this decline in civility and good manners, our current generations will have failed our future ones.

Our very society requires courtesy to function effectively and it can be no coincidence that many of the travails that burden our young people today coincide with the decline in the lessons best learned from one’s parents.

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