Saturday, October 4, 2008

Good Manners

Ahhhh....good manners. A mother's dream. I get goose bumps every time someone says to me, "your children are so polite." I turn cartwheels when I hear my sons say, "yes, please" or "no thank you." I drift off to sleep with a smile on my face realizing that some of what my husband and I do on a daily basis is actually sinking in.

I will never forget a playgroup I attended with my then 2 1/2 year old during which I reminded him about 50 times to say please and thank you. The hostess was offering cookies and crackers to all of the kids and when my son was offered and took a cookie I had to remind him to first say please and then say thank you. Several times. Maybe not 50, I could be exaggerating, but I did remind him several times. I will never forget the incredulous stares from the mothers who commented more than once about my son's politeness. For some reason they seemed to think that he was born with the polite gene that was initiated at birth and just grew more apparent as his vocabulary increased.

Did these other mothers not see the parenting that was going on? The reminders, the nudges, the eye-contact messages? My sons are polite, yes, and for that I am grateful. But, my sons are polite because their father and I have worked diligently on this particular aspect of child-rearing. We say please and thank you at home, out to dinner, at the grocery store, at Grandma's house, etc. It takes a lot of work to raise a polite child. It's downright exhausting! However, the end result is more than worth the work. I am extremely proud of my boys.

It's really not rocket science. Children learn by example. Do the parenting. Continue to do the parenting. Repeat the parenting lesson 50 times. And, get up the next morning and start all over again.

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