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We live in the 21st century and all we can count on is that our world will change and change rapidly. Most parents get stressed out just thinking of all they have to do on a given day. But I have one more task to add: be nice to each other.

Never has it been more important to observe the niceties of human interaction–another description of manners. This is true at home and out in the world.

Because we are social animals who cannot get along in this complex world by ourselves; we need other members of our species around. Manners help keep us from hurting each other so we can remain together.

There is already a ParenTip on the site dealing with manners under CONTEMPORARY PARENTING ISSUES. Let’s consider that which deals with how to teach manners to your children Manners I and this Manners II which is about how YOU behave in today’s world. Remember your kids are watching!


It’s a busy, fast-paced world out there. Most of us, when asked how we are answer , “Busy!” But that does not give any of us the right to take out our stress on another person. As a matter of fact the calmer we all act when driving, marketing, and waiting in line the easier it is to handle our stress. In other words you can feel rushed inside but still take the time to smile and let someone go ahead of you in line or on the road. The smile or wave you get back actually helps you feel better. We all are in a better emotional state when we are smiled at then when we are confronted with a frown or the finger.

But the most important aspect of behaving well under pressure or stress is that your children see this. When you model good modern manners your children are more likely to behave well themselves. If everyone did this we might change the world!

Learn the delicate art of not venting your anger on others either in person, by letter or email, or on the phone. For me, after years of practicing this art, the angrier I am getting the calmer I seem on the outside. Why? It gets me further than a confrontation or the most clever of sarcastic comments will. The way to assuage your anger is to get what you want. The way to get what your want is to be nice so the other person wants to give you what you want. Never post any letter or email when you are angry. Leave it on your desk or in your “Drafts” folder until the next morning. This not only saves face it could save your job!


I wrote a newsletter last July, called “CELL PHONES AND PARENTING” mostly to point out how deprived a child can feel when a parent is constantly on the cell phone. I have to reinforce that after a trip to the mall yesterday. I saw one mom feeding her baby, who was in a stroller, a bottle with one hand while talking on her cell phone with the other. Babies should be held when they are fed and talked to and looked at. But this mother was frowning and for all I knew was talking to a relative who was ill. So I gave her the benefit of the doubt and smiled at the baby. But then I began to see a veritable army of mothers (and one father) pushing a stroller while talking on the cell phone. I confess to eavesdropping once or twice and the conversations seemed to be about trivial matters. A couple of the babies were sleeping and I gave the parents a pass.

But let me say this as strongly as I can: parents should pay attention to their kids! Not every moment, of course, but at least sometimes. Some of these ignored babies were crying, some were squirming and looked bored, one was eating the paper off a package of crackers. These were not egregious parenting errors but I was bothered by the fact that none of these parents were making this a teachable moment and TALKING TO THEIR CHILD about the trip to the mall. They could have been pointing out colors and letters on signs and other little kids and the seeing-eye dog that went by.

Cell phones belong in your pocket not glued to your ear. When a friend calls and you are with your toddler in the mall say nicely you are busy. You ARE busy, you are with your child and you have lots of talking to do in person not into your cell phone.

Cell phones should not be used or left on to ring in public places like restaurants or stores. It is distracting to hear a phone ring and some loud rings should be outlawed. If you forget and your phone does ring, your response should be, “I can’t talk now, I will call you back.”and then turn the danged thing off. Public space is just that: for everyone. Everyone deserves peace and quiet.