Some of us have seen the pictures a 15-year-old youngster took of a wedding reception brawl in a hotel lobby The uncle of one of the wedding party died of a heart attack, for goodness sake. Some of us wonder what is going on with the younger generation? Didn’t anyone teach them manners, respect for others and constraint?
But what about older adults? We see people being rude to servers in restaurants and personnel who work at pharmacies. Others report of people pushing in line with carts and electric scooters, belching and making other rude noises, and complaining about everything and everyone. There are adult tantrums and folks acting as if they own the world and everything in it. Wait! We aren’t talking about children. The older adults are doing this!
We have to take the heat for our own bad manners and of the younger generation. We need to take responsibility for not role modeling good behavior.
Those one-room schoolhouses and small schools were a place to learn taking your turn and looking out for others. Many of us had live-in grandparents who took the time to not only teach us to cook, knit and fish but also table manners, civility and a certain amount of graciousness that our folks didn’t have time to show us.
We can mind our manners and reflect civility wherever and whenever we interact with others. Just because we are older, does not give us the right to be rude. No one owes us anything, folks.
Maybe younger ones are so stressed by modern life they are unable to deal with disappointment and not having it their way. Did we skip the lesson to our kids that life can be full of sadness, conflict, delayed gratification, and most importantly, failure?
We can help with the frustrating events of modern life and soften the blows by interacting with our grandkids and kids by being really present in their lives. We can talk to them and assure them their conversations are confidential. We can interact with young people by respecting their opinion and their concerns. From my own experience, I know that young people want rules and boundaries to help them weave their way through sometimes scary times. Be sure to acknowledge courtesy and good manners each and every time you see it.
It starts with our families and helping our kids help their kids learn manners. We can step in and explain to our grandkids that life does come with disappointment, loss, strife and failure. We can soften that blow by telling them examples of ourselves or others who persevered, took a breath and waited, and knew they might not win each and every time.
We must stop believing that we all need to be first every single time.
In some very primitive cultures, there are established standards how young people will behave toward their elders and others in the social and family setting. Adults correct others’ children without fear of recrimination. Their survival depends on it.
Maybe we are not as sophisticated or advanced as we think. Maybe we need to see civility as a way to live safer and with more fun.
Oh yes, and don’t forget to be kind ...
Nedda Simon of rural Princeton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.