Rude kidsI’m not vying to be the diva of refined social decorum, but it irks my last ever-lovin’ nerve when parents green light their kids’ bad manners for everybody else to deal with. Sometimes it’s an unconscious, just-didn’t-know-any-better faux pas. And those kinds of little social slips I can let slide with a raise of my eyebrow and a fleeting mental tsk tsk tsk.

But all too often, I’m bumping into this rampant breakdown of all things good, decent, and courteous, behavior that’s a real eff you to the certified home training parents and teachers used to insist on.

I was raised in a household where rudeness was not only unacceptable, it was dangerous. Breeze past an adult at home or church without saying ‘hello’ and see if you didn’t get yanked up by the back of your collar. So maybe I’m the only person noticing that good manners have taken a vacay while bad behavior kicks all hell loose on the streets.

6. Not covering coughs and sneezes. It just can’t get any more basic than this, but it’s a dying principle of interpersonal cleanliness. Little Miss Princess or Young Gentleman-in-Training should know how to raise the crook of their arm to their face to keep their personal germs ... personal. Launching a spray of funky snot and spit into the air from their uncovered nose or mouth is nasty, no matter how irresistibly adorable the kid is.

5. Allowing a first-name basis. If I, as an adult, have the wherewithal to address anyone who is obviously my mother’s age or older as ‘miss’ or ‘mister,’ there’s no reason why someone young enough to be my child should haul off and call me ‘Janelle.’ It’s a sign of respect that every adult should expect because we’re not our kids’ or their friends’ peers, hip and youthful as we might try to make ourselves out to be.

4. Failing to make them launch (out of their seat). This one grinds my nerves down to the root: not standing up for elderly people, pregnant women, and (for boys) women in general in any crowded seating area, particularly on public transportation. It’s a sad, sad state of affairs when an 80-year-old man with a cane or an about-to-bust lady with child struggles to find an available place to sit, only to end up standing next to some defiantly rude tweens or teenagers old enough to know better.

3. Thinking bad behavior is cute. So the little one has somehow added the F-word to their vocab, the tween is experimenting with how to slang four- and five-letter obscenities, or maybe they’ve mastered the fine art of inappropriate storytelling. Your reaction is to chuckle and show off their new trick when friends and family come over. It might be funny now (even though seriously, it’s not — just ask your kids’ teacher), but you won’t find it the least bit ha ha-worthy when they figure out how to fit those words into conversation with you. Nip it in the bud, please. For society’s sake.

2. Not teaching them to say ‘hello.' This may have been my mother’s number one blood boiler, so anyone I brought home who needed to be nudged into greeting her generally didn’t get a second invite to the Harris camp. But it’s true: it’s common courtesy to acknowledge someone when you see them (barring complete strangers), so if your kids are going to walk into somebody’s house or slide their tails into somebody’s car without so much as a ‘hi, howyadoin’?’” their rudeness will sure enough be the big ol’ pink elephant in the space.

1. Letting them run wild. Nobody but you thinks it’s cute that Little Earl almost knocked down five innocent shoppers while he was playing a solo game of hide 'n' seek in the racks at TJ Maxx. It’s too socially unacceptable to scold a complete stranger’s child for being unruly (even though I do it on a regular basis, so poo poo to social acceptability), but if you take control of the situation, there’s no need for manner-obsessed blogging mamas like myself to step in and do it. 

What are you manners must-haves? What pet peeves do you have that make you say, “Mannnnn, if that was my kid ...”?


Image via mdanys/Flickr