The Revival of Common Courtesy ~ Every Day Manners

“The cardinal principle of etiquette is thoughtfulness, and the guiding rule of thoughtfulness is the Golden Rule. If you always do unto others as you would have done unto you, it is likely that you will never offend, bore or intrude, and that your actions will be courteous and indeed thoughtful.” ~Emily Post

“Parents who insist that their children practice courtesy and good habits at home are doing them a great service, for these habits then become lifelong and the natural way to do things. It is then unlikely that they will ever embarrass themselves socially or in business, for their unconscious actions will reflect a well mannered person.” ~Emily Post

Need I say more? Evidently yes based on what I see in everyday life. Just this past weekend I observed at least a dozen occasions where this was NOT being practiced. When I was young I was taught to say please, thank you, I’m sorry, excuse me and a variety of other niceties that tend to make life more pleasant as well as show respect for my elders.

Though the reasons for many things has changed, the act of doing them has not. For example, in Victorian days a man escorting a woman on the street would walk on the street or curb side of the woman to keep her from being splashed by mud. These days, a man still does it, but now more for safety.

Social amenities are still in fashion despite women not being the frail creatures once thought. I know feminists everywhere will hate me, but I LIKE when my husband opens the door to a building or even our own car for me, stands when I leave the table at a nice restaurant, takes his hat off indoors or walks on the street side. After all these years we have developed an instinct for being courteous to each other. Our children were taught the same.

As a society we have wandered away from many day to day courtesies. We as parents have the responsibility to create the adults of tomorrow and that training begins at home. That is pure fact. I recently overheard a couple of moms out having lunch complaining about how their kids were not learning manners at school or in daycare. HELLO? I truly blame this on the parents. It is not up to the schools or daycare to teach the children manners. Many common courtesies are no longer practiced by many families and/or enforced by parents, but we as parents have the responsibility to make time in our lives to do just that; teach manners to our children, expect a certain level of courtesy from our children and adjust the bad habits before they get out of hand.

One of the examples of the need for everyday manners is on public transportation. Awhile back I was on a subway when a young mother carrying a baby got on as did an elderly gentleman with a cane. The car was full and not one man or teenager got up and offered their seat to either of them. I was embarrassed for us as a society!

There are some personal habits that should be addressed, but based on today’s casual acceptance I will only mention and then leave the interpretation to the reader: men removing hats indoors, slouching/posture in general, elbows on the table while eating, chewing with your mouth closed, belching/burping in public, women in dresses sitting in a ladylike manner, disposing of your gum appropriately, smoking in public, being a good neighbor, personal space/crowding and the list goes on and on.

I have seen many well behaved children and truly appreciate the effort their parents put into their training. I just get so disappointed that so many other parents are readily accepting less than acceptable in their lives as well as their children’s. The ME generation does NOT have to be here to stay. Hubby and I went out for a nice leisurely afternoon lunch today at a little restaurant we like to frequent. It is very quaint and scenic. Halfway through our lunch a young family came in (the kids were about 2 and 5). Mom and dad sat at the bar and ordered a drink leaving the kids to wander. HELLO?? The 2 year old wanted something the 5 year old had and when she didn’t get it started a tantrum that the parents were ignoring and the rest of us were enduring. NO ONE said anything! I was beside myself. Normally I would have been pissed, but not said anything. Today was not normal – I had a splitting headache and was just beginning to relax when this all occurred. I calmly walked over to the parents and asked if they wouldn’t mind taking the little girl outside to calm her down. They were quite insulted by MY nerve as they put it. I told them I was insulted by their nerve. They were clueless!! I actually had to spell it out for them that while everyone was trying to endure their little girl’s tantrum, it was not our responsibility to do so. We were all out spending our hard earned money on a relaxing day which did not include providing daycare for them as their children ran around unsupervised.

While there are even more situations we could address because our entire life is full of them (strangers, prejudice, those with handicaps, unexpected visitors, hospitals, church services, etc… the ultimate rule of thumb is and always will be the Golden Rule for ALL situations.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

How were you taught everyday manners?

How should manners be introduced in everyday life?

At what point do you insist on good manners from children?


I totally agree with you Tamy. It amazes me how some parents will let their kids run wild and not teach manners along the way. I can remember a time when those were the few, not they are at least 50/50 if not the majority. Then again, look at many adults today – the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Tamy Bollar

I SO so agree Martha. The adults are sometimes worse. I am so tired of the “what’s in it for me” era.