Are manners a thing of the past?

christi's picture

Do parents teach their children manners anymore? Actually, do parents OF children even use manners themselves?

Nearly every time I go out to eat, I end up sitting next to some kid eating and smacking with their mouth wide open. It's loud smacking and 'able to see the food in their mouths' wide open. The parents don't even notice it! Some of the parents are smacking right along with them! Hello????? Hasn't this always been an obvious and always regarded bad manner? Why haven't these parents (of teenage boys especially) taught and enforced any semblance of decorum? Is it not important anymore? Is it because they have no manners themselves? Is it because they are some of the many yankee transplants and don't have the same regard for this sort of etiquette? (Sorry, yankees, but those of you that I've encountered are, for the most part, quite rude.)

This is the south! What happened to "yes, ma'am" and "no, sir"? My children are the only ones that say "ma'am" and "sir" that I even know of! Southern manners were once something that distinguished southerners from other people of the country. We were proud of our manners and the way we respected our elders!

I remember when I moved to Florida when I was little, my friends parents always gaped at me with their mouths hanging open after I answered their questions with a "sir" or "ma'am". (Florida is not the true south, doncha know. That state may as well be up north.)

Maybe manners, along with morals, are no longer politically correct and therefore not necessary anymore? Or is it simply that we have become lazy?

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Submitted by swmbo on Sat, 01/27/2007 - 11:38pm.


I understand your frustration with the general acceptance of poor manners. These days, I am especially appreciative of fine manners . . . the hand-written thank you note . . . pausing to let someone else pass by . . . pouring tea or coffee into the empty cup of your dining companion . . . holding the door for someone following behind you.

I have concluded that parents, in an attempt to spend "quality time" (whatever that means) with their children without incurring the cost of retaining a sitter, no longer insist that their children have minimally mastered restaurant manners such as the proper use of a fork and knife. Rather, they bring their children to restaurants whose concept really isn't suited to the immature. Moreover, modern parents are concerned with being their child's "friend"; so, their children are not corrected very often for fear of losing the child's friendship.

Yes, it certainly seems like the ranks of the well-bred are shrinking daily. My practice is to be the model of good manners; those who are inclined to want to do better usually get the subtle hint. I am, however, mindful that, while good manners are certainly important, one who is gracious would never criticize the social faux pas of those pitiable creatures who lack them. After all, their poor manners are not directed at me, personally. They don't know that they don't know that they don't know.

If you and I are always in agreement, one of us is likely armed and dangerous.

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Submitted by christi on Sun, 01/28/2007 - 4:20pm.

The purpose of my post is really very simple. I was hoping that some of the parents of children without manners, and the parents without manners themselves, would somehow see this post and think. "Hmmm, maybe we need to work on this. I hadn't realized what we were doing." Or maybe even new parents could see it and make it a point to teach their children these social graces that seem to be passing away. If the blog seemed critical, I'm a little bit sorry, but not much to tell you the truth. This irritates me so I had a hard time putting it in a very nice way. Eye-wink

Submitted by mick613 on Sat, 01/27/2007 - 1:26pm.

It's also rude to point out the faults of others.

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Submitted by christi on Sat, 01/27/2007 - 1:52pm.

I wasn't pointing out anyone's faults. A fault would be some type of defect which isn't easily corrected. Manners are something entirely different which people are choosing to not use, thereby effecting people around them! Such as my getting nauseous and unable to enjoy my food because I can see the mushed up food swirling around in another's mouth! THAT I have every right to point out.

Submitted by mick613 on Sat, 01/27/2007 - 9:44pm.

Okay, fine. I won't use the word 'faults.' How about 'habits?' It's impolite to point out the HABITS of others. Is that better?

Yes, people chew with their mouth open. Unless you go over there and physically force their mouth shut, you can't do anything about it. Yes, you can complain. But, try as much as you like, complaining about manners is not going to change them. And if you don't like seeing someone chewing with their mouth open, DON'T LOOK AT THEM! It's as simple as that.

Submitted by GloriaG on Sat, 01/27/2007 - 12:30pm.

Being a GRITS (Girl Raised in the South) member, I have to comment on your musings. When I dine out I pay attention to my dinner companions and certainly don't concern myself with how others not in my party are chewing their food. It's rude to stare and not a bit Southern.

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Submitted by christi on Sat, 01/27/2007 - 1:47pm.

Somehow in your southern brain, you have gathered that I stare. Can you not gather from my post that I have manners and therefore would never stare? So how do I know these ingrates are chewing with their mouths open? The loud smacking in my ear from the next table. So before you go and attack another southern girl, think about that which you speak!

Submitted by GloriaG on Sat, 01/27/2007 - 2:27pm.

My post wasn't meant as an attack, but rather a gentle reminder not to be so judgemental to others.

Submitted by dollaradayandfound on Sat, 01/27/2007 - 1:00pm.

Manners mean about as much to most foreign people who are here as they do to a dog. Northern manners are different than southern manners, also.
Watch a hispanic pick up a baby's pacifier off the floor, lick it, and give it back to the kid! Yuck!
Loudness while drinking is also perfectly ok. Even pinching a pretty waitress is ok.
Always allowing the other fellow to go first at a stop sign is unheard of in some places.
Manners are defined by money, I think.

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Submitted by chippie on Sat, 01/27/2007 - 9:31am.

christi: your children aren't the only ones who were taught, and say, "yes, ma'am or yes, sir," mine say it, too. If fact, I do notice a majority of their friends say this, too. I think of it as a sign of respect and find a blunt "yes" response, especially from a child to an adult, usually sounds rude.

I couldn't agree with you more on the chewing with the mouth closed, too. I've noticed it's not unusual for a whole family to chew that way. Afterwards, I wonder if they've ever thought about why they burp and belch so much. Can they make the connection between chewing with their mouths open and swallowing all that air? It's got to come out one way or another!

Are you a stickler for guys removing their baseball caps or hats before eating? That falls into the Manners catagory for me, too.

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Submitted by christi on Sat, 01/27/2007 - 9:43am.

Ha ha ha, you made me laugh because yes, I think men should take their hats off at the table. Except I have had to get used to that unfortunately. My husband is one of those men that always wears a hat. (He has a thing about his hair. He doesn't like it.) Anyway, he doesn't always wear a hat to a restaurant, and does take his hat off at the table at home, but is too embarassed to take it off in public. Oh, well. We can't have it all. Smiling

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Submitted by chippie on Sat, 01/27/2007 - 10:11am.

I had to laugh at your reply . . . my husband does takes his cap off at the table, but he wishes he just had hair!! LOL

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Submitted by christi on Sat, 01/27/2007 - 10:24am.

Oh, this is funny. When we first started dating, I was convinced that he didn't have hair because I NEVER saw him without a hat. So, the first chance I got, after he fell asleep, I slowly reached my hand over to the top of his head and there it was! A head full of hair. I was like "wheew" *wiping forehead*. I was only 23 at the time and really wasn't ready to date a bald man. Shallow I know.....

Submitted by susieq on Sat, 01/27/2007 - 7:48am.

There are a few of us in the south who still have manners, but usually we eat at home because we don't like being around the rift-raft. I realize we have to live in this world and work in this world and tolerate the rudeness of others, but there is no reason we have to eat out and spoil our meal. One thing I have observed is that people who have manners are usually good cooks.

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Submitted by SouthernBelle on Sat, 01/27/2007 - 1:53pm.

You are so right, I have excellent manners, and if I may say so, I've never had anything but compliments about my cooking! I have my "other bible" "The Joy of Cooking" and I USE it!

SouthernBelle, GRACE is a VIRTUE

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