A few years ago, a restaurant owner in Chicago caused an uproar by posting a sign that read:
Children of all ages have to behave and use their indoor voices.
I wouldn’t think anyone needs a sign to state the obvious, but in this age of permissive parenting, they do. Offended mothers mounted a boycott! They were shocked that anyone would dare insinuate their children didn’t have every right to climb onto the counter and start waving salt shakers over their heads.
Their contention? Perhaps it’s a display of their individuality through creative dance, and besides, "it makes little Taylor happy."
Too often we expect others to do as we say and not as we do. Dinner service in a crowded restaurant is slow, and you snap at the waiter. You’re running out the door when the phone rings; so you grab it and say, “What do you want? I’m busy.” Do you treat friends and strangers with equal consideration?
Even if your manners are generally good, everyone slips from time to time, which gives parents the chance to highlight their own mistakes in front of their children, own up to them, and say how they will change their behavior in the future. If we model good manners, our children will be quick studies.
My own children haven’t always been angels, but when they err I immediately point it out and have them correct their behavior. At times I have made them apologize to the people that might have been bothered by their behavior. Because of that, there are numerous times on airplanes and in restaurants where employees will actually thank my husband and me for having such well-behaved children. I actually think this highlights the plight of manners in our society. I constantly have to correct their manners, and the thought that they are better than most is pretty scary!
While punishing bad behavior is necessary, there should also be a focus on acknowledging good behavior. One waitress came to our table and, in front of our children, detailed the bad behavior and poor manners of children who had been at a nearby table. She then thanked our children for behaving so well.
I think it really made an impact on them to hear it from someone else. They realized that good manners do matter to more people than just their parents! (And what do parents know anyway?) That said, it’s just as important to hear it from Mom and Dad.
E.D. Hill is a FOX News Channel host and author of "I'm Not Your Friend, I'm Your Parent." She has eight children. Click here to read more about E.D.'s new book.