I’ve raised my kids to have manners. They say things like please, thank you, excuse me and you’re welcome. Those little words are important because they help our children become thoughtful, considerate adults, right? Maybe not.
I’ve discovered that there’s a difference between helping our kids develop a habit of saying the right words at the right times and teaching them to be thoughtful. For example, if my kids were thoughtful, they’d thank me for folding their clothes, grocery shopping, cooking, and cleaning. At the end of the day they’d say something like:
“Hey, Mom, thanks for doing the laundry, folding the clothes and taking care of me. I really mean it, Mom. I don’t want to do any of that stuff. You’re the best mom ever.” or
“Thanks for taking me to practice tonight, Mom. I know I treat you like a taxi service sometimes but I really appreciate you.”
I don’t know about your kids, but mine weren’t talking like that. Instead, they expected me to do those things because I always have…they thought those chores were part of my job description. They were unintentionally taking me for granted and sadly, it was my fault because I hadn’t taught them to be more thoughtful. I decided to change that.
I sat my boys down and we talked about their duties around the house. Currently they only have to keep their bathroom clean, rooms clean, take out the garbage, and get homework done. I suggested that they were old enough (16 and 14) to do their own laundry, make their own lunches and clean the kitchen. These ideas were met with quite a bit of resistance so I explained why I don’t like doing those jobs either. Then I suggested that showing more appreciation might make a big difference and I gave them examples of the things they could say (see examples above).
It’s been two weeks and I have to admit, life is good. My young men have expanded their manners beyond the auto-pilot responses of “please and thank you.” Of course, I’m wisely reinforcing their efforts my own words of appreciation. As we continue down this track, I’m hopeful my boys will turn into men who’ll be caring husbands, thoughtful friends, and leaders who appreciate the efforts of their employees.
Bottom line: Mindless manners are nice and we should keep them but thoughtfulness takes more effort. Why not start expressing sincere appreciation to the people who support your life?