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Classic Etiquette: Teaching Children Manners

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NY Times: "Good manners," etiquette expert Amy Vanderbilt once said, "have much to do with the emotions. To make them ring true, one must feel them, not merely exhibit them."

But in order to feel or exhibit them, children have to learn them, and a new poll released by the Web site today hints that parents - particularly younger parents -- may be particularly determined to teach them. BabyCenter polled 1021 mothers, and 81 percent agreed that "it was more important than ever to teach children manners."

Why are manners newly important? The largest group of respondents said their main reason was "to give my kids a stronger moral compass to guide them in this 'freewheeling' world," the Web site says. The second reason on the list was parents' exposure to "other kids with bad behavior" -- making those parents determined that their own children never act like that. Coming in third was the belief that "increasing global competition makes me want to prepare my kids" for a competitive working world.

So what do these parents mean by good manners? The more popular answers were: treating adults with respect; saying please and thank you; sending handwritten thank-you notes for gifts; and not talking with your mouth full.

Linda Murray, editor in chief of BabyCenter, says the results are consistent with other signs that the youngest strata of parents "is actively taking control again."

"We are coming out of an era of child-led parenting," she says, a time when the philosophy was "feed her when she's hungry, let her sleep when she shows signs of being tired, let her call adults by their first names."

The average age of BabyCenter's readership is 27, and "they are a new generation of moms," Murray says. "They came up at a time when the world was more of a freewheeling place, and they see it as their job to give kids more of a grounding."

It is a goal Amy Vanderbilt would endorse. "Parents must get across the idea," she said, that "I love you always, but sometimes I do not love your behavior."

Is it only young parents that are concerned with good manners, or are we older folks on top of these things too? What are the most important rules of etiquette at your house? And what are your pet rude-child peeves?

Read more hot stories Moms Are Talking About.

next: Old Age Begins at 27
1 comments so far | Post a comment now
Ten Tees January 8, 2011, 2:44 PM

Interesting info! Nice reading. There’s one point to submit about tee shirts.

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