Welcome to the latest installment of "The Things that Lazy Parents Will Pay For." Yesterday, in the New York Times Home & Garden section: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/27/garden/eat-drink-be-nice-teaching-children-manners.html?hp&_r=0. Apparently manners and etiquette classes for children, some held in fancy restaurants, are becoming more and more popular. Says the article "These etiquette experts say that new approaches are needed because parents no longer have the stomach, time or know-how to play bad cop and teach manners. "
Really?? Hey parents, news flash: this is YOUR job! Stop outsourcing every part of parenting that is too difficult or time consuming for you to handle. Sure you can pay someone $285 to teach your kid how to be polite. And while you are at it , why not pay them to teach your kid how to walk, talk, eat, read, write, love, play...hell, why not just hire someone to do ALL the parenting for you??
I understand that parents are working long hours and are starved for time. But teaching manners is a natural thing that occurs during all kinds of every day interactions with your child, even if you are so busy working that they are only on weekends. Your kid puts his feet on the table? Tell him not to. He runs screaming through the supermarket? Teach him why he shouldn't. You are too busy to ever shop or eat a meal with your child? Well that is a whole other blog post.
Oh wait. The article says "“These days, you have to teach kids about return on investment,” said Robin Wells, the founder of Etiquette Manor in Coral Gables, Fla., which holds classes on etiquette for adults and children. When it comes to children, she said, long gone are the days when you could tell them that they have to behave a certain way “just because.”So, even as she imparts lessons about using forks and the importance of looking the waiter in the eye, she does so by framing the lessons in a constructively selfish way for the children. She often exhorts her young students: be polite to your mother because she’ll be happier, and if she’s happier, you’re happier."
Um, no. When my daughter and I are in public places like restaurants or on the subway I remind her to speak quietly and to be respectful of others' space. She has to stay in her seat during outside meals and we always bring lots of crayons and paper to help. And when she asks why she has to be quiet in a restaurant I explain to her that it is because the other people are trying to eat a peaceful meal. I tell her that they might not want to hear a noisy child while they are trying to talk to each other. And if she is still having trouble I threaten to take away the ice cream dessert. Then we draw a picture together while we enjoy our spaghetti. Was it always easy? Of course not, but that is called being a mom! My job is not just to teach her how to make me happy so she is happy. Rather, I want her to learn to respect others and be mindful of their feelings. We live in a society after all.
And by the way, in some situations "Because I said so" is a perfectly fine response. We have no problem telling our children to obey their teachers at school, without question, even if they don't want to. Why is it so unacceptable for them to treat mommy and daddy the same way?
I am not saying that it isn't important to let your kid be a kid. It is. Very important. So let them run, let them scream, let them jump on the bed, let them get dirty. But it is also important to teach them the appropriate way to behave in various social settings. Like a movie theater. Or a supermarket. Or a fancy restaurant. And guess what, Mama? This is YOUR job. It is part of what you signed up for when you decided to grow a tiny person inside your uterus. Stop paying other people to parent for you.
Hey, if you have $300 to burn I'd be happy to take it off your hands.