when to start with manners? - Page 3 - Mothering Forums

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Old 12-10-2005, 12:15 PM
 
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Tinkerbell,

I don't disagree with the process that you suggested in your last post. That is modelling. 'Oh, thank you, that is nice' coming from the parent is genuine appreciation spoken for the gift. I certainly can appreciate the effort or offer of someone else for creating joy (or attempting to create joy) for another. Just as I am appreciative of all the MDC mamas who are Helper Mamas for the MIN. There have been many people expressing gratitude in the Holiday Helper thread for the efforts that others have made, not on their own behalf, but because others showed they cared. (Personally, I don't like the judgement laden word "nice" at all. I frankly think it is too generic to be sincere.)****[How is that for working in a plug for the MIN? ]

Authentic appreciation for gifts (and efforts of others) is something that I have worked to distinguish from my family of origin's practice of gifts 'having strings attached', since gifts were held as rewards, bargaining chips, tools of coercion even. I am very aware and emphatic that gifting and gratitude be genuine for me. Both as the gift giver and the gift getter. I don't give a gift for the benefit I will reap. Rather for the potential joy of the reciever, without expectation of a debt due for my effort. True gifting comes from the heart, not with an invoice for gratitude, in my opinion. And coming from the heart is the basis of authenticity that is critical in my relationships with others. Something that I hold dearer than propriety. I am not "propriety be damned", but I am not going to act at the expense of being true to myself either. Yes, it is that big a deal. Each little act of self-denial of one's own true self is cutting away and replacing the authentic person with a facade.

I also believe that Respect is treating others how they wish to be treated. Not only treating others as we would like to be treated. And it is important to me to treat others with Respect. So, I don't consider it disingenuous to use extraordinary propriety when that is important to others. But, not at the expense of authenticity. Learning how to balance being true to myself and Respect for others concurrently is something that I believe that children can 'teach' us. Rather than the other way around. Most adults have so much less authenticity than children, that children are our models of "decent human beings", in my opinion. I don't believe that we need "to raise them to be decent human beings", I am awed that they are such innocent, open and loving beings already.

Children learn to treat people with disrespect, if that is how they are treated. And many, many are treated with disrespect (not treated as they wish to be treated.) And furthermore, others expect children to act inauthentically (not true to themselves, ie. treating themselves with disrespect). So, our culture molds and teaches children to be less decent human beings than they inherently are from my observations. My main goal is to learn to be more authentic, and our son provides me with ample opportunities to practice this while treating him with respect concurrently. He is my most decent model of humanity and all that the human spirit can share with others. Innocence, openness, honesty, authenticity and loving acceptance. It is the adults who need to learn from the children.

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Old 12-10-2005, 12:43 PM
 
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i did really poorly with "manners" when i was a kid.

i remember teachers scolding me for yawing in their faces, not covering my nose when i sneezed, slurping soup at lunch, not saying excuse me when burping or gassing, using please, thank you, taking turns etc.

i remember going to a boyfriend's house when i was in college and his grandmother snapping at me to take my elbows off the table. i had no idea that when you are eating a formal dinner you didn't do that.

i chalk it up to the fact thatvery little of it was modeled in my home. my parents were very disrespectful to my brother and i. their parenting philosopy was "never give a child what he/she needs or wants."

i also never learned other really basic stuff, like brushing my teething, taking a shower, picking my dishes up after a meal or putting my clothes in the hamper after getting undressed. why? i have no idea. my father bathed everyday. my mother did not and still doesn't. i think it was just a basic disconnect that happened. there was very poor modeling and no follow through. my father would scream "YOU'RE ALL SLOBS!" and then that would be it.

so, i think that there is something to be said for modeling and also some concrete follow-through.

my son will whine: "gimmie dat!" and i say "give me that please mommy" while reaching for it and giving it to him.

sometimes he's great with "manners" and sometimes he's conan the barbarian. we don't scold him when he's rude, we just model the "polite" behavior for him. sometimes when he does something really rude, i'll say "it's polite to _______." and leave it at that.

while i don't want him to feel bad for slip ups, i also don't want him to feel mortified when he is 8 that he didn't know to cover his mouth when yawing or to say excuse me when he bumps into someone. i want him to be prepared to function in the world better than i was and some of that may take some direct instruction, and don't think that is punitive or controling.

just my .02.





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Old 12-10-2005, 04:00 PM
 
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The thing that is striking about this thread is that I get the idea that people seem to think someone is on the side of not teaching manners. No one is suggesting that children should not learn manners. The only thing at issue here is how that is achieved.

It does not have to be pay me now or pay me later with this. An alternative method of teaching manners is consistent modeling while not shaming. If you remember how you felt when being scolded and/or later embarrassed by not knowing the "rules", then wouldn't you have perferred to have learned without the negative feelings attached to those methods? That is what I want for my child.

Where some of the argument seems to be is that some people think it is the lessor of two evils to shame the children early on to save them the embarrassment later on in life when they are supposed to know these things. Children feel everything more potently than adults. My opinion is that children feel the shame of being "caught" so much more powerfully than a 20 year old. It is not the lessor of two evils to give them this experience. But again, my main point is that both evils can be avoided while teaching children manners. For example, if this message offends one's personal belief system to the point of discomfort then the problem is you are probably feeling shamed and you don't like it, and if it has to happen then I'd rather an adult feel embarrassed - in a fair fight - than their helpless child.

Quote:
Originally Posted by scubamama
I don't believe that we need "to raise them to be decent human beings", I am awed that they are such innocent, open and loving beings already.

Children learn to treat people with disrespect, if that is how they are treated. And many, many are treated with disrespect (not treated as they wish to be treated.) And furthermore, others expect children to act inauthentically (not true to themselves, ie. treating themselves with disrespect). So, our culture molds and teaches children to be less decent human beings than they inherently are from my observations.
This stands out as ringing particularly true for me. Thanks for posting this.
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Old 12-10-2005, 04:37 PM
 
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There are 2 variables here people aren't really talking about ... First, in a brand-new situation, kids don't always KNOW how to act, and there's no way for you to model. I think coaching (reminding?) is good in that situation. Preferably before-hand, but you can't anticipate every new situation beforehand. Like the PP who talked about living in a new culture - sometimes being told what's appropriate is useful. Not the same as nagging or coercing IMO.

The second is, who is modeling for our kids? At very early ages, yes, maybe it's only you, or it's a very small circle of caretakers. But by age 3 or 4 kids will also copy neighbors, friends, relatives, characters from TV/movies ... My own child is still an infant, but I helped my sister raise 2, and there were times it was IMPORTANT to say clearly "We don't do things that way. In our family, we do this." (ie, when they deliberately wanted to try new behaviors - snatching toys, rude language, "Talk to the hand!" etc).

Just want to make the point - modeling is the bedrock, but it isn't the end-all be-all blanket solution. Sooner or later mamas do need other tools. And then language (reminders or explanations) can be a non-damaging teaching tool, too.
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Old 12-10-2005, 05:34 PM
 
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Goiod point, crescentaluna--and it goes along with what I believe about how it is my job to teach my child about the social customs I value.

Quote:
I believe that part of raising our children to be decent human beings is to teach them that sometimes, they might receive a gift that they do not like or want. But, the giver went to the trouble to pick/make/obtain that gift for them, and that the child should express thanks regardless, and not express direct displeasure, because that might hurt the other person's feelings.
I agree.

One family within my larger family has not done much with teaching "gift manners." It may be somewhat cultural--the mother comes from a country without our tradition of holiday giving and is still sort of mystified by the whole present "thing." They have not taught their children (now 5 and 13) to politely thank a gift giver even when a gift is not quite right. What you see when the children open gifts is their "true self," I suppose--which means that many times they have opened gifts from us and made faces, said they didn't like the gift or put them aside in obvious disdain. Yes, I am the grown-up, but I can tell you that it is not a heart-warming thing to encounter. They also do not write thank-you notes--ever.

I really am all for authenticity in many, many situations. But I don't want that to be my child.

I also emphatically do not believe that my two-year-old is embarrassed by my mildly encouraging her to say "Thank you." I know my child, and I just don't think so. Actually, I don't think she even feels embarrassment yet. An older child--yes, it's certainly possible, but I think the reminding can be done subtlely. I like the "code word" idea.

I think some posters are being a bit dramatic with their use of the word "shaming," anyway. I still don't see why reminding a child to thank someone is automatically shaming her and destroying her personhood while reminding her not to yell in a restaurant is not. I think we are putting more adult ideas about shame and social embarrassment on children than most young children actually have. I am not a fan of the "Would I want someone to do it to ME?" argument, generally. I wouldn't want someone to remind me to thank someone, no. I also wouldn't want someone to tell me to keep my voice down in a restaurant, or to ask that I hold their hand in a parking lot or be carried, or...I am not a child, and my child is not an adult. This is not a "better than" judgment--but we are different.

By the way, I have no problem with occasional "insincerity for the potential people pleasing benefit," in the right cause. As someone else pointed out, most of us do it from time to time. ("What a beautiful baby!") I would far rather my child told a white lie to Grandma about her gift ("I really like the crocheted shawl--thanks!") than that she hurt Grandma's feelings by making a face and not writing a thank-you. I really would. This may be a difference of values. I DO actually believe that not thanking people imposes on others and hurts others just as screaming at the symphony does.

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Old 12-10-2005, 06:04 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aira

Where some of the argument seems to be is that some people think it is the lessor of two evils to shame the children early on to save them the embarrassment later on in life when they are supposed to know these things.
i certainly hope you don't think i was implying this. i never said a think about shaming. and i don't think it shaming to ask my son to go upstairs if he decides he needs to play with his penis in the living room while company is over. i have not told him there was naything dirty or worng with it, simply that it is not polite to do that when company is over. while his father certianly doesn't model that kind of behavior for him, my son engages in all kinds of "rude" behavior that is not modeled for him.

while i feel that i have raised my son in a somewhat feral way, i do think that it is my job to help him "get" certain aspects of respecting other's boundaries and social norms. and i stongly believe this can be done without shaming him or him becoming a social misfit.

"Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this, too, was a gift." -- Mary Olivercoolshine.gif

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Old 12-10-2005, 06:34 PM
 
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Where some of the argument seems to be is that some people think it is the lessor of two evils to shame the children early on to save them the embarrassment later on in life when they are supposed to know these things
Coming late to this conversation... Just want to say that I don't think gentle reminders are shaming. I hear that you do. My 4 year old boy is really very consistent with his pleases and thankyous, but when he forgets, I remind him. Gently, quietly and without judgement (i.e. more of a 'when someone gives me something I like to...' than a 'what's the magic word??'). He is extremely verbal and very emotionally literate, and I don't get the feeling that he feels at all shamed by these encounters. Most of the time he reacts like someone who clearly forgot something ("Oh, yeah! Thanks, Aunt So-and-so!").

I do think there needs to be a balance between good manners and healthy assertive sincerity. Meaning, I never want a kid who chooses manners over safety in a situation where s/he should say, "Leave me alone, creep!", nor do I want a child to feel like his/her authentic voice is not valued. My boy recently had a birthday, and his Aunties gave him a guitar, a whoopie cushion and some fake poop (). He is your typical bodily-fuction-obsessed 4 year old, so they thought he'd have fun with these things. Turns out the poop kind of disappointed him, even though he saw the comic potential in leaving it on someone's chair or something like that. When we wrote a thank you card to them, he dictated, "Thank you, Kelli and Stacy for the presents... I didn't really like getting the poop, but thanks for it anyway. The guitar I bring out every time there's rock and roll on the radio, and I made Auntie Linda sit on the fart pad over and over. It was funny." I didn't have any problem with him being honest about the gift, and neither did they. The whole thing was rather hilarious, actually.

Now, we can all debate whether or not I am truly teaching my child good manners with fake poop and a whoopie cushion.
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Old 12-10-2005, 08:17 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aira
Well, Yooper gave a nice explanation, but I'll add my thoughts... It's embarrassing beacuse it puts the child on the spot and call attention to their "failing".

This is all about the meaning content of words, and communication in general. I'll give a scenario. You remind a young DS to say "Thank You" to Grandma for, let's say, a very itchy sweater that she knitted him. He's not feeling all that grateful for it - b/c it hurts and she wants him to wear it all day - but is told to express gratitude anyway. He learns that "Thank You" is essentially a meaningless phrase, and that when you and dad "model" it, you're really just saying meaningless words too. Either he will resent being made to express thoughts that are not his, or he'll just do it and his ability to actually foster feelings of gratitude will be hampered. Maybe both. The point is that language usage helps form our thinking patterns, and misused language clutters and harms our ability to think a certain way - like having actual gratitude.

Another way to handle that situation would be that, when Grandma gives DS the sweater, you say "Thank you for thinking of DS. It was very kind of you. I'll keep it for him for a special snow day." That helps DS save face, gives him an out, so that he feel like you're on his side. It places no onus on DS to be grateful when he's not, but gives him the language pathways to start feeling that Grandma was actually showing kindness. Grandma gets thanked, and it's a positive interaction.

My post before is that if you are embarrassing DC (please let us know if Yooper's post didn't explain that enough...), it is essentially rude, and models rudeness instead of politeness. Your DC gets really mixed messages. Basically that politeness is phoney because it sure feels rude to them. So you can't both correct behavior and model politeness.

Hope that explains my position well enough...

ETA: I want to second everything in post #26. Yooper is spot on there too!
I think I understand your opinion better now. Thank you!
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Old 12-10-2005, 08:28 PM
 
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Originally Posted by loraxc
I really am all for authenticity in many, many situations. But I don't want that to be my child.
So you want you child(ren) to be authentic and true to themselves, so long as what they express is acceptable to everyone else? Do I have that right?


What's the problem with allowing them to develop authentic gratitude and authentic empathy?

Why is it presupposed that a child acting with authenticity must necessarily always be impolite?

When I hear "I know my child, and s/he doesn't feel embarrassment yet," I certainly question whether you have ever ventured outside the cultural paradigm that tells you that to be the case. It sounds to me like your "knowing" your child is likely shaded somewhat by expectation.

The whole nutshell of my point(s) is that we owe them the opportunity to be authentically polite. It's not impossible, no matter how much you say it is. Insincerity is not a requisite for politeness. That's true even if you can't or won't see it. It's possible to live in a constant state of loving gratitude - regardless of circumstance.


ETA: OneCatholicMommy, I'm glad I was able to explain my thoughts. Hope they can be of help somehow...
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Old 12-10-2005, 10:39 PM
 
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Hmm. I always find it a little funny when people are so incredibly critical of each other on the GD board...

Quote:
So you want you child(ren) to be authentic and true to themselves, so long as what they express is acceptable to everyone else?
Quite a leap to make, wouldn't you say? No. I think there are situations in life where the kind, polite and considerate thing to do is to thank someone, say something nice about something, etc., even if at times it is not always sincere. As my child(ren) get older I am sure I will explain the concept of the "little white lie" and will also try to make it clear that it is the spirit of the gift or kind impulse that counts, not necessarily its material manifestation. What makes you think children are not sophisticated and empathic enough to understand *this*? Turn it on its head for a moment...

Quote:
Why is it presupposed that a child acting with authenticity must necessarily always be impolite?
I never said this, either. Of course I don't think this. A child will like some presents, and not like others. A child will feel grateful many times, but may not understand why something is worthy of gratitude at others, and may need to be reminded. Even as an adult I sometimes have to remind myself that someone was *trying* to be kind and considerate when they did XYZ.

As to whether or not I know my own child...I suppose we'll just have to differ on that particular point.

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Old 12-11-2005, 12:55 AM
 
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I wasn't intending to be critical. I apologize if my directness was too strong. I was articulating what I got out of this:

Quote:
Originally Posted by loraxc
I suppose--which means that many times they have opened gifts from us and made faces, said they didn't like the gift or put them aside in obvious disdain. Yes, I am the grown-up, but I can tell you that it is not a heart-warming thing to encounter. They also do not write thank-you notes--ever.

I really am all for authenticity in many, many situations. But I don't want that to be my child.
If I misunderstood, then what is it that you do want for your child? I got that you value authenicity, but not over people-pleasing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by loraxc
I would far rather my child told a white lie to Grandma about her gift ("I really like the crocheted shawl--thanks!") than that she hurt Grandma's feelings by making a face and not writing a thank-you. I really would. This may be a difference of values. I DO actually believe that not thanking people imposes on others and hurts others (snip)
If people-pleasing is more important to you than authenticity, then we'll just have to differ on this. I'm being authentic here, I understand you don't find it pleasant. But if I undertsand your value system, shouldn't you be placating me?

---

On to a different point... I still question the validity of your assertion that 2 year olds don't really experience embarrassment, but someday will be cognizant of the parental slight, per the following two quotes:

Quote:
Originally Posted by loraxc
DD is not even two--you really think she is feeling hurt dignity when I ask her if she can say "Thank you"? I don't think she has that kind of an understanding yet, honestly.
Quote:
Originally Posted by loraxc
Actually, I don't think she even feels embarrassment yet. An older child--yes, it's certainly possible
From my person experience, I caught myself unintentionally embarrassing DS (just about 1 year old) just by telling a cute story about something he did, and stopped to apologize. But don't take my word for it, there are plently of books about this. I would recommend Alice ******.

---

No one is disputing the following:

Quote:
Originally Posted by loraxc
A child will feel grateful many times, but may not understand why something is worthy of gratitude at others, and may need to be reminded.
What is in quesion is the method of reminding. And even the expectation that children should perform flawlessly in acting insincere.

---

Quote:
Originally Posted by loraxc
Quote:
Originally Posted by aira
Why is it presupposed that a child acting with authenticity must necessarily always be impolite?

I never said this, either. Of course I don't think this.
OK, well I got the impression that you thought this from:

Quote:
Originally Posted by loraxc
They have not taught their children (now 5 and 13) to politely thank a gift giver even when a gift is not quite right. What you see when the children open gifts is their "true self,"
Maybe I can make my point more easily by approaching this from an inverse of my statement - which would be something like: Why is it presupposed that children expressing gratitude must be acting insincerely?

If you don't agree with the original, I assume that you wouldn't buy into the inverse, and therefore you don't need the little white lies you mentioned here:

Quote:
Originally Posted by loraxc
I think there are situations in life where the kind, polite and considerate thing to do is to thank someone, say something nice about something, etc., even if at times it is not always sincere. As my child(ren) get older I am sure I will explain the concept of the "little white lie" (snip)
---

Quote:
Originally Posted by loraxc
Even as an adult I sometimes have to remind myself that someone was *trying* to be kind and considerate when they did XYZ.
Then it sounds like you're striving for this too:

Quote:
Originally Posted by aira
It's possible to live in a constant state of loving gratitude - regardless of circumstance.
Kudos to you! I applaud you in your efforts.

---

And since this seems to still be a remaining question:

Quote:
Originally Posted by loraxc
I still don't see why it is okay to gently guide children to behave in socially acceptable ways in some situations (being quiet in a restaurant) but not in others (saying thank you for an unliked gift).
And:

Quote:
Originally Posted by loraxc
I still don't see why reminding a child to thank someone is automatically shaming her and destroying her personhood while reminding her not to yell in a restaurant is not.
I gave many examples, but what resolves the surface level inconsistenty is:

Quote:
Originally Posted by aira
I don't call attention to their faults. Period.
It is a common element in my interactions with my DC.

It all in how it's handled - not that it gets handled.

This is central to my entire point.
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Old 12-11-2005, 01:10 AM
 
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Originally Posted by loraxc
By the way, I have no problem with occasional "insincerity for the potential people pleasing benefit," in the right cause. As someone else pointed out, most of us do it from time to time. ("What a beautiful baby!") I would far rather my child told a white lie to Grandma about her gift ("I really like the crocheted shawl--thanks!") than that she hurt Grandma's feelings by making a face and not writing a thank-you. I really would. This may be a difference of values. I DO actually believe that not thanking people imposes on others and hurts others just as screaming at the symphony does.
I agree with this so much. I think you are doing your children a disservice by not teaching them this. For a number of reasons my youngest sister never learned very good manners, and it causes her LOTS of problems. She's lost jobs and friends because of her inability to inauthentically express some social niceties. Whether it's because she doesn't have the habits, the skills, or the desire, I don't know for sure, but I do know that she often isn't aware that she's offending people. At least that's been the case with my husband. I think she could have used a lot more reminders.

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Old 12-11-2005, 01:41 AM
 
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I would like to reiterate that I have not embarassed my child by reminding him of the social custom of thanking gift-givers. I know this because he is old enough to tell me so, and he does tell me when I embarass him or hurt his feelings (happened tonight, in fact. ). He does not feel shamed. I think it's important to be sensitive to these things, and certainly every child is different in this respect. I just do not agree with the assertion that those of us who occasionally remind our children to say 'thank you' are choosing to shame them. Clearly my approach with my child is not shameful. I don't consider it a 'fault' to forget the polite customary response, so I'm not 'drawing attention to a fault'. I am gently guiding, just like I do in a million other ways every day. People-pleasing is not more important to be than authenticity, but like I stated in my earlier post, there is a balance to be found.
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Old 12-11-2005, 02:21 AM
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I also wouldn't want someone to tell me to keep my voice down in a restaurant, or to ask that I hold their hand in a parking lot or be carried, or...I am not a child, and my child is not an adult.
I think this comment pretty much says it all.

I agree with what scubamama and aira say completely.

Furthermore, in a situation of one or the other, I would rather have my child be genuinely rude, than be polite but comepletely fake. Of course, no one wants a rude child, but what I don't want more, is a child who feels they have to lie or be fake, or insincere to be accepted.

Believe me, my child will learn how "the real world" works. This discussion seems to be a justification for so many parenting things ..."I have to do this with my child because when they get out into the REAL world, they won't know how to do anything!"

Give your kids some credit. Believe me, my child will know at a young age that people expect thank yous and pleases and such, soley based on observing the world around her and the way we model sincere feelings. She will also know by the reactions or dissaproving looks of others that doing rude things is generally frowned upon. Of course we will discuss these things with her so she can avoid that if she chooses, but children are a heck of a lot smarter and more observant that a lot of people give them credit for.

Maybe it is just me, but I cannot stand insincere sentiments. I would rather the person not say it at all.
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Old 12-11-2005, 02:25 AM
 
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Originally Posted by aira
If I misunderstood, then what is it that you do want for your child? I got that you value authenicity, but not over people-pleasing.

If people-pleasing is more important to you than authenticity, then we'll just have to differ on this. I'm being authentic here, I understand you don't find it pleasant.
So what's the difference between "people-pleasing" and respect? Where do you draw the line?

This summer my 6 yo nephew told his mother that the dinner my step-mom had made was "gross" when we all sat down to dinner. Authentic? Yes. Respectful? Not in my opinion. And I would wager that most people would think, "That child is an authentic brat." And I think that matters. We're social animals. Like it or not, we rely on others, and children form their opinions of themselves based partly on their interactions with others. If they know how to "please people", as you put it, or treat people respectfully, they're going to get that back, and their lives will be much easier.

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Old 12-11-2005, 02:47 AM
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I guess my point is, I am not raising a 6 year old not to say dinner is gross. Hopefully, I will be raising a 16 year old who knows not to say that, or a 26 year old who won't say that to her future in-laws or whatever. The impulsive, blunt honesty of a 6 year old makes me laugh more than anything...even if they had said it about my own dinner. I guess I just don't get all hurt and bent out of shape by like, 6 year olds. Sure, it was not a very nice thing to say and it isn't as if I would *hope* my daughter would say that... but at the same time, what is the recourse? Punishing her or shaming her or yelling at her at the table? How does that help? Correcting her or sending her to another room to eat alone, or giving her a nasty look and scoling her in the car later? I mean what would be the action taken if my daughter happened to say something like that? (again, not that I would be all happy if she did).

Personally, I would probably have said something like "Well, I happen to like so and so's dinner and think it is delicious (provided I did)...." and if I said anything to my child, it would be in private -- " I know you don't care for peas, but maybe next time we can think of a different way to express that to Aunt sally" or whatever.
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Old 12-11-2005, 03:27 AM
 
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Originally Posted by captain crunchy
I guess my point is, I am not raising a 6 year old not to say dinner is gross. Hopefully, I will be raising a 16 year old who knows not to say that, or a 26 year old who won't say that to her future in-laws or whatever. The impulsive, blunt honesty of a 6 year old makes me laugh more than anything...even if they had said it about my own dinner. I guess I just don't get all hurt and bent out of shape by like, 6 year olds. Sure, it was not a very nice thing to say and it isn't as if I would *hope* my daughter would say that... but at the same time, what is the recourse? Punishing her or shaming her or yelling at her at the table? How does that help? Correcting her or sending her to another room to eat alone, or giving her a nasty look and scoling her in the car later?
All right, first of all, no one here has advocated anything like this. At least I didn't hear anyone saying that. This is a GD board, after all. So I think this comment is irrelevant.

And besides, he's not my kid, so I didn't do anything, and neither did my brother or SIL. Their policy is to completely ignore any behavior they don't like, but this kid could use a little more coaching, as could some other children.

Quote:
Originally Posted by captain crunchy
Personally, I would probably have said something like "Well, I happen to like so and so's dinner and think it is delicious (provided I did)....
So what if you thought it was gross, too? What if this woman, recently married to my father, who was trying very hard to find her place in our family and get along with everyone, made something you thought was gross while you were in her home and served it to you? Then wouldn't you agree it would me okay to be authentic?

I don't think anyone got hurt or bent out of shape, but I think that it was a little bit obnoxious, especially because my stepmother had been waiting on the grandkids all day long and had made the entire dinner for 12 people without anyone's help so that the rest of us could ride with my dad. And I do think that children can hurt people's feelings. Not everyone thinks it's cute when they have terrible manners. In fact, I would guess few people do, from the comments I've heard.

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Old 12-11-2005, 04:28 AM
 
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So how about "the look" ? The private correction between mother and child where not a word is spoken but the child is reminded to say "thank you" or "please" or to keep their mouth shut about the horrible dinner aunt Suzy just cooked.

It surprises me to no end how many people think it is more important for their child to be 100% honest and "authentic" even if it means being rude than being polite for politeness sake. My kids can be as authentic as the day is long in appropriate situations and with people who love them unconditionally. But when they go out in the world I expect them to follow the social customs and be polite and say the correct things. then they can come home and say anythign they want about that itchy sweater that they thanked grandma kindly for or the horrible dinner that they politely refused by stating that they ate before coming over.
Where did this value come about where anybody thinks it is actually GOOD thing for anybody to ONLY say things when they truly and profoundly feel them rather than because they are the appropriate things to say? Where social skills and manners and behavior all are unimportant when it comes to unblinking honesty and "authenticity".?
And why would anybody think it is an either or proposition. That if a person learns to say "thank you" when they receive a gift regardless of gratitude, that somehow they fail to learn about genuine gratitude as is implied in the statement
Quote:
What's the problem with allowing them to develop authentic gratitude and authentic empathy?
Nobody is denying their child the opportunity to develop authentic gratitude or empathy by teaching manners.
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Old 12-11-2005, 12:20 PM
 
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Raise your hand if you are personally working on living gracefully in a state of inner peace, love for fellow humans, and gratitude for life...


(Sounds to me like most here are...)


Me too! I am!! I can thank Aunt Betty for a yucky meal without being insincere. Because I really do appreciate that she provided for us.

That's what I will foster in DS. More accurately, I trust him implicity to achieve it himself if I stay out of his way. Then he can also thank Aunt Betty and mean it too.


---


Quote:
Originally Posted by johub
And why would anybody think it is an either or proposition. That if a person learns to say "thank you" when they receive a gift regardless of gratitude, that somehow they fail to learn about genuine gratitude as is implied in the statement

Quote:
Originally Posted by aira
What's the problem with allowing them to develop authentic gratitude and authentic empathy?
Nobody is denying their child the opportunity to develop authentic gratitude or empathy by teaching manners.
We covered this part a while back... I go look for some quotes...

ETA: Well, there's too much to quote easily, but this was discussed back starting at the end of the 1st page, and a lot on the second page. My points on this particular aspect of the discussion can be found in post #28...

HTH.
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Old 12-11-2005, 12:54 PM
 
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Originally Posted by natensarah
So what's the difference between "people-pleasing" and respect? Where do you draw the line?
people-pleasing = phoney, repressive of self

respect = honest commnication of genuine love, gratitude, etc..., strengthens authentic self
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Old 12-11-2005, 01:34 PM
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The impulsive, blunt honesty of a 6 year old makes me laugh more than anything...even if they had said it about my own dinner. I guess I just don't get all hurt and bent out of shape by like, 6 year olds.
Okay, I never said I thought it was cute when children hurt people's feelings. I was speaking only in the context of myself, that if a 6 year old said the dinner I made was gross I would probably laugh inwardly, thinking, well heck, at least the kid's honest. That is just me.

When I was very overdue and we were eating at a local diner, a little girl was walking into the bathroom as I was walking out. She was about 5 I would say. Well, she turns to her mom, her eyes big as saucers and said "wow mama, that lady has a BIGGGGGG belly!!!" Was she being rude or just making an observation? Well, I took it as the honest observation of a small child and I laughed. I bent down and said to her, "My belly is big because I am growing a baby in there!" She asked a couple of questions and wanted to feel my stomach. Her mother looked SO freaking relieved because I am sure she was expecting a dirty look and for me to think her daughter was so rude and whatnot. I didn't.

Same goes for children who say things are gross or whatever. I guess I just give them the benefit of the doubt and chalk it up to them not having the impulse control or the right words at the moment to express that they don't like peas or whatever. I don't come to it as if the child is a rude brat who is hell bent on hurting feelings. It is all about perspective.

Yes, I want our daughter to learn manners and appropriate social behavior. I am hoping to accomplish this by the time she gets old enough to be out in the world through modeling, everyday discussion, and her own personal observations about the world and about how people respond positively or negatively based on the words and actions she uses. I don't expect this to be accomplished at 6 years old. I would much rather foster and support authenticity in her words and actions FIRST, and worry about pleasing others in a social situation second.

No one is saying I would be congratulating her and turning cartwheels if she said someone's dinner was gross. Of course I don't want her to knowingly hurt someone's feelings or be *rude* or whatever....but I am not going to force anything, or "gently remind" in public, or whatever. I am perfectly content to model and to pick up the slack (so to speak) while she is little, by apologizing or thanking for her in her presence rather than reminding her to do it in front of people or giving her a look or whatever.
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Old 12-11-2005, 02:59 PM
 
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Not sure I have anything "nice" to say at this point; sometimes, I choose not to say anything at all. But, I am choosing it, not being prompted/reminded or given a "look" by anyone attempting to control me to meet their *expectations* of my behavior. Sometimes, I don't keep my opinion to myself and I am willing to accept the consequences of that too. I just don't impose consequences on our child in order to modify his behavior. He is observant enough to choose whether he considers it "gross" enough to say something or not, just as I do. And we learn portable skills quickly when we rely on our own observations and experience the accountability of Real Life to teach us manners. The process of others attempting to control how we "should" act, diminishes personal responsibility for our own actions.

***Not in an imposed "logical consequences" sort of way, but in a non-correcting, non-punitive means of not interfering with safe learning opportunities. Children learn manners through observation without being pressured to perform to standards established by parents. The reactions of others provides ample catalyst to choose their behavior independently. Children are learning all the time. Directing their behavior 'to social customs, be polite and say the correct things' eliminates opportunities to choose accountability for one owns choices.

Accountability and authenticity are important values for me to avoid interrupting our son from having opportunities to learn. More of a priority than interrupting his possible rudeness. But, sometimes, there is no "nice" way to point that out. Yes, honesty and personal accountability are the cornerstones of choice. Not everyone wants to accept the consequences of their own choices. When we remove the opportunities to experience the consequences of the impact of our own actions on others, we lose the potential to learn why rudeness matters. (Especially if someone is rude while "teaching" when rudeness matters. )

Pat

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Old 12-11-2005, 03:01 PM
 
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Originally Posted by aira
We covered this part a while back... I go look for some quotes...

ETA: Well, there's too much to quote easily, but this was discussed back starting at the end of the 1st page, and a lot on the second page. My points on this particular aspect of the discussion can be found in post #28...

HTH.
Yes I read that and here is what was said
Quote:
Either he will resent being made to express thoughts that are not his, or he'll just do it and his ability to actually foster feelings of gratitude will be hampered. Maybe both. The point is that language usage helps form our thinking patterns, and misused language clutters and harms our ability to think a certain way - like having actual gratitude.
Which is not really an explanation but a restatement of your position. You say here that it hampers feelings of gratitude. You also say that misused language clutters and harms our ability to think a certain way.
But this is not an explanation, it is simply your postulate reworded.
Why and how is this postualte true? I do not believe it to be so at all.
A restatement of something you believe to be true is not the same thing as answering the queston "but why?" or "how".
And so when I read statements like that, I still can read the whole thread and feel like the question "how" was never truly answered.
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Old 12-11-2005, 04:09 PM
 
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I have gone through a lengthy process of answering these questions for myself. It requires digging very deep into your own psyche and challenging all your assuptions. If it's important enough to you, I suppose you will have to do similar.

If you're looking for a starting point, as I suggested earlier, Alice ******. Noam Chomsky writes about the linguistic pathways formed by our experiences - you can sift through his political opinions if they don't suit you. Jean Liedloff gives some ideas about challenging our suppositions of humans and culture.

But you have to answer "how" for yourself, if you're so inclined. Just feel it.

Or you can ignore it all and just not like what I have to say. That's fine too. But trying to over-intellectualize deep feelings is counterproductive, so I won't get into a weird discussion like that...
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Old 12-11-2005, 04:18 PM
 
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I'm just really done with this discussion. I've laid out my thoughts pretty clearly, and I'm too tired today to do it anymore...

Good luck, all.
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Old 12-11-2005, 05:21 PM
 
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I continue to be bewildered by the concept that other people know when *other people's children* are embarrassed. Even when other posters say they specifically asked their kids and the kids say they do not find such reminders embarrassing! Can't we recognize that embarrassment is a complex emotion and that different people feel it at very different times and in different ways? If I begin to notice that my child seems embarrassed or upset by "manners reminders," I will certainly reassess the way I handle the situation.

Anyway, yes, I believe in the value of standard manners, being kind to others even when it is not "authentic," (do you let your kids hit other people when they authentically want to?) and an occasional little white lie. If this makes me a GD failure--c'est la vie. There are other matters I find far more pressing and significant in my GD strivings.

It would of course be wonderful if all of us, including our small children, reached an enlightened state of omni-gratitude towards others such that we all automatically felt total gratitude even for unwanted gifts or misguided kind gestures. I think this is asking an awful lot of my child, though--it's asking a lot of me, as an adult. Therefore, in order to help my child make her way through the world, I will continue to teach her about politeness and expressing gratitude. As she gets older, I anticipate an eventual conversation about the "little white lie" and about rare occasions when lying is okay. (Think of a surprise party, for instance.) I think it is very possible to teach a child to honor his/her authenticity while keeping it muted under some circumstances. I will certainly explain WHY we thank others for things we don't like and why we don't call a meal someone has worked hard on "gross."

Perhaps some of you here are never inauthentic about anything, ever. I would not get along well in the world if I was not occasionally inauthentic. For instance, to give a common and very relevant example, I am not terribly fond of my mother-in-law, for various reasons. Do I behave authentically when she annoys the daylights out of me in unimportant ways? I do not. Obviously, if she crossed some line (say, if she spoke to DD roughly or something) I would speak up, but I am not talking about "big" things here--just the little things people do that make you want to scream. If I DID scream, I don't think such "authenticity" would be very helpful to my family or my child.

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Old 12-11-2005, 05:54 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aira
I have gone through a lengthy process of answering these questions for myself. It requires digging very deep into your own psyche and challenging all your assuptions. If it's important enough to you, I suppose you will have to do similar.

If you're looking for a starting point, as I suggested earlier, Alice ******. Noam Chomsky writes about the linguistic pathways formed by our experiences - you can sift through his political opinions if they don't suit you. Jean Liedloff gives some ideas about challenging our suppositions of humans and culture.

But you have to answer "how" for yourself, if you're so inclined. Just feel it.

Or you can ignore it all and just not like what I have to say. That's fine too. But trying to over-intellectualize deep feelings is counterproductive, so I won't get into a weird discussion like that...
I completely get this. It is more of an internal truth you have arrived at rather than something that can be put convincingly in simple terms.
Thank you for your explanation
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Old 12-11-2005, 07:44 PM
 
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***Not in an imposed "logical consequences" sort of way, but in a non-correcting, non-punitive means of not interfering with safe learning opportunities. Children learn manners through observation without being pressured to perform to standards established by parents. The reactions of others provides ample catalyst to choose their behavior independently. Children are learning all the time. Directing their behavior 'to social customs, be polite and say the correct things' eliminates opportunities to choose accountability for one owns choices.
Sorry, but I have to disagree here. Yes, some children pick up on social customs all on their own. Some children are very extroverted, people-oriented social butterflies. I know one. I have seen her quickly evaluate social situations and choose the appropriate behavior. She probably needs little to no coaching, it's inherent to her.

However, I believe that our social customs are much more inscrutable to other children, and need more explanation. My nephew, for example. He is not particularly socially aware. He is "inner-directed", and does not often realize that he might be hurting other people's feelings. I have seen him playing with his friends and cousins, and it is obvious that he is ostracized and often disliked, and this in turn frustrates him greatly. My brother and his wife never say anything to him about it. I think they are doing him a disservice by witholding this knowledge from him, knowledge he is clearly having a very hard time acquiring on his own.

I think it would be much, much kinder to occasionally pull him aside and say, "You know, it seems like X doesn't like to be told how to put the Legos together. Why don't you try just watching him and not instructing him?" or "It could really hurt someone's feelings if you told them what they had cooked for you was gross. In the future, I expect you to just refuse it politely. Can you think of some ways to do that?" etc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by scubamama
Accountability and authenticity are important values for me to avoid interrupting our son from having opportunities to learn. More of a priority than interrupting his possible rudeness. But, sometimes, there is no "nice" way to point that out. Yes, honesty and personal accountability are the cornerstones of choice. Not everyone wants to accept the consequences of their own choices. When we remove the opportunities to experience the consequences of the impact of our own actions on others, we lose the potential to learn why rudeness matters. (Especially if someone is rude while "teaching" when rudeness matters. )
So if your son was consistently making a poor choice that you knew would result in heartache for him, it would be more important to let him make that choice unfettered than risk embarassing him with your advice/correction?

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Old 12-11-2005, 08:34 PM
 
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I completely agree. Maybe my take on this is partly because I suspect my daughter is going to be like your nephew. She is very, very inner-directed and while outgoing and friendly, does not pick up on social cues the way some children do. (For instance, some two-year-olds will attempt to comfort someone who is hurt or sad; mine would never do this. Not in her nature right now.) Also, my own nephew--the one who throws gifts down and makes faces--has had a LOT of trouble making and keeping friends. I'm pretty sure his parents' total lack of interest in cultivating his social "IQ" has something to do with that.

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Old 12-11-2005, 09:04 PM
 
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natensarah - the case of your nephew seems to be different than what we are talking about on here...at least i thought we were just talking about our general policies on teaching manners from an early age. i would hope that most of us would intervene if we saw our children suffering and being ostracized for antisocial behavior...maybe i'm wrong...but i know that wasn't the scenario i was talking about when i replied.
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