I doubt that there would be a mother amongst us who has never taught her child manners. From the time our child can grasp something held out to them we have intoned the magical words, "Say thank you!" " ta" "please" But good manners are more than please and thank you!
Good manners include holding doors open for someone, letting the other person go first, excusing oneself after emitting intestinal noises~ahem...It's saying "excuse me" and not pushing someone in the road, it's insisting that the children speak respectfully and a lot more. Manners also includes teaching children to value and respect others' property and home...
I can well remember an incident with my friends' daughters. Her elder daughter had a hair clip that belonged to her younger daughter. Now she wanted it back. This is not an unreasonable request. However, the hair clip was inside elder daughter's makeup bag which was inside her handbag, and she was not at home. It would be a simple matter for her mother to just get the hairclip and give it to her. But to my amazement, my friend wouldn't got to the absent girl's handbag much to her sister's sorrow!
Quite fascinated, I observed this, taking mental notes. Patiently, her mother explained to that since the holder of the hairclip wasn't home, it would be best to use another hairpin. It was not up to anyone except the absent girl to go through her stuff to give it to her. The owner of the hairclip wailed and was quite upset, but her mother stood firm.
Later on, my friend explained that she was training her children to respect others' property. She didn't want her child to think it was OK to rummage through her sisters' things because she didn't want to teach her that it would be OK to rummage through *our* things! Likewise, she wouldn't let her children jump on the couch at home because she didn't want them jumping on *our* couches! I took all this on board thinking what a wise woman she was. She was sharp, and she was setting the example.
We must set the rules of behaviour in our own homes. Respect of people, respect of others' property and proper and respectful behaviour in others' homes begins in our own. It is an important task that is sometimes forgotten today in this world where children are allowed free reign at home and in others' homes.
Unruly and ill-mannered children will harm your Christian witness too. We are called to have obedient children. So for the LORD'S sake as well, it is important to give careful and faithful instruction to our children. Not only will it benefit our witness and our children and home, but us also as we find ourselves welcomed at others' homes instead of remaining uninvited because they just can't stand our kids! It's true that manners certainly are far more than just please and thank you!
© Glenys Robyn Hicks
"Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." Proverbs 22:6