Written by on February 20, 2014 at 12:03 pm

Respect your elders. Mind your manners. Because I said so!

How many times have parents uttered these directives while gritting their teeth and clenching their fists? And as to that, how many times does it take to get the message across?

logo-manners“Because I said so!” probably should never pass the lips of a parent or grandparent but sometimes there is just no alternative. Obviously, then, the first two phrases are not working.

Stop and think about it though. Does a youngster really know what it means to respect their elders? Do they, and the elders, too, for that matter, understand that respect comes after older folks have demonstrated that they deserve that respect or are they just supposed to pretend to honor parents, grandparents and older complete strangers?

The incident that set off this tirade was witnessed in the grocery store recently. There was an infant strapped in the cart, barely able to move he’s so well protected. The cart was being pushed past the checker by a really young teenager whom I assumed was the mother of the child. Meanwhile, at the end of the counter there’s Grandma, retrieving bags of groceries and packing them into a cart to be wheeled out to the car. All of a sudden there’s an Elder Person explosion directed at the Young Person: “You should be lifting all these heavy bags, not me!” I couldn’t help it. After having watched the situation for a couple of minutes and having devised the personality of the teenager, my feelings just popped right out of my mouth. “Give ‘em hell, Grandma!” I said loud enough for anyone within twenty feet to hear. My outburst not only brought grins to the faces of those around me, it sent Young Person sullenly around to the front to begin snatching the bags of groceries and packing them in the cart.

So, the question becomes, why did the Young Person not feel obligated to do the heavy lifting and let Grandma play with the baby? After all, I imagine Grandma paid for the groceries. But beyond that, why are children not being taught what it means to have consideration for or respect for their elders anymore?

Laziness. Laziness on the part of the parents and the child. It’s just easier for parents to keep the peace in a silent household than it is to take a child through the steps of social graces and learning manners. Most children know instinctively when things aren’t as they should be as long as the adults conduct themselves properly. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case in a large percentage of homes these days. But parents should realize that none of this is difficult to accomplish, although it requires that they also realize that courtesy and respect are reciprocal.

So, down to the basics. Older folks need their rest. Older folks are wiser, presumably, than young folks. Older folks have faced and conquered the challenges of getting to be an Older Folk in the first place. Older folk deserve to be addressed not by their given name, but as Mr. or Mrs. and any attempt by them to encourage the Young Person to do otherwise is a pitiful attempt at feeling more youthful and familiar.

I shudder to think what will happen to young people as they grow into adults these days with no respect for themselves or anybody else. Of course, if this epidemic continues to spread, it won’t make any difference a generation from now. More’s the pity.

About Evan Jones

Evan is the Assistant Editor at the Southside Messenger newspaper in Keysville, Virginia.


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