Poor Manners In Children Blamed On The Demise Of The Home-Cooked Meal

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The American South is seeing a decline in manners, according to The New York Times, as fingers are pointed firmly at parents for failing to instill this crucial component of a “Southerner’s identity” in future generations. Shame on all of you for checking your Blackberry, eating out, and for refusing to cook your kids meals every night of the week.

Dana Mason, a long-time teacher in Alabama, says that manners with her students have reached the worst they have ever been in her 36 years of teaching. She tells the paper that parents don’t only want their kids saying “yes, sir” and “no, ma’am,” they’re also too busy to sit down at the table and prepare home-cooked family meals. She told the paper:

“You don’t need to know all your social graces to sit down at McDonald’s and eat a burger and fries.”

An etiquette teacher named Dorothy McLeod, also lays blame at the feet of busy parents — but also homes in which both parents work for a living. Children are often not held accountable for their behavior, she says, by stressed out parents.

I agree that manners and civility often seem to take a backseat in our fast-paced lives, especially with kids. With so many parents rushing to get everyone fed, clean, and put to bed, all the while juggling a job, a partnership, and perhaps even interests of their own — “please” and “thank you” don’t always get the amount of reinforcement they should.

Yet, to also point fingers at homes in which both parents have to work to provide for said kids reads like a stretch. The 1960s were a long time ago. Women heading off to work post-childbirth isn’t so much a declaration of ambition anymore as much as it is a necessity for many families. While I do think children should learn politeness, blaming parents for working during a time when everyone clearly needs to be given our recession seems like an unfounded strike against parents.