The other day I was listening to a well-known talk show. The subject that day was ‘brats’ and the wishes of many to ban them from public places, namely restaurants. As can be imagined, feelings were running very high in audience members, especially in those who have children and insist that their children need ‘their space’, they harm no one, and who say the people who object to their child’s behavior are kid haters; and in those who don’t have children, but resent the loud, unruly presence of someone’s uncontrolled fruit of the womb. They are part of what is known as the ‘brat ban movement’.
Regardless of anyone’s personal feelings, (I am sympathetic to issues on both sides because I raised a son) parents need to realize they are doing their progeny no favors by failing to instill in them polite, considerate behavior, manners, and courtesy. I am probably preaching to the choir here, because those parents who do not realize this were probably never taught manners when they were children.
I was, but that is not to say my son was perfect. Far from it. However, when he began to act up, I tried to chastise him. When that failed, and it often did, I removed him from the scene. We would go sit in the car until he felt ready to behave. He rarely threw a tantrum; instead he would lie on the floor somewhere, arms spread out, and make his feelings known by his supine attitude and silence. So, I would step over him and go on with my business.
I don’t know whether a sense of entitlement is the root cause of parents not teaching their children how to behave. I come from the generation that believed that much of our social mores were hypocritical, and that we should ‘let it all hang out’, be natural, and say what we feel. There is something to be said for the development of honest interactions between people, but taken to extremes it changed society in less than positive ways. I certainly do not want to have anything to do with bratty children.
A year or two ago I was in a doctor’s office. I had been using a cane temporarily. A woman’s young boy grabbed it, (while I was holding it!) and tried to yank it away from me. His mother’s back was turned, but when I spoke sharply to the boy, she turned around and asked what was wrong. I told her her son was grabbing my cane and I had almost fallen. She didn’t scold him, or tell him to stop, and she didn’t apologize to me. She just took his arm and pulled him next to her, where he continued to grab things off the counter. If I saw them today, I would still remember her horrendous parenting, and her bratty child.
Knowing how to behave in polite society (no one is telling anyone they cannot pass gas, or belch, or talk loudly at home, although your family is just as deserving of good manners from you as a stranger) is a plus just from a practical viewpoint. You may not get the best job, or meet only the best people with a foundation of good manners, but I can guarantee bad manners definitely won’t get you those things.
An excellent reason for knowing how to behave is that people remember instances of incivility and bad behavior far better and for far longer than they do kindness, or good behavior. There are television shows and websites dedicated to bad behavior. People will make judgments about someone’s character and intelligence in the face of their poor manners. In the professional and personal world, victims of bad behavior will occasionally do what they can to get even with the perpetrator.
What it boils down to is a derivation of the Golden Rule. Treat others as you would be treated. If you would like to have quiet, peaceful meals in a restaurant without someone’s brat running around, making a mess, yelling, etc., then teach your children how to behave properly. If you don’t want to hear everyone’s cell phone conversations, or have someone fly into a rage on the road while you are driving, or have someone cut you off, then don’t do it yourself.
If you’ve ever been stopped for a speeding ticket and saw the amount you were being penalized for not obeying the rules of the road, you know first hand the law’s response to bad behavior. It is to penalize, hit you in the pocketbook, and make you responsible for your actions. (I won’t go into the motive of filling the state’s coffers). If the police can give people tickets for public disruptions and bad behavior, I fail to see why they cannot fine parents for not controlling their children.
If you don’t pay for your child’s bad behavior now, you or they will be paying for it later.