You call your kid prince or princess, society calls them ‘brat’

19 Oct

Here is today’s COMMENT FROM AN OLD FART: Urban Dictionary defines brat:

1.A really annoying person.
2.A person that is spoiled rotten.
3.An annoying child that wants something that no one will get for him/her.

Most folks have had the experience of shopping in a store like Target and observing a child acting out or screaming at the top of his or her lungs. Another chance for observation of family interaction is dining out at a restaurant when children may act out. Without knowing the history, it is difficult to assess the root cause. Still, an observation of how the parent(s) deal with the tantrum is instructive about who is in control and where the power resides in a family. It appears that in many families the parents are reluctant to be parents and to teach their children appropriate behavior, boundaries, and manners.

Carolyn Jones has written the interesting Time article, You Annoyed Me at Hello: Why Kids Still Need to Learn Manners:

It’s fall, which means that the new academic year has started. It also means that my husband, a 37-year-old college professor, has started to shake a fist at his inbox. Why? Because, as surely as leaves fall from trees, my husband’s new crop of undergrads won’t know how to address him. They’ll toggle between no salutation, using his first name only, or greeting him with a cheery: “Hey!”

Sadly, being called “Hey!” by a teen doesn’t inspire my husband’s cheer, nor does it establish the rapport the sender may have wished. Instead, it makes the vexed professor and his wife wonder whether titles are as defunct as an iPhone 4 charger.

Our concerns aren’t just academic. We have a daughter, not yet three, and like many parents, we have grand ambitions for her. One is that we’d like her to be a polite member of society starting, we believe, by addressing adults as Mr., Mrs. and Ms.

But we have an awkward problem. None of our parent-friends agree.

Now, these parents are our friends because we like them, their values and their kids. Yet despite our similarities, their children address adults by their first names, and we don’t want our child to do the same.

Are my husband and I irredeemably stuffy? Most likely, but to find out for sure, I sought professional help.

Peggy Post, director of the Emily Post Institute, and descendant (by marriage) of the eponymous writer who’d formally introduced America to etiquette, was kind enough to take my call.

I still say it’s a good idea to teach our children to use appropriate titles,” Post said, after listening carefully to my quandary. “Mr., Mrs. and Ms. are not necessarily old-fashioned. Though our world is informal these days, a lot of adults still expect children, especially ones they don’t know, to refer to them by their titles.”

Etiguette, manners, and boundaries can be taught.

Ann Marie Sabath, author of Business Etiquette: 101 Ways to Conduct Business with Charm and Savvy, posted Ten Etiquette Rules for Children at Oprah.Com:

1. How to Dine
When invited to a pre-arranged meal, always use your utensils from the “outside in.” After all, utensils are set in the order that food will be served.

2. Telephone Manners
When calling a friend, identify yourself to the person who answers the phone before asking to speak your friend. By doing so, the parents or other family member who answer the phone will appreciate this courtesy and see you as friendly.

3. On Correspondence
Anytime it takes someone more than 15 minutes to do something for you, send the person a thank-you note. By doing so, the person will know you really appreciated what was done for you.

4. Be Gracious
When you are sent an invitation that requires an RSVP, be sure to let the person know if you will be able to go to the gathering. After all, “RSVP” means “respond if you please.”

5. Shoes Are Important
When getting dressed each day, be sure that your shoes are well-maintained. People associate the way you take care of your shoes with the way you handle detail in the rest of your life.

6. Be Open to New Foods
When you are invited out to eat and are served a food that is not your favorite, try a piece of it anyway. You may be surprised and find that you end up liking it.

7. Ask Questions
When talking with friends and family, always make a point of asking them questions about themselves. People will see you as interesting if you are interested in them.

8. At the Table
When eating a roll, be sure to break off a bite-sized piece at a time. No bread-and-butter sandwiches, please.

9. Be Friendly
When you are in school, be cool by making a point to talk with that new kid in your class. If the tables were turned, wouldn’t that make you feel good?

10. The Rule of Twelve
When talking with others, always use a form of thanks and the person’s name in the first 12 words you speak (“It’s good to see you, Mary,” or “Thanks for picking me up from soccer, Dad.”) By following this rule of 12, people will want to continue to do nice things for you.

The basis of manners and boundaries is simply the “Golden Rule.”

The Tanenbaum Center which honors the work of the late Rabbi Marc Tanenbaum has a really good definition of the Golden Rule” which is stated in an interview with Joyce Dubensky entitled, The Golden Rule Around the World

At its simplest, it’s really just “being kind.” Caring about other people. That means putting that kindness into action and treating people with compassion. It means trying to understand people’s beliefs and needs. It means not harming others and actively working to eliminate harm….
What concrete steps can people take to start to put the Rule into practice?

Practically, there are steps that institutions and individuals can take to make a difference.

Institutionally, there are anti-discrimination and accommodation policies you can put into place to ensure that employees aren’t unduly thwarted in their ability to practice their religions. Educational institutions can make sure that teachers are properly trained to create inclusive, multi-cultural and multi-religious classrooms. And hospitals can work proactively with patients who may not want treatment that conflicts with their religion.

There are also things we can all do on the individual level. We can notice people who are not from our own group – people who have different practices or beliefs – and be interested in them. We can be curious about who they are and what their lives are like, without applying stereotypes. We can ask questions with curiosity and respect and truly listen to and digest the answers. And we can be willing to share about ourselves, our own beliefs and our own experiences.

Finally, we can work together, whether in workplaces, schools, community groups or governments to ensure that people from diverse backgrounds and viewpoints are
involved in decision-making. By making all voices heard – and really listening to each of those voices – we can solve many of the problems we face together.

And when we do that, we’ll get to the gold.

Some form of the “Golden Rule” is found in most religious traditions.

Children are not mature and adults can not expect the same level of maturity that most adults are presumed to have. Parents are not their child’s friend and have to provide guidance, direction, and boundaries.

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3 Responses to “You call your kid prince or princess, society calls them ‘brat’”


  1. Annual freshman college survey: I’m so vain I thought the world revolved around me « Comments From An Old Fart - January 6, 2013

    […] Children are not mature and adults can not expect the same level of maturity that most adults are presumed to have.Parents are not their child’s friend and have to provide guidance, direction, and boundaries.… […]

  2. Annual freshman college survey: I’m so vain I thought the world revolved around me « drwilda - January 6, 2013

    […] Children are not mature and adults can not expect the same level of maturity that most adults are presumed to have.Parents are not their child’s friend and have to provide guidance, direction, and boundaries.… […]

  3. Mayo Clinc study: You can’t shield children from all risks | drwilda - March 17, 2013

    […]… […]

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