I wouldn’t say that I grew up in a formal household by any means, but it certainly wasn’t informal. While I didn’t go to charm school or finishing school, my parents taught me the importance of manners from an early age. They expected good manners from me all of the time.
I never even considered responding to my parents with anything other than “Yes sir,” or “Yes ma’am”. If I had my elbows on the dinner table, I could count how many seconds it would be before my mom came in and tried to swoop them off. “Yes please,” or “No thank you,” were required.
One of the biggest things my parents taught us from a young age was to always refer to adults using “Mr. <last name>” or Mrs. <last name>.” The thought never even crossed my mind to refer to adults any other way.
When I had kids, I decided to loosen up the required manners just a tad. While I still require “Yes please,” and “No thank you,” I don’t really care if my kids have their elbows on the dinner table (Sorry Mom!). And while I kind of wish we had instilled “Yes ma’am” and “No sir” into our everyday vernacular, it just didn’t happen.
But we always require the kids to refer to adults either by “Mr. <last name>” or “Mrs. <last name>” or at the very least, “Mr. <first name>” or “Ms. <first name>.” For some reason, I can let some of the good manners go, but I can’t let that one slide.
I feel as if the lack of formality is a lack of respect. These days there are more kids that call me by my first name than anything else. It feels so weird and foreign to me. Sure I wear a baseball cap 90% of the time and I’m in activewear probably 99% of the time, but don’t I still deserve a “Mrs. Stine” or at the very least a “Ms. Amy”?
One day I feel like the kids of today are going to forego any formalities toward adults and say, “YO dude! What’s UUUUUUUUP?” and then proceed to fart loudly without saying “Excuse me.”
In all seriousness, though, am I holding onto an old-fashioned way of thinking? Is this just not important anymore?
I don’t know what other parents are doing, but I will continue to teach my kids to use “Mr.” and “Mrs.” because it’s important to me.