Arrogance is the new intelligence

A few days ago we took the kids to a party and they pretty much shocked the pants off everyone with their Good evening Uncle, Good evening Aunty, Thank you for having us, except for the Bean saying her goodbyes and ending with, ‘Thank you for coming’! Yes, she’s four and easily confused but very particular about manners. πŸ™‚

The hosts laughed their butts off and then proceeded to lecture us on ‘making’ the kids wish other adults the time of day and say please, thank you etc. This is something I’ve always found rather strange. Why is it that people don’t think manners are an unimportant lesson? Or that there is such a thing as teaching your kids manners too early?Β No, it doesn’t come naturally to kids to say Please, Thank you and May I, so if you don’t teach them, who will?

Oh he won’t say hello unless he likes you, says one smiling father. Another mother shrugs proudly – He’ll hit first and ask questions later. Eh? What am I missing? And parents are okay with this? Others believe it’s a part of modern parenting philosophy and throw words at you like Β – space, privacy, choice, development. He has only one childhood and we don’t like to tell him to do this or do that… says another, fondly watching her son throw stones at a stray dog. And what do our kids have – nine lives? “The books I’ve read and the school philosophy is to let the children find their own feet and decide what they think is right or wrong… ‘ she says, as her son pushes my daughter off her cycle roughly. I break the conversation and go running to save her since she’s about half his size. Β Clearly her son thinks there is nothing wrong with raising a hand on a little girl who is half his size. I hope all that psychology is useful as he grows up aggressive.

I understand some kids are shy and some are aggressive – but I am horrified when I don’t even see parents make a token effort. A simple reminder – say Good evening/Hello/Namaste to Aunty. Never mind if the kid doesn’t say it – you’ve begun something that he will slowly absorb and someday even surprise you by saying without prompting.

But (Yes, I am aware that you shouldn’t start a sentence with ‘but’) no one seems to care, by their own admission. All the kids go to new age schools where they are encouraged to explore their surroundings and find themselves. Where there is no discipline. No enforcement. I agree with that in theory. My kids go to a similar school. But are we throwing away decency and manners in this whole new way of parenting?

If your kid has looked deep within and only found arrogance or bad behaviour, how about you find some manners for him? Another kid stalks off from the skating class because he is punching a younger kid in the face and I stop him. I’m nobody of any relevance according to him. I’m not his mother and I’m not the skating coach, so what business is it of mine? I glare at him mencingly and firmly tell him that he MUST STOP HITTING. Or else, his eyes challenge me? Or else… I drift away. Or else nothing. I can do nothing. I am positive I won’t find any support in his parents. If they cared, he wouldn’t be as much of a bully as he is.

For instance, I recently saw this advertisement on TV and it horrified me. I’d skin my kids alive if they slid a coin across a counter so rudely to a shopkeeper, specially an elderly person. But advertisers clearly have been doing enough market surveys to know that arrogance is the new intelligence. When we were kids the advertisements enticed you with promises of growing to be like Kapil Dev or the smarter kid. But no, we no longer aspire to be hardworking or tall. Β We aim to be cocky. We want to be arrogant.

Because in some twisted way parents believe that being arrogant shows that we’re smart. We’re witty, we’re intelligent, we’re irreverent. That it makes their kids brave and intrepid. They don’t demand instant obedience. I get that. I don’t want zombies for kids either. But surely having your own mind and being well mannered are not mutually exclusive. And humility isn’t really an old fashioned virtue. I’m out of options now – I think I’m taking the next ticket to Mars.

I leave you with a piece by Samina Mishra. A senior from college, a sometimes colleague and a woman I admire tremendously for what she does with her life and the way she thinks. Enjoy.



252 thoughts on “Arrogance is the new intelligence

    • Funnily its mostly people without kids who say that 😦 The other day I met this DINK couple (my kids werent around) and they mentioned in passing that their neighbour’s 11-12 year son sees them in the lift everyday and doesn’t bother to say Hello. Surely an adolescent knows enough if not a 4 year old? But if you don’t start teaching at 4 – this is what you’ll end up with at 11.

      And yet, most of the parents I know, seem not to care. I don’t know if they’re lazy, think its too much of an effort… I don’t know. All I know is that few people agree.

      • I guess people like us, without kids, want to stay that way because we can’t (or don’t want to) make the effort of bringing up children as well as you do, yet, we don’t want to infest this world with more irreverent brats. At least, that’s the way I think.

      • I do not think that the boy not wishing the neighbors is any disrespect shown towards them. The couple may not be part of his parents’ social circle. Unless the kid is rude I do not think that he has anything to remedy. Silence cannot be considered offensive

        • They’re not social circle in terms of drinking buddies but they do meet in the lift and chat, stroll a while in the park. I know I’d like my kids to wish neighbours – and they do, unfailingly. Its just simple manners to nod and wish the time of day when you pass someone older, particularly if your parents are acquaintances. At any rate manners are very subjective. What I consider offensive need not necessarily be offensive to you.

          • I do get SK’s point, the kid could just be shy. I remember my husband saying how he was painfully shy as a boy, and he would cross the street to avoid running into acquaintances!! πŸ˜› Today, I think he’s the most considerate and well-mannered guy I have ever met. However, if you can get your child to do all that, more power to you, but I also think we should not judge those who don’t do so too badly either.

            The overall point of your post is very relevant though, and I completely agree (the linked post is such a shocker!). Living in the US, I dont worry too much about teaching my (8 month old!!) son manners, it is well-ingrained in the society here. But I do worry about passing on “Indian” values, like complete respect for elders, decent respect for parental authority etc.

            • I have a problem with the word judge. People use it too often for just about anything they don’t want!
              Manners are an important part of behaving in a civilised way. Civilization. I understand there are shy kids. I just think their poor parents are stuck working harder – just like a kid who won’t potty train or cannot learn to write. It’s all part of parenting and I don’t see why its okay to let this one fall to the wayside.
              I don’t know what Indian values you’re worrying about. As you can see from the linked article and my own – India has no manners left! πŸ™‚

      • Did the couple say hello to him? It works both ways. I think they should just keep at it. If nothing else, someday he would just say ‘hey there oldies’, in the sheer hope that he’ll be left alone.

        • I disagree…. completely. I wouldn’t even suggest that someone act rude in the hope of being excused basic courtesy!

          Courtesy demands that a younger person wishes first, and yes, this couple does smile and nod at him or say hi. The correct response should be a hello or good morning.

          • err…..I was joking. Well, half-joking.

            “Courtesy demands that a younger person wishes first” – I find this archaic. We don’t have to do it a certain way just because the previous generations did so – unless we are convinced. I wish my generation would look beyond ‘I lived longer than you, show me some respect’ attitude. Courtesy just means being polite toward others. Why should we insist on someone being polite “first”? Even if I think about the age, I think it is the responsibility of the older guys to forgive the younger ones and take the initiative. One thing I really admire among the current teenagers is that they respect people for their worth – quality above quantity. For example, if you are a good gamer/hacker, you are respected; you could be an 8 year old or an 80+.

            • Well I think this is what we call a difference in opinion πŸ™‚
              I’d still get up and give my chair to an older gentleman or a pregnant woman. I’d expect my kids to open doors for older and weaker people. I don’t believe in showing respect because someone is older if they are not nice. But if its a pleasant older person or one with whom I’ve had no interaction, I’d like to believe its just decency to be the first to wish.
              I’d also respect someone good at their job just as I would show courtesy to an older person. I don’t think they’re mutually exclusive. Deciding worth is not an easy task. You walk into some house and see an old lady in a wheel chair and know nothing about her history -so you don’t wish her? I know you didn’t mean it literally, but you see what I mean? For all I know that lady was a brilliant professor or fought for independence or was a fantastic mother in law and wife. how does one determine worth of an older person you dont know? Why not give benefit of doubt and wish. And if they turn out to be old horrors who torture kittens and DILs, I’d be the first to ignore them forever after.

          • *MM, I hope this comment will appear in the proper order; couldn’t find a reply option to your last comment*

            Definitely a difference in opinion πŸ™‚

            I’m not siding with the kids who don’t show some respect to us old folks. But, I do feel that there is nothing wrong if we can take the initiative – we are not selling ourselves short.

            Yes, I do agree that quality takes its own sweet time to make its presence felt. And we’ll have a better behaved society by being polite till the other party turns out not worthy of that.

            • I agree. No harm in taking the initiative. It’s more a question of expecting the younger person to learn and finally begin to take the initiative too. And here, it depends on how young the younger person is. If he is 5, he is forgiven. If he is 15, he needs his allowance cut off for the month until he learns some manners.

  1. Manners are important. Terribly important! And I will fight anyone who says otherwise. And it’s the parents job to instill said manner, because people sure aren’t born with them. There are gentle kids and spunky kids and kids of other kinds but everyone needs to have manners. I don’t see how having your kids say hello and thank-you and pepper their sentences with please is such a chore. For anyone, the kids or their parents. It’s just good sense and quite simply good behaviour. It hurts my eyes to see people talk down to waiters, shop attendants and worse act cocky and like they are god’s gift to the universe. I seriously don’t see that many people say thank-you that often and am often met with rolling eyes and smirks when I say thank-you to a cabbie.

    Children that aren’t taught manners, grow up as graceless adults- which is never a good thing be!

    • SO TRUE. At the end of this ad when the kid walks away, all I am thinking is – but he didn’t say thank you to the old shopkeeper. Its just so horrific to see this being advertised. It’s just another reason why kids shouldn’t watch TV.

  2. I go to parties and see dads in one corner discussing cricket and moms gossiping in the other corner about fashion and bollywood while kids run around and fight with each other as if it’s a communal daycare. Parents don’t remind kids that they are guests in someone else’s house and they better mind their manners.
    Also I don’t understand the sense of entitlement the kids have and parents indulging them. I feel sorry for these young ones who grow up with all these entitlements expecting the same when they are adults with no achievements to deserve them.

      • You know, just like you are doing great with contemporaries being jerks(remembering your petty coworkers from your past job), they will do fine. I have decided to devote my time and energy in developing meaningful friendships or focusing on my child’s well-being, or learn something new every year. Last year it was ballroom dancing, this year I might try an art class.
        Talking about such bullies who push smaller kids around, they grow up to be bigger bullies. As long as they are not the people I work with, I don’t bother getting into their good books.

          • I don’t think you were a coward( i have read your post about your bitchy office women). Some people are toxic and its best to be away from them. They drain your energy and take away your zest for for life. They suck.

            • Sigh. Yes, that is what I thought too. i fought them for a long time and then I realised that the time and energy I spent on them could be better used elsewhere. To say nothing of the endless commute. But thank you for the vote of confidence πŸ™‚ always feels good.

  3. MM, Very very true. Im trying hard to teach him to say ‘Thank You’ and I see the other parents at the day care staring at me saying – He’s still too young to say that. My idea is that HE gets the thought of saying thank you when offered something and someday he will start saying it at the right moment! I dont think its too early as he has begun to repeat words and generally follow what we speak and everytime someone says this to me I wonder if Im turning out to be a Mom-zilla! :-O and my son’s going to hate me for all this discipline and manners that his peers will not know!

  4. I agree kids these days seem very aggressive, and the new age let kids discover themselves is not helping either.
    Kids are kids and they will NEVER understand how to behave unless we tell them what is right and what is wrong. Atleast that is the ‘philosophy’ I prescribe to. There is a lot of this new age thing here in the US too, but even those parents teach their kids please/thank you/sorry etc. I hope those poor kids learn their manners from somewhere otherwise they are going to be messed up adults.
    They have just one childhood, so why not mould them so they will be loved by all rather than being hated on by their peers? Makes sense no?

  5. Tell me about it!!! And I don’t know if I am right, but I see this mostly in bigger cities and nuclear families. Living in Calcutta till I was about 12, I was brought up in a certain way. Which I thought was the only way. And then I saw Bombay. Dude…I am still shocked. Everything about them ( not all, of course) was so rude, selfish, materialistic! And I see more and more of that everywhere today. I am taking my kids and running back to some gaon, but then practically speaking, the parents should be made to pass tests proving that they are eligible to be parents! πŸ™‚

  6. It’s shocking when something as basic as manners is being categorized as the mother being too firm. Adi is going to be three and I believe, like you, that while there maybe some things you learn from example, wishing someone the time of the day or saying thank you doesn’t come under that. The other day a nine or ten year old boy came barreling down the sidewalk and plowed right into me. He stepped away and said “watch where you are going”. His dad/ whoever that was didn’t bother to say a word. My blood boiled over. Whatever happened to excuse me, or I am sorry? That is just being horribly rude. And god help A, if I ever catch him doing something like that. If that makes us “strict” mothers, then so be it. The world will thank us later.

    • Yeah? But what about our kids? Will they thank us for bringing them up polite when the world is rude? I feel like slapping that rude ten year old kid. And his father too.

      • I wanted to write something on these lines, but I thought why to discourage you na? πŸ™‚ Seriously at times I wish I had the cheek to give it right back where it hurts the most, instead of being meek and submissive. Most in my circle would see it as a lack of “guts”. Being silent probably takes more strength, but its rather unsettling to be perceived as a sissy and unsmart, when you know you have more spunk than most. Aarrghh…I am quite sour about this issue.

  7. Thankfully, my colony kids are quite well behaved and I’ve never encountered rude kids. One day a 8 year old was cycling around. He first wished me “hello aunty”. When I said hello back, he said ” you are looking very beautiful today”. He truly made my day πŸ™‚

  8. just this morning i reminded my 4 year old to ask nicely. she sat down for breakfast and was in need of a fork to finish her fruits and this was what she said-FORK! rather arrogantly. doesn’t take me much to blow my fuse…she got it good from me. reminding can be frustrating but as parents, we need to keep at it, so kids recognize how important manners are.
    in the US, most parents are diligent about teaching their kids manners, something i dont see often in India. schools also emphasize on it a lot and it starts as early as pre-kindergarten.
    I am so proud of you MM for blogging about this important issue. it is a basic tenet of life that is sadly overlooked. perhaps the most important lesson we ought to teach our kids. Enjoyed reading Samina’s article. Frankly, I feel like smacking parents like that mom in her piece.

    • Same here. Often the Bean will sit at the table, point to her glass and say – Water. Or, Give me water. I stare at her pointedly until she says Please. Glad you agree, babe. And yes, schools abroad teach manners. here there is such a fight for college seats that manners are the least important thing.

  9. Is it a part of modern parenting philosophies? I don’t know. I think such behaviour has always existed. I remember when I was 5 yrs old (that would be 20 yrs ago!), we spotted a tiny kitten in our building compound and were playing with it. I walked to the other side for a minute, and when I came back, the kitten was dead. One of the boys had kicked and stamped it till it died. I’ve never been able to forget that image. I burst into tears and told my mom about it, who in turn went to tell his mom. His mom laughed and said he kicks too much these days. That’s it. Not a word to him. Can you believe that?

    And during my childhood, we had other instances when other kids would come home and ask for chocolates. and then grab them out of your hands without a word of thank you, some other kids would refuse to share, etc.

    So I think, lack of manners has always been a problem. It might have become worse now, with all these parenting books advocating such behavior. It is sad.

    • Okay that is just a bad parent. But today I see so many people who will stand by and watch your kid be hit by theirs and say, oh, he’s just tired. Or watch their kid refuse to share toys in his own house and say -oh, he’s a little possessive about his stuff. Or watch him shove you off his cycle and say – oh he needs some space.

      In those days you could call it bad parenting or careless parenting. Today these parents actually justify it and expect that you accept it with good humour. I am slowly moving away from such parents and kids because I refuse to let my kids be treated badly because some other parent thinks their kid is developing his sense of self and must do it via bullying mine.

    • OMG! How can parents not realise that cruelty to helpless animals is very very wrong and needs to be taken seriously? I was watching some serial killer documentary – a number of them started off being cruel to animals!

  10. 😦 I know what you mean. But being polite doesn’t equate to being weak or a sissy, no? I know there is a line there. The trick is to make our kids realize that as well.

  11. I couldn’t agree with you more. BUT – my kids have hardly any manners. This despite teaching them all this from the time they could sit up. OUt of a mixture of shyness with strangers, embarrassment, and god-alone-knows-why – my older one who is 10 will not greet people who come home, will not say good bye without prompting, will not say please, sorry or thank you without being prodded. My daughter will use all of these a LOT when she’s in the mood and will not at all – when she chooses 😦 So my kids come across as those boors – but not for any lack of trying – constantly – on my part :(. I often feel like crawling into a hole when i see them behave – but the saddest part is most people seem to think this sort of behaviour is OK. It never is. I’m actually excessive in my use of please, thank you and sorry – and they still don’t learn. Any tips? I’m miserable!

    • I refuse to believe you. But more importantly, you said you try. It’s not like they’re lost causes na? Just keep saying it. I know its embarrassing for my kids, but if they say hello, I pull them aside and gently remind them – This aunty is older than you, so you say good morning, not hello. They might not say it immediately but they have heard it. I’ve done my duty. I can die happy.

      • Err…Whats wrong with the kids saying “Hello X Aunty/Y Uncle” back?
        Now I’m filled with dread to think that someone somewhere is thinking – “How rude! This little person is younger than me and just said hello back…” when my soon-to-be-four year old promptly says hello back, and that too with a smile :(((

        ( I hope this is like the fork&knife thing -different cultures use them differently (Americans and Europeans use them differently) -so now there is a happy middle path that most people follow.)

  12. Wow. That article was shocking. I am sure we see that sort of thing in a lot of places, but out here, generally, respect (for property, space, person) is foremost.

    Winkie is generally very tight lipped on most counts and even now, at age 8, I have to keep prompting him to speak the courtesies required. He comes to my office 3 days a week and works quietly in the conference room, and everyday before we walk in, we have a prepping session, where he is reminded how to talk. So when my office manager says, “Hi Akhil, how are you doing?….earlier, he would have just said “Fine” with a shy smile. But now he has learnt to go one step further and say…”I am doing good. How are you?” And they laugh everytime he asks that back, because they know the preparation that has gone into it. πŸ™‚

    • See – that is what I meant! He could come and sit quietly too – as the person below (SK) argued. But that isn’t well mannered and I KNEW you’d agree. Kids must learn to say namaste/hello/goodmorning to elders. Its basic decency.

      • Abso MM. I do agree and wholeheartedly. Good manner is not just good manners, it is a validation that you make to the person you are conferring it upon, that you value him. Even if he is a stranger or friend. It is a basic human right, I would think.

        Thambi’s teacher, Uma’s sons are much older, in high school and middle school. And everytime they see me, they greet me, not just as ‘Aunty’, but as ‘Tharini Aunty’. How are you doing Tharini Aunty?” And everytime they do that, I feel soo….. good. That these older kids have so much of patience in them to register me on their radar, I who they have no reason to expect anything from. But its just the way they have been raised, and I feel such goodwill towards them. And I long for that kind of sweetness and charm from me own.

        Its a bit of an uphill process with Winkie, because he really is very tightlipped. Even when he is on the phone with grandparents, I have to coach him for a good 5 min before, not to give monosyllablic replies and to explain and expand on whatever he talks about. Its quite ridiculous to me sometimes, the level of effort I have to put in with him, to open up, at least when the situation dictates it. But I know if I don’t know, he will have such a hard time with communication later on, and that is so painful to undergo as an adult.

        Reading your post impresses upon me the extra ways in which I can make some effort, and where I have gotten lax. Because, it IS tiring to keep policing them! Phew!

        • That’s another thing. I am sure people will nitpick if I bring it up but we were taught to take the name and say it – to show that you value the person and register their presence. And you are right. No one needs to say it at age 4. But if I don’t start teaching at age 4 then at age 24 they still won’t know better and it will be my fault.

          The Brat too is tightlipped. And I totally get your problem. I have to coach before EVERY event. Yes, even a phone call. Its painful and frustratiing but I cannot imagine giving up. It would seem like a bit of a failure to do my duty by him. And yes, its bloody tiring πŸ˜€

          • Ok, I have a personal triumph to toot here. Today, we went to the office as usual, Winkie and I, and it was one of those days when I didn’t prep him. We walked in, and the office manager said hello. He said hello back, and then as an afterthought added….How are you?. It had her smiling so widely, I could tell she was pleased. He did the same thing with a colleague a bit later, and just that initial pleasantry had them engaged in a whole conversation after that, where he got my colleague, to teach him how to use the printer. I was pretty pleased that some effort had paid off. πŸ™‚

        • This is similar to the problem I face with my 7 year old, Tharini. Though she talks nineteen to the dozen at home or with people she is more comfortable with, she is not very open with courtesies when it comes to people we don’t meet that much.
          Like the other days, though she is comfortable with her Piano and Taekwondo teachers and tells them details about her life when I am not around, in front of me she gets very conscious and mumbles a quick “Hello” or “Thank You” to them.
          I don’t know why that happens and I have to constantly keep talking to her about this !!! Maybe it is the age but there are times I fly off the handle and give her a good earful and then some days I just let go.

          MM, agree totally but more than practiced courtesies I hate it when the kids are the pushing/shoving/rude kind and the parents don’t utter a word.

          • I think courtesies make kids self conscious. Developing the confidence to do it is something we need to work on. I have the same prob with both kids very often. A gentle reminder usually works or even a glare. And yes – absolutely. There is no question that the hitting, shoving and pinching is worse than not saying hello.
            Not saying your courtesies is not a crime – it just comes across as ill mannered. But the rest just fall into the one tight smack category!

  13. Maybe because I live in a smaller city or may be its my building or may be I am just plain lucky but I have very little to complain about the children and mothers I meet. We went to a birthday party yesterday, and it was lovely to see thirteen well behaved children. Other day we had a couple and their two children for dinner, and though the boy was little aggressive and I saw the parents struggling but they were definitely trying their best. I guess as long as the parents are doing their we are all very tolerant of what kids do.

  14. After a college function a group of seniors were distributing sweet packets. I received mine and said “Thank You”. The guy who handed me the packet stopped, stared and commented, “I’ve been handing out packets for the past half hour and you were the first to say thank you!” I was embarrassed that day that my friends who collected their packets after me did not bother to thank him either 😦 Simple words can make so much difference, a ‘please’ and a ‘thank you’ could make someone’s day! I wish parents would teach their kids well and persist till the kids realize the power behind being well mannered.

  15. My sis and I were always taught to say hello to people – you could meet them at the market, in the lift or they could be visiting. All the more so if someone was visiting us, even if only for coffee. Sitting in our rooms and refusing to come out and say hello was never tolerated. It is a namaste for all friends and for family, it is a more religious word of greeting. I’ve been doing this all my life and it infuriates me that my older cousin still makes fun of me for doing that. She has 2 kids and we see them every week. There hasn’t been a single instance when either of them came and said a namaste, of their own choice. That is rude and much as they are family, I find it so hard to look beyond such a lack of manners. Which leads me to thank you’s – they get gifts regularly from all of us and I am yet to see that look of absolute delight (which really is the only reason you want to gift kids!). Such a sad state of affairs.
    Especially when there are also kids like my friend’s 2.5 year old, who greets me with the happiest hello’s and thaaaaaaaangyoo’s. Such a refreshing change! πŸ™‚

    • Please stop giving them gifts. You are too generous. Let them learn to say thank you first.

      I notice my brother handles this far better than I do. He will very gently reach out a hand and put it around the kid and say – Don’t you want to say thank you? And he’s done this before he had kids or even got married. Or else hunker down at the child’s level and say ‘Do you mean Please may I …. ‘

      I found it remarkably well done for someone without kids. Particularly since I am still very stiff and can’t handle rudeness as smoothly.

  16. Absolutely. “New age parenting” or whatever that might me may help dealing with kids differently from say 2 generations ago where a whack to the butt would solve everything. But that doesn’t mean parents don’t atleast tell their kids. It may take a few tries – but eventually it does enter their heads.

    My li’l one tends to bite if he gets really upset and feels helpless/unable to defend himself. The headmistress thinks he is aggressive…but to the contrary he is actually scared and upset when he bites. Whatever be the reason, we’ve been trying to teach him how to use words and not teeth to express himself. I always worried if he really understood what we were trying to explain to him when the other day, another kid tried to bite him and he said, “don’t bite, biting hurts”. Whew – SOMETHING got through!

  17. I believe the parents’ behavior has an influence on the kid too. If the dad hasn’t heard of the words ‘sorry’ & ‘thank you’ and the mom just scurries through the market street pushing everyone on her way, there is no surprise the kid would start doing that later. Their lessons definitely begin from their homes.
    My uncle and aunt wore a proud grin on their face whenever their son did some sort of mischief. It was not limited to his house ,siblings & friends, he used to drag them into the neighbor’s house. He broke their expensive wall clock ( how a 4 year old could do that, beats me totally!), they shrugged and bought them a new clock. That’s it. Mera bhai sudhra hi nahi!
    It’s shocking to know that this ‘siddhanth’ is taught not only to kids, but also to the grown ups. I watched the movie Action Replayy last night. Aishwarya Rai is this bully who always tortures the meek Akshay Kumar. The reason she gives is “I am a single mom’s girl. Is duniya mein jeena hai to sabko laath marke jeena hai..”.
    I mean …No hope, no hope πŸ˜€

    • bang on. The parents who don’t object to their kids behaving badly are often pretty ill mannered too. So you’re at such a loss as to what to say.
      As for Aishwarya Rai – don’t get me started on her onscreen or offscreen πŸ˜‰

  18. i read the line “he says hello only if he likes you” and remembered our conversations when you girls suggested using this with mothers who go on and on about how quiet he is. so i am thinking maybe this woman has been through it too often!

    that said i am a BIG sucker for manners. So is M. we NEVER forget please and thank you. M has this wonderful habit of asking the name of folks who helped / served us and shaking their hands and saying thank you using their name. and we do all this unfailingly. yet Cub refuses to. he is defiant to the point of just clamming up or acting funny which almost borders of rude. I know he is on defensive because we have had some huge showdowns in public that now when i look back on, I am totally ashamed of! 😦

    Now we tell him to say hello or wish once and then leave it at that because i have realized that more we tell him, more he goes defensive. but then he is a good kid otherwise. he shares his stuff fairly easily and rarely gets aggressive. yet, i never stop being embarrassed of lack of manners even though he understands it perfectly well.

    some day he will change… I live in hope!

    • LOL! See that is because I know you and you were concerned. And because the others were ill mannered enough to question him. I’d not start questioning you on your son’s shyness. Because that would make ME ill mannered. I might think it, but I’d stay quiet.

      Also, i believe there is no need for showdowns, but its always nice to say, X, say hello to aunty. If he doesnt, I’ve tried and I follow up with a smile, a shrug and an apology like – Sorry, we’re working on this.

      That way the other person feels mollified at their hello not being responded to, and understands that I have manners and am teaching my child even if the child is refusing to grasp for whatever reason.

      • Totally MM. we do that every single time. but now we get off at that. and talk to him every now and then about it. keep using how he is a big 4yo boy card now as well.

        but i would hate to have a shy child bundled up with the arrogant and boorish lot being talked about here. Shyness is not really an excuse since its rarely a learnt behaviour. so i think its unfair to read it as bad manners, where as arrogance and aggression is very learnt and totally not acceptable.

        Cub maybe a shy child but he does not qualify as rude by any standards. His lack of manners stem from being and introvert and lack of confidence. but then one keeps working on that! πŸ™‚

        • I think you’re making a mistake here Abby. There’s a time and an age for everything. A 3-4 year old should know better than to hit. Being shy is fine but IMHO the parents should keep reminding even if the child doesn’t respond because this is the age to learn these things.

          But there is no excuse for a 10 year old to either hit or be boorish. And I don’t see why one would lump poor baby Cub in that rude and aggressive category.

          • you do know i agree! hehe!

            so one keeps telling and showing by example! i can already see the improvement, but with new people it still does take some time. and that is ok. one day at a time, one new person at a time! πŸ™‚

            • He’s only a teeny baby. And he knows that the earth moves around the sun, which is more than you or I knew at that age, missy! πŸ™‚

          • oh! and the boorishness and lack of manners continues forever i think!

            just the other day we took Cub took the doc, twas fairly khaali when we went. as it got crowded, M quickly emptied the seat for a woman with a small baby. but another young guy refused to get up till the end inspite of seeing other standing mothers. and the woman in question, well she was no less rude. didnt even thank M for giving up the seat. that it is a done thing maybe true, but no harm in saying a simple thank you, innit?! sigh!

            • No, getting up for women is not a done thing. It’s not a law. It’s a courtesy. If someone is courteous enough to give you a seat you should have the manners to return the courtesy and thank them.

  19. Coincidentally after reading your blog piece, I read this article (don’t get bogged down by the technology there!) – – which essentially tacks about the decency or rather, the lack of it! I particularly loved the last lines of the article:

    “And above all, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t remind the current breed of entrepreneurs and investors that, in the final analysis, a billion dollars isn’t actually all that cool. What’s cool is keeping your soul, whatever the financial cost.”

    I am appalled at the headlines I read in newspapers – without an iota of decency or humanity – especially when writing about death, missing persons, rape. While I understand that the click through rate is important and page hits are what the newspapers live by, it also shows that they are ready to stoop down to any level to attract attention. Reading the article(s) made me think/realize that the kids are just a reflection of their parents and I think, we as a society, have come to a state where everything goes as long as you make money. The new world adage is probably “All is fair if you make money” and I guess that attitude is rubbing on the kids as well.

    • Funny you should bring this up. I was thinking the very same thing some days ago. I no longer get a newspaper, I glance through the main news on the websites and I stay away from the tabloids unless I’m really bored and out of things to read. Because most often, the sab kuch chalta hai attitude creeps into everything.

  20. I often lament that it is the kids who grow up in the U.S.A who are like that – imagining that kids in India always talk nicely saying “Hello Aunty” and ask about others they know in the family etc…and it is only the U.S kids who grow up w/out too much family around and have organized play dates who don’t do that naturally. I always insist to KB (sometimes even if the other parent doesn’t bother reciprocating as nicely and just starts jabbering into conversation with me or another adult) and KG that they should look the person in the eye and say hi and if they say “Hi, How are you?” they shouldn’t just say “Good” and walk off, they have to answer “Good, thank you. How are you?” and ask about them also in return. It is kind of shocking to me to read this because it is not the impression I have of kids being raised in India…the culture is changing a lot looks like. I feel embarrassed as a parent if my kids don’t say thank you immediately and they are just dreaming and looking at the thing in hand…I just don’t get parents who don’t get the difference between teaching children to be courteous and ruling them with an iron fist. I too feel sometimes one shouldn’t be too too strict – I know one parent who will just impose a super long time out and prayer time and what not at the slightest hint of raising his voice while talking to the parents…I find such things excessive and makes the kid kind of submissive and afraid…

    • No ya Noonie. And as you can see from the arguments, people think its okay not to wish. How did shyness become an excuse for having no manners?! Isn’t that the entire point? You have a kid who can’t eat with his fingers – you teach him. You have a kid who can’t look adults in the eye – you work with him.

      Why do we give up all our responsibilities towards our kids saying that parenting is hard enough? Dude of course its hard! What were you thinking of when you signed up for it? And if you have signed up, then do a good job. Ours are the kids that the others who arent procreating, are cursing for being rude, cranky and having a sense of entitlement.

  21. I actually winced when I read about the punching in the article. HOW is this justifiable, never mind new age parenting? 😐
    And as for manners, I see a lot of boorishness among my own peers too. I’m 23. I get laughed at for saying thank you to auto-wallahs and shopkeepers and waiters. It’s stopped bothering me now.

  22. Right on the dot MM… my points (and strugles as I bring up my kids) exactly! why why WHY is it that our generation of young parents think this way? WHY is arrogance a new intelligence? Didn’t we learn ANYTHING from our parents???

  23. U know MM , you speak about kids….but I find that even adults struggle with manners. So it’s probably the trickling down effect?

    Generally many friends complain that I’m overly formal. My husband tells me he doesn’t get why there are so many Thank Yous and Pleases exchanged between my parents and me. For me, that’s not formality. It’s just manners n I agree..I do tend to feel very sorry or very apologetic….but I’d rather have it that way than be someone who doesn’t show gratitude.

    In the U.S it’s a norm to say β€œHello, How are you?” to anyone u walk by. And you know what? Some Desis…yes that’s us Indians…will say hello to the amrus but will ignore or just stare at other Indians. Is that ridiculous or what?? How can one expect anything better from children of such adults?

    • Yes, the OA always considered me formal – but why shouldn’t I be formal with strangers? I save the informality for good friends and family. Isn’t that the diff between formal and informal.

    • Couldn’t agree more with you PV. I have been a proud recipient of the ‘I-smile-they-turn-away’ award many times. I know its hard to get used to the stranger greetings in the US initially, especially if we come from a society that doesn’t practice it but why not adapt and inculcate the habit – it sure is a good one.

  24. Is it just the kids? I have had my peers tell me I am flirting/over-indulging/being-too-nice when I am just being polite.
    I was brought up with the ‘be polite and well mannered to everyone’ maxim drilled inot my head. And most of my collegaues and even some friends cant seem to distinguish good manners and flirting. This is especially so in case of dealings with shopkeepers, resaturant waiters, janitorial staff etc.. Just the fact that I smile and thank them or wish them is incoprehensible to a lot of my Indian colleagues..

  25. everyone has pet peeves. yours seem to be manners and bullying, cause i’ve read quite a few rants on your blog. as someone upthread pointed out, these things are hardly new. they existed much before “space, development, choice” became buzz words. i remember, a girl (she went on to become my friend) in first grade class. she would hardly talk, not look you in the eyes, much. it was called selective mutism. she got picked on by kids and adults. as a kid, i hated this and became protective of her. it took time, but she opened up to people who took the effort and did not judge without knowing. we lost touch since she moved away. your post reminded me of her and her parents. it was not her, but the people who struck her off without knowing much about her, that had a problem. my own child is social, but i don’t expect it or think less of kids that aren’t. not every child that does not greet an adult politely has selective mutism, but unless i know why, i am not going to sit in judgment. this parenting gig is hard enough without having to deal with other parents holier than thou attitudes :0

    bullying is a greater problem. i do take that quite seriously, no one has the right to hurt others. it comes from a mean place and for that, i have no understanding or patience.

    • Absolutely – rudeness and bullying are HUGE peeves with me. So I will ‘rant’.
      And yes, clearly you and I have very different ideas of what is polite interaction with an acquaintance or stranger – for instance I would never respond to a post with a comment like ‘holier than thou’ unless I meant to give offence. Is that your intent? If we want to continue interacting in my space I expect you to put your point across in a politer way.
      You may not judge kids who don’t greet and neither do I – but I do judge their parents who stand by and say nothing instead of prompting their kids.
      I don’t know why our generation (actually I don’t know if you are our gen) always whines about ‘this parenting gig being hard’ because I don’t see what the big deal is. This is parenting – there’s no hard or easy – it just is. Our parents brought us up to be well mannered, polite, decent human beings without skipping entire chapters saying that this is too hard.
      Laid back is good. I don’t expect kids to come and recite awful nursery rhymes to me. But I’d hate to think we’ve thrown common courtesy by the wayside because this parenting gig is too hard! This is part of our job – to teach our kids. If we think its too hard, we shouldn’t take it up.

      • no offense meant. parenting is hard. period. it’s not a whine. it’s a fact. parents of previous generations did what they had to without much talking, blogging or sharing. but we do that these days. because the family unit as we know is gets smaller and smaller. earlier it took a village, now we’ll be lucky if we get good daycare and educational institutions we can trust our children with. we leave them (at least in India) to household help. no one said nor implied that parenting is hard ergo instilling good manners is too much to care about. i think it was pretty self-explanatory. i don’t know that child nor what his/her parenting consists of from a few instances of not following social niceties. it’s really not my place. i will reserve that for truly bad behavior. this again reminds me of two sisters in school, angels where manners were concerned but out of a person’s earshot extremely condescending remarks. manners can be instilled but character not.

        • Cool. None taken in that case.

          Yes the family unit is getting smaller but that doesn’t exonerate us from our duties. It’s still our job to instill the best in our kids. And as time goes by, i feel the best is less to do with good daycare and educational institutions and more to do with teaching them basic courtesy, compassion and consideration. You did say that parenting is not easy and that you wouldn’t sit on judgment. I am not asking you to sit on judgment… but I will say that too many people are getting lax about parenting and dropping a lot by the wayside. Clearly you don’t think much of a child being ill mannered either and therein lies the rub.

          A rude child is a rude child. And I’m not really going to follow him and the parents around for a month to see how good their parenting is. Manners are all about the here and now – if you can’t say thank you for a gift when you receive it, I will consider you ill mannered – how smiley and sweet you are at home has nothing to do with you not knowing how to behave. That is what manners and social graces mean – behaviour in public.

          Shying away from a stranger is fine if you’re 3 years old. But if they continue to do it at 10, and the parents don’t correct them, I feel sorry for the kids and the fact that no one has bothered to teach them better. I know I would avoid kids who are rude, ill mannered or badly behaved and keep my kids away from them. And frankly I don’t blame the kids – parents don’t take them out to social situations often enough for them to meet and greet people, when they do take them out and the kids behave wildly, they excuse it with – oh they’re just kids. Of course they are kids – but what are the parents doing while the kids play up hell? I often have the kids revolt and go dumb on me. In which case as a parent I hasten to apologise and say the thanks you and pleases. Someone has to remember how to behave!

          And what has this got to do with character???? No one said the two are mutually exclusive. Why mix issues? If you know nothing of a child’s parenting from a few instances of not following social niceties then what do you imagine you will know of the child’s real nature/character? Is there a rule against being both well mannered and having ethics? Or are you suggesting that as long as one has character one can dispense with manners and go whooping down the road screaming, shouting, waking up the neighbourhood and behaving like a hooligan?

          I think we have come to a stand off here. Clearly you are unconcerned about manners – which is fine. I’d like to think that character is a basic (you can do nothing if a child viciously kills animals) and above as parents one can try and teach etiquette, social niceties and conduct. Of course that is the point of the post. You don’t need to agree – and that is perfectly fine. However, I’d request you once again not to bolster your arguments in future with lines like ‘holier than thou’ etc because that is just incendiary – and the consequences are clear.

          • it’s interesting. i often echo my thoughts on a blog patterned on the blogger’s writing style. quick to take offense, jump to judgments and picking out phrases to twist are some observations on your blog. “holier than thou” was not a bolstering line. it was used to describe an attitude quite prevalent these days in the parenting world. being honest here, not defensive. it’s your blog but comments are not always going to be in line with your opinions. funnily, there are a few mom blogs like tharini’s and ro’s which come straight from their hearts without all the drawbacks mentioned above, that i respond positively to. i understand the point of the post, but not the quickness to tar all children and their parents with the judgment brush for not greeting. there is so little genuineness going around today. all the pat niceties don’t change that.

            • Actually I’d say the same for your comment. since you mention Tharini and Rohini, both old blogging friends I’ll point out that we’re all different people and naturally will have different writing styles. Comparisons between us are childish so please avoid that in the future. And oh – Ro and T disagree with me very often (respectfully!), yet we connect beautifully and go far beyond the blog in our friendship. As I said in another comment, people will only take from a post what they choose to and read between the lines what they choose to. The post was less about kids who don’t greet and more to do with aggression. I am quite disappointed that all you took back from the post was that social niceties are important. Perhaps you should think about that.

              When you read a blogger you slowly learn where they are serious or where they are joking. Because you have their entire body of work to figure that out from. With a commenter, all you have is one comment in a vacuum that can make or break a relationship as writer and reader, so the onus is on the commenter to ensure that their point comes through politely since they are addressing the blogger directly. I also understand that there are often personality clashes. For every one person who doesn’t like my style, there are 35 who have been reading and commenting for years now. Incidentally, Ro and T have had their share of trolls too – the more often you write, the more trolls you are bound to get.

              Contrary to what you imagine, I am one of the few bloggers who rarely deletes dissent which is why you get to see so much of it – and I take the time out to reply even if it is rude or negative. The simplest thing (I know atleast 50 mommy bloggers who do it), is to hit delete. The comment thread stays squeaky clean and so does the blogger’s image. I don’t care two hoots for my image – I’d rather respond and get it done with. Go back through the thread and see that plenty have disagreed. Not just today but for the last many years. The only thing is that I pay in the same coin.

  26. I’m so confused. We grew up in a middle class colony in Bombay. We all in unison would chant Good Morning Aunty/ Uncle without fail. And when I grew up and was full of teenage angst, I was still asked to come out of my bedroom, say hello to the adults at the party my parents were throwing and mingle. So what changed? My parents spoke poor Hindi, accented English and were strangers to Bombay and still had these basic tenets down in terms of developing relationships. What changed? I don’t get why most of us who were raised this way think less of it.
    I do get tired of forced niceties and excessive social commitments when I go back home but never of the authentic manners that are part of any interaction.

    • Ditto. I cannot think of not coming out of my room and saying hello to the adults during a party. We were expected to come and serve the snacks and post-18 we asked after their drinks etc. Even if it was an adult party we HAD to do a round of hellos, stop and talk to every single person and depending on the occasion, play waiter!

  27. You’re going nowhere. Stay right here and help sustain sanity! Yes, freedom and creativity and self-discovery are all very well, but NEVER at the cost of basic etiquette, no sir. I get shy children. I get wallflowers and the ones that find social interaction painful, but a minimum level is a must, or *they’ll* need to be shipped off to Mars at some point. As a person who has worked with young children for the last decade and a half, I can assure you–you’ve got it right. And yes, it starts early. Preschool-age early. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

  28. I’m a bit conflicted about this. My parents did insist on all the courtesies – at a party you had to go and kiss every older person on the cheek (yech!) – but I was a shy kid and I hated it. So I kind of sympathise with kids who don’t do it.

    But I would find it weird if kids walk into a room and don’t greet anyone there, at least the hosts. Actually, I may not find it weird if other kids did it, just not my kid. So my rule of the thumb would be (this is future tense since my kid is a baby) – greet those near you and who catch your eye and if someone says something to you, give some response, ideally verbal. No need to go around the entire room greeting.

    See all this greeting and attention was excrutiating for me growing up and althogh my parents insisted on it, it remained excrutiating until I turned much more confident at 23! So I get it when a kid just smiles shyly. I guess I can tell the difference between arrogance and shyness.

    I’m not so big on formality so I think Hello Aunty is fine (not specifically Good Morning – getting the time of the day right was another painful thing). Personally, I don’t care whether kids address me as Aunty or not. Not sure whether I will insist that my kids call everyone Aunty/Uncle – many people don’t seem to want to be called Aunty-Uncle these days, I guess I’ll have to guess based on the age of the person.

    I am bad with please and thank you myself (cannot blame my parents for this, they did insist on it). I try to convey it with tone of voice rather than the actual words. But I suppose it comes across as rude so I am trying to incorporate that.

    God, I just realised I am really socially inept. Even if someone says Thank You to me, I’m not sure how to respond. Somehow I think you’re welcome seems fake. So I get all flustered. Heh. I guess the husband will just have to take over this aspect of parenting. But I agree with parents making some kind of basic effort even if the kid is like I was as a kid… maybe I won’t go as far as you (insisting on Good Morning instead of Hello) but yeah, something.

    • Shyness is never a good enough reason for me. the Brat is a goodnatured but shy kid. I think the entire point is that it is excruciating for a child which is why you need the parent to remind. I am fine with kids only greeting those who catch your eye and not walking around an entire room greeting. But they MUST respond if an adult asks them something – not responding is just plain rude – be it a child or an adult. and if they meet a friend/acquaintance of their parents – as the younger generation, it is their job to wish first. None of this comes easy or naturally and I’m going to be at it for another 10 years I am sure before they are able to do it smoothly… but I won’t stop trying. And yes, I am very big on formality so time of day is important to wish, no casual hello. And definitely ‘Thank you for having us/a lovely party’ when they leave a party. It’s a personal preference. Others insist on namaste or touching feet – I am teaching them namaste but I don’t do the feet touching so I don’t make them.
      I don’t care if people call me aunty or not but another rule we have is asking a person what they want to be called. Some want Aunty, others want a name, people have picked akka, chachi, maami, maasi… anything they want. So maybe that is the better rule to go with these days.

      • MM,

        Have you noticed that many teachers in school don’t even bother to respond to a polite ‘Good Morning/Evening’. They don’t even have the basic courtesy to atleast nod. I think naturally, the kid gets confused with authority figures. Inturn the kid might feel judged and rejected. If this is experienced many times, I think the kid turns ‘shy’, no rather fearful would be a better word.

  29. Okay let me throw out a question to you which I have been worrying since yesterday.
    Neev has developed this habit of going and hitting anyone (especially his nani who is with him the whole day). Yesterday when he did the same, I shouted at him. He just looked at me and did it again. I tried telling him in many ways that he should not. I even told him I would spank him to no avail. My mom told me he is too small to be beaten. I still spanked him (though not hard), he tried showing he is hurt. Then goes back and hits my mom again and looks at me. I tried giving him a time out, though I am not sure he understood that either.
    Mom tells me it is better to ignore it when he does this.
    I am worried, he will think he can have his own way with everything. What do I do? All you more experienced people please help me. I would rather die than have an undisciplined son.

    • Well your mom is right on the first count. A lot of kids do things to attract their parents’ attention if they feel that is the only way to get it. This is the kind of statement that comes across as judgmental so I’m going to make that disclaimer. The Bean used to bite her nails and the Brat tends to flop around bonelessly and act weird if he wants my attention. And this considering I spend SO much time with them. But then one human can never gauge how much time and attention another needs so our own opinion on it seems irrelevant.

      But on the second point I disagree with your mom. Just letting him hit will make him think its okay to hit. Which it never is. So I’d suggest that you ask your mom to physically stop him. He’s only a year and not too strong – so just hold his hands away. And keep it held that way until he stops. Atleast that is what I’d do. He IS too young for a whack for this kind of thing because you’re probably also at that stage where you worry about him falling out of the balcony or touching a plug point. I saved my whacks on the butt for dangerous things like that. Because they have no understanding of the pain or danger of a fall or shock.

      Just keep saying No, look him in the eye and hold his hands away from hitting a person. And distract him and let him have attention for some good stuff. Also look out for a pattern. A lot of kids tend to do this when the parents have company – friends or family over. They don’t like to share the parents’ attn. Maybe you can bring in some toys and let him play while you chat around him? Hope this helps.

      • Arey he did all this while I was playing with him. We were just running around the whole house like 2 mad people and suddenly he hit me. I warned him not to do it, so he goes and hits my mom. And continues with it, just to prove to me that he can. He hits her and looks at me!
        I tried holding his hands together to tell him it is not allowed, but that did not work either. The moment I left it, he went and hit her.
        This is something new that has started. Earlier he would listen if we said no to him in a stern voice.

      • I remember being in a community hall on a ‘Dashami’ evening, and the president of the Durga Puja committee was addressing the gathering. As she spoke, her grand-son kept running upto her and giving her big thwacks on her thighs. Like big, hurtful ones. And he was just 1.5 yrs- 2. The lady did try to gently push her grandson away 1-2 times w/out breaking her speech, but couldn’t control him. And not once did the mother who was standing in the crowd come up n take the son away. Rather, she had this indulgent look on her face. To say I was horrified would be an understatement.
        So Deepti, I agree with MM that you need to physically stop your son from hitting your mother, or this behavior will just become worse.

  30. Oh I so so agree to you..R doesnt always say good morning or thank you..but I prompt her and I was pretty surprised when she said thank you all by herself to our maid who gave her the crayon that was under the table while she was sweeping…And the maid was surprised as well πŸ™‚

    Its sad that most people I ask her ot say thank you tell me kya thank you bolne ko seekhato baache ko…I am like if I dont teach her who will..and whats wrong if you say thank you to someone who has helped you…

    We have a mother and daughter (who is about 10) whom we meet everyday when we catch the bus to go to R’s busstop..the lady wishes R good morning and when R is in mood she wishes back otherwise she just waves and smiles…I obviously tell her to say good morning but some days she refuses…the girl on the other hand never even says hello! I wonder how a mother can be so different from the child?

  31. ” I’d skin my kids alive”. What sort of a mother are you? Disgraceful. I am in tears at the thought. I would never even think or joke about doing that to my kids, even metaphorically.

    •’re crying? how sad is that… here’s a handkerchief. That sadly, is the sort of mother I am – one with a sense of humour and perspective. Now you better get back to ‘caring mum’ instead of a cranky one.

        • You don’t? How sad for you. Clearly you have never heard the figure of speech – or even read my blog earlier to understand what sort of mother I am. Never mind – I’ll make a deal with you. You say anything you want about your own kids – and I won’t interfere. And I shall joke about my own kids and you can mind your own business.

            • Please don’t bother – they’re quite safe. In fact I will pray that yours develop a sense of humour and learn not to take themselves quite so seriously and pompously.

          • MY! MY! Sanctimonious so and so 😦 I’m constantly talking of throttling my kids when they are esp cranky and have been dancing on my last nerve all day. Baah!

        • Okay let me ask you this first. Are you a mom already? If yes, I am sure you should already know by now that no mother can really skin a child alive. Not hers, not anyone elses.
          In the whole post is that the only line you read?

          MM – Please feel free not to post this comment, if you think you dont need it on your blog. Guess it just iritated me a bit too much

      • Yayy! A troll after a really long time. I hope she comes back to add her 2 additional cents. Your blog has been calm and nice and peaceful for too long now! :p

  32. The Ad is a complete crap! What are they trying to teach children?
    I agree with you MM. Parenting is the toughest job in the world. You better try hard because you chose it. When I was around 3 or 4 years old, my neighbour’s daughter just threw our transister on the ground for no reason. It broke. Her mother did not even flinch. Not even a ‘why did you do it?’ or a ‘sorry for her behaviour’ to us. But such people were exceptions then. But today, when such exceptions have become examples it is really a sad state.
    My daughter is shy. But we insist that she greets anyone who comes to the house.
    Today, as I was reading this post, she was having her lunch & asked ” Amma, can I have water please?” When I gave her the water, ” Amma, why are please, thank you, sorry and all are good words?” I said” What do you think?”
    “Because, they make me feel nice. When I tell ‘please’ to somebody they also feel nice”

    • i wish there was a “like ” button here, so i could tell you i really like your comment πŸ™‚

      its really nice to see a kid who can understand the crux of good manners- they give that warmth to both the giver and the receiver, and cost nothing!

  33. Most adults have no manners these days!!!! I still have friends who make fun of me for saying “namaste” to their parents or grandparents!! And my colleagues’ table manners – arrrgghhh dont even get me started. So yeah, it’s sad when kids have no manners, but it is not surprising at all.

    • I agree. The OA and I still stand up if an older person walks into the room and if they’re hindi speaking its namaste or else we wish them the time of day. If we don’t do it, how can we teach our kids to do it? dont get me started on table manners.

    • Hi,

      Firstly, thanks for blogging about this, MM. Its just amazing how teaching the basic things like a hello, namaste etc has become a matter of “personal growth” and “they-will- learn- o- their- own”. What’ next- they will learn language on their own as ans wwhen they feel like talking? Or are we going to stop teaching them to walk and “let them find their own feet” literally?

      I share madhu’s views and i think this is a key reason why so many kids today dont seem have any basic manners. I believe it has a lot to do with the way their parents behave. I am astound at the number of my colleagues and aquaintances who think its ok to scream at the waiter or talk down to their domestic help. they would hand our a 10 buck note to the valet or doorman, but wont stop to say thank you. They think its funny when I give my bus seat to any elderly person, or stand up for the national anthem, of any country. Their logic is ” we are paying for this/ he is just doing his job” though i dont quite understand how that buys them the right to be obnoxious.

      but i think the kids pick up on these cues. if the parents dont treat people well,what incentive do kids have to do so?

      if you sit at the table and lean over to pick up salt from 10 places away, how can you expect your kid to say, “Could you pass me the salt, please?” in an appropriately polite voice?

      When we were kids, we used to get a good talking-to if we missed saying “namaste” to anyone elder, and my mom would be quite miserable and would apologise profousely for my lack of manners. that sort of drove the point home to and we understood that it was important and necessary. but if parents dont make it a point to emphasise on the importance of right behaviour, i dont see how its the kid’s fault.

      (PS: of course, some kids will never learn- but i guess the key is to keep trying)

      • Hey Shuchi,
        From all your comments that I can recall – you are single and don’t have kids. Do correct me if I am wrong.
        But take a look at the comments and you will see that lots of kidfree/single people are the ones who are concerned about the increasing lack of manners. Plenty of parents seem to think its okay for kids to be left alone. We don’t pick our kids, we just get what is in our fate. My son for instance is very very laid back and has no killer instinct. So I have to work with it. Similarly, I understand that a lot of kids are shy and their parents are at their wits end as to what to do about it. I’d say they should do the same thing that I keep doing – keep at it. Keep reminding your kids at every single turn that there is a Please, a Thank You or a May I to be added to the sentence. Why do we set such low standards of behaviour for our kids? It’s disgraceful.
        I am so so so happy to see that people without kids have an opinion on this because otherwise it just comes across as judgment from a mother whose kids DO behave decently most of the time. It’s an uphill task to get your kids to behave when others are not. To remind them not to grab the birthday cake when everyone else is doing it. To remind them not to go and ask the hostess for a return gift when others are doing it.
        And people like you, give me hope and remind me that I am not alone.

  34. OK , so you know my son is no angel – he is super energetic and used to think nothing of running amok and almost runs over kids smaller than him. I make it a point to tell him he can run amok in open spaces or the playground but not in narrow corridors and such like or else we will be leaving . But … But I am told ” bacha hi hai . Don’t keep telling him rules”. At which point he’s already taken off because someone just told his mom off .

    And you are complaining of ads . My son said to his grandpa “Now just a minute , you old windbag” all picked up from Jungle Book (Col. Harvey’s wife said that !!!) – kids just know where to pick up crap.While we had a secret laugh, I cringed at it. God knows what lies ahead in the teen years ahead ! Hopefully they’ll run out of steam by then.

  35. I was at an office party yesterday, and a colleague got her 7 year old son along. HE was the only child there, and maybe he wanted attention, but he started grabbing the beer bottles around. The more his mother told him not to, the more determined he became to try out the beer. He had a massive tussle with another colleague over the bottle – finally, when this colleague managed to wrest the bottle away from him and put it up on a high shelf, he started KICKING her! And then, and only then, did his mother come and pull him away – and even after that, she didn’t say a word of reproach to him.

    I haven’t been around little children much (actually, at all) and this incident left me horrified. Throughout the evening, I wanted to whack the kid for his behaviour. And he is 7 years old – clearly old enough to know how to behave among adults!

  36. TOUGH and ARROGANT are not the same. I have seen some parents who let their kids get away with bad behaviour, saying ‘Oh! he’s a tough one’. WTF!

    Courtesies- I wouldn’t push it too much if I had kids. Just gentle reminders….I wouldn’t want them to be too self-concious and miss the fun in my presence.

    Even adults have a problem with courtesies. My friends, especially of the male variety, often tease me – ‘The other day, I saw her thanking the ATM!’. And the worst part is, sometimes kids overtake them. My friend gifted a small piano to a 13 year old. The kid thanked him, went away, unwrapped the gift, came back and said ‘Thank you so much uncle. I can’t believe that you remembered me talking about piano!’ And my friend, poor chap, blushed so badly and didn’t know how to respond. He almost said ‘He he heee….aap mujhe khamakha sharminda kar rahe hain’, in true Alok Nath style.

  37. This is one of my fav topics on yur blog. Out here In Dubai and in Canada where my sister lives, it seems Arab and Pakistani kids are earning a very bad reputation for being jungli. I personally dont believe in that, thats just stereotyping. I do however notice that a large number of young parents seem to be total junglis themselves. I see it as much in India as I see it here too. And it is so easy to see bad behaviour/upbringing manifesting in public places eg: jumping queus(sp?), that is my pet peeve. And bullying. And like you, me and hubster strike off families from our list if they have toxic parenting ideas and practise. More peace that way.
    I remember my mother used to give us a snack before going to a party so me and my brother wouldnt stuff ourselves silly and look ‘jungli’, according to her, ha ha ha! πŸ˜€

  38. Jumping queues is one of pet peeves as well. After being in the US for a while and being used to people being polite and nice, opening doors and stuff, it was an unpleasant feeling when people jump queues. When we visit India, we get laughted at for being nice and saying “Thank You” to waiters/ helpers. It is almost like people have the idea that if you are nice to people, they will take advantage of you.

    Anyways like a lot of people have said here, when adults display rude behavior how can we expect kids to behave well

  39. oh yes my grouse too. somedays i will be balancing 5 shopping bags and laptop etc but not a single kid will say aunty do u need help. my kids- every time we get off the car, i hand them something to carry. let them get the drift of things by doing

  40. Where do you stand on adressing relative strangers as “auny/uncle”? I’ve always hated having to call people other than friends of my parents or parents of my friends “Aunty or uncle”. Especially when it comes to shopkeepers, postmen and other total or relative strangers. I tried “Sir” for a while, but got laughed out of town for that one. My husband recommends I call everybody “boss/madam”, but that just sounds ridiculous. As I’ve gotten older, I realise I hate being called “aunty” by random kids as well, I’m only “aunty” to my friend’s kids. But its hard to escape this over-familiarity in many parts of India where “aunty/uncle” are a way of life.

    • I am confused. I have a half written draft to prove that I haven’t thought this through. I know a lot of people don’t want to be called Uncle/Aunty before they have their own kids. It just makes you feel very old. But I’ve been called Aunty since I was 25 because I had a baby. So I got used to it. The other thing is, do I want some 12 year old chit to call me by my name? I don’t think so. I’m not one for over familiarity either, but younger people can’t maintain boundaries unless there is an honorific attached. The moment I say they can use my name, a lot of them feel free to speak to me in a way I don’t appreciate.
      So I pick aunty over my name anyday. My thumb rule is – is this kid young enough to be my kid? By a slim margin? Okay chalega, call me aunty!
      That said, I always ask people what they want MY kids to call them. So if you elect to be called by your name I’ll shudder, but it’s your choice. If you want athai, maasi, chitthi, maami… whatever.. your call, that is what you get. Maybe that is the new way out?

      • In Americaland, no one calls aunty/uncle. My kids call my friends by Ms first name. I think that’s a good boundary established that way.

      • You know what? A 17 yr old girl called me aunty and I’m 27!!! That was one WTF moment. And her mother whom I call aunty (we are their tenants) doesn’t say anything to it. I don’t know how to react to that so I go with it. Too much I say X-|

        • Smile, shrug and say – “Oh, please don’t call me Aunty, I’d prefer if if you called me L or Didi (or whatever you prefer). We’re not that far apart in age anyway.”
          Sometimes the best thing to do is disarm people…

          • Nothing useful to add πŸ™‚ so will just say, re: addressing folks as uncle/aunty : as an obnoxious teen, I addressed all my parents’ acquaintances as aunty/uncle. This included the newly-wed neighbour who came home often to consult my mother on various aspects of running a home -she couldn’t have been more 6-7 years my senior, but to my 16 year old mind – married=aunty! πŸ™‚ Poor thing tried a few times to get me to call her by name, but she was a fairly timid person and her protests were kinda weak, so I’d smile politely at her “oh please don’t call me aunty” and promptly call/refer to her as aunty again the next day when she showed up!

            This wasn’t even a politeness issue at that time, so yes, times have changed πŸ™‚ My mother was called aunty as soon as she switched to wearing saris – at age 17 or so, she said.

          • Interesting comments on how to address people.:) That said my sons call me and my husband by name not mamma, dada etc. I know most people who read this will be horrified. But they mean no disrespect. My olderone was barely 7 months when he started talking and hearing everyone call me by my name he to started to call me the say way, what started out as cute became a habit which i could not get rid of and the younger one just followed suit.

            While they address the rest of the family and friends appropriately we are just called by our names. Lesson learnt – I should have nipped that habit when he was still young.

            • Meh… I don’t care if kids call parents by name. Who decided it was a criminal offence. I understand that others get offended, but even they can see its a kid who is being worked on by his parents.

          • @ M – ditto! When I was 17 I started calling my young married neighbour “Aunty” too and she couldn’t have been more than 7-8 years older than me. She still lives next door to my parents and now that I’m 29, I feel downright ridiculous calling her “aunty”. I think I need to have a chat with her and apologise for being a doofus πŸ™‚
            @old timer – I apologise on behalf of all silly 17 year olds πŸ™‚ I haven’t had 19 year olds call me aunty yet but I remember my dad’s expression when his friend’s cousin who was visiting us suddenly turned around and called him “uncle”. This guy was in his late 30s and my dad was 45. It was one of those classic comedy movie moments, this guy said “Uncle..something..something” and my dad started looking around to be sure he wasn’t talking to somebody else behind him. So yeah, the ‘uncle/aunty” contagion is not restricted to kids.

  41. This is such a grouse with me too. Starting with the “Doon kya” ad to the “Hum doodh peethe bachey hain” to the one where the kids deliberately knock off bottles/jars in the shop shelves so they can pretend to help the shopkeeper and then get the snack they want, to this one you’ve posted. The arrogance and insolence in kids horrifies me. And I see it all around me, not just in the media, in wee little tikes who don’t even reach my knees. I worry constantly about how my good-mannered, good-natured, mostly-shy daughter will cope with all the attitude that surrounds her. Will the values and manners, morals and lessons I teach be negated when she interacts with those spoiled brats? (And I don’t mean “Brat” like yours. Seriously, please do think of a sweeter name for the sweetheart!!)

    I kid you not, all my 11 grey hairs are the result of this worry!

  42. of course! but again we are talking about people we know…friend’s kids, kids in the neighbourhood etc. Vain as I am, I know I’m pushing 30 and its not a stretch for kids, of any shape or size, to call me “aunty” but I still find it annoying when its a total stranger because the honorific signifies a degree of intimacy to me which does not exist between us. I’m ashamed to admit I almost snapped at a 14-15 year old girl last year in Hyderabad when she grabbed at my arm in a queue and said “Aunty, blah blah blah” in Telugu. I don’t think I would want my imaginary kid to go around calling everybody “aunty/uncle”.

    • LOL! I understand. And I have no solutions. They fear giving you offence no? I mean look at it this way – they do it with the best intentions. When they call you aunty its not because they want you to feel old but because they want to show respect. Yeh alag baat hai that we don’t want such respect shown. Do you have any ideas?

        • It’s not common around here no? Miss is what people call a teacher in school. I understand if you prefer it, but who is to tell the general populace that. On the other hand, if you start saying it, it will no doubt catch on.

          I call older ladies in a railway station or college or whereve, ma’am. And I get weird looks all the time but heck, I don’t want to make all and sundry my aunty either.

          • I remember once we were at the company party, and the daughter of a colleague called me aunty. I asked her to please call me my name. And she said ” oh ok!” and that was that.
            I’m sure she’ll also think twice before referring to someone else as aunty too.

  43. I was talking about the 2nd one didn’t show up till right now…wierd. In HK ppl address me as miss/missy/ma’am/excuse me…all okay by me, I feel respected enough. The more I think about it the more convinced I am that I dislike all unnecessary honorifics. My in-laws are very diligent about addressing each person by the correct suffix as dictated by their relationship. I’ve taken the time to learn all of them but I still find it supremely odd when my SIL, whos only 5 years younger doesn’t just call me by name. Or my husband’s 28 year old niece (cousin’s daughter) sheepishly calls me “pinni”. Enough with the “respect” people!

    • So tell them that na? I think these are places where we can speak up. If you have a good relationship with the inlaws – take each one aside and say, hey, I’d love it if you could call me X. Else like me, shut up and be grateful to be thought of at all, let alone called! :p

      • I share a great relationship with my in-laws even though we are seperated by age, traditions, customs and beliefs. The youngsters couldn’t care less about what they call me but their parents insist they show me the respect due. Its sweet really but I’m thrown off by it because I was brought up in a far less formal environment. Anyway its nowhere as annoying as being called “aunty” πŸ™‚

  44. I was a painfully shy kid but I thank God that didn’t stop my parents from teaching me to say please & thank you & from nudging me to greet people.I do the same with my kids even today ,if they forget.Most times they do it on their own.In this connection , I remember the previous building I lived in very fondly because ALL the kids there ranging from the age of around 3 to college kids would loudly greet every adult cheerfully whenever we came across each other.They still do if we bump into each other.And it makes me feel so good.It really helped my kids take to it more enthusiastically as they were very young then.Sadly in our new place that seems to be lacking in most of the kids .There is absolutely no excuse for a lack of good manners.

      • Yes, we are.If the watchman, the sweeper & the canteen boy who serves tea think so we must be:)
        Who cares if a few colleagues think we’re daft.

  45. Hey MM,
    This is a great post and a lot important for parents. However, I would like to differ to the point that even shy kids need to be taught to wish/talk to everyone around. I was a shy kid, extremely introvert and silent. It pained me whenever I was forcefully taken to some function and made to talk to all and sundry. Most of the times I would end up on the verge of tears in ten minutes. They all just seemed pushy and the only thing I thought was ‘why won’t they just leave me alone?’ One needs to have sometime to her/himself to make acquaintences and get to the point of greeting/talking. It is a comfort level I never had as a kid. And my parents never understood that and insisted on coaching manners forcefully. I ended up rebelling when I grew up and could hold my own.
    Nevertheless (can I start a sentence with that?) I can say that I am quite polite now and talk to anyone easily. I greet people but don’t bother introducing myself in a party to everyone I see. It just took some time.
    On the other extreme my nephew is a devil and has started selectively ignoring the calls for his name. If he is not in the mood, no matter who calls him he won’t respond. It’s like you’re invisible for him. It gets on to my nerves big time and I blow my tops when its unbearable. His mother however, doesn’t think much of this and looks on idulgently. At times like those I wish he was my kid so I could whack him on his bum and teach manners.
    Yes, it’s the parents who are at fault.
    P.S: Lots of luv and hugs for the beautiful Brat and Bean πŸ™‚

    • See I think there are some things that are basic manners. They’re not only thank you and please. They’re also things like not pushing in a queue, or grabbing birthday cake or talking politely to a shopkeeper – like the advt I have linked up to. I was making a larger case but everyone seems to be stuck on please and thank you.
      And no, I don’t expect little children to have full conversations with strangers. But a basic degree is required – come in and say Hello to Aunty and leave. But that much you will, if you know what is good for you, is what my kids know. And they do it. I don’t need them to hug, kiss, talk about school or their best friend. Nothing. That is all up to them. Also, there needs to be a cut off age we’re talking about here. I expect basic thanks and please from a child of four. I expect a little more from a child of 8 – like a few answers on how is school and who is your best friend. Anything above teens and I expect the kids to be able to hold ten minutes of conversation without melting to a puddle.
      See, if a stranger is taking ten minutes out to make conversation, enquire after your health and your interests, there is something to be said for that. And that is what you need to explain to a kid – that if that Uncle/Aunty can make the effort to ask after you, you owe her the same courtesy of answering politely and standing still until she is done. It’s just practice for adulthood. There are so many things we don’t like to do in life and we don’t have to do – in fact they can even politely excuse themselves and go on.
      If this is your nephew I’d say you’re well within your rights to discipline him. My brother is often strict with my kids – No, don’t hit. No, we don’t push each other. OR, Can you say thank you? OR, Would you please go back and pick up that XYZ you dropped? I don’t take offence because they are his family and he cares. At times he will make a joke out of it like – Come here, let me see if there’s an elephant in your ear. No? No elephant? Then how come you can’t hear me calling you? Next time I call you must answer or I will think there is an elephant in your ear.
      All the best with the nephew! πŸ™‚

      • Thats wonderfully said. I needed some space when I was growing up but I would talk. It was just painful. On their part my parents were right to teach me to talk, I don’t know how I would’ve dealt with a kid of that kind.
        Oh that my husband’s nephew alright. I like him so much I call him mine πŸ™‚ But I don’t like his manners one bit. But since it’s my sis-in-law I can’t do anything. No amount of threatening, cajoling or even whacking will make him respond. So stubborn at such young age. I shudder to think what the mother will do in his teens. I try to teach him as much as possible whenever I’m there. But there’s only so much you can do with others’ kids, esp. when the parents are not interested.

        • Sigh. This is a toughie. I don’t know the child and don’t know what will work. But the key to not offending her is keeping your tone light. And smiling. So next time he calls you. Look at him blankly and then joke and say – Hello little boy? Do we know each other? We do? Oh, but you didn’t answer when I called you so I thought maybe you’re a stranger. Or you know, something of that sort. That way the parent can’t take offence. Or you know, cup your hands around your mouth and pretend that you’re calling from a mountain top.. and he’ll smile or joke (how old is he, btw?) and then you can make your point subtly and firmly and say ‘Oh there you are… You’re always lost in your thoughts so I thought I’d have to shout really loud for you to hear me’

          Again – all the best. I am always hesitant about disciplining inlaws’ kids.

          • He’s 7 now and in 1st grade. I’ve heard he is good in school. At home he’s been made to think that he’s the prince. I really want that kid to grow up well mannered. I keep dropping hints to his mother as well. Next time I’ll think of trying out some fo the things you mentioned. But he’s terribly self-centered even at this age. He will come to me only if HE wants something to do with me. Not when I have something to do with him. And when he wants to he can be extremely cute and cuddly. Know what I mean. There’s no way you can’t melt.

  46. Great post. Dont have kids of my own, but i can agree with being brought up to say please, may i, thank you , sorry etc etc. I have a question and would love your (and anyone else’s) opinion on that.
    Let me start with the story part – My SIL’s daughter is about 5 years old. I was visiting my in-laws at around the same time they were down from UK for their annual India darshan. We were all sitting down for dinner and SIL turned on the TV to help the lil kid eat (hate that habit by the way, but she’s in her maika and there’s only so much i can say in my sasural!). It was going well and my niece was behaving like an angel. Till someone (not me!) picked up the remote and changed the channel looking for something else to watch (how many times to watch 3 idiots?!). Then she started shrieking and screaming generally bringing the roof down. Her naani and her mother said oh, dont trouble her etc etc. Basically it was words to the effect that she’s the only little one, being the only grandchild in the family (sideways phattak to me thank you very much) and that she should be allowed tp do pretty much as she pleases. SIL said ‘change kardo varna nahi khaegyi – she needs to eat’. And its pretty much always like this
    I remember thinking that my parents would have whacked me and turned off the TV altogether. Which brings me to my question – can extended family be sidestepped sometimes from common courtesy? Where do you draw the line between being indulgent and spoiling a kid rotten?

    • I’m at a complete loss.
      Point #1 – I know people bend backwards for kids who come from abroad. I spoke about that in my last post about our Bombay-Goa trip. They seem to be exempted from almost everything because they’re in a new environment. Yet you’ll see people complaining about desi kids crying on a flight or somewhere abroad. I don’t see why the same indulgence isn’t granted. Saying anything more here means starting a blog war πŸ˜€ So I shall stop.
      Point # 2 – In your sasural and her maika? Wisdom dictates that you turn a blind eye and say nothing. You’re a SIL and unless you have a great relationship with the kid’s mother I’d be very nervous about saying anything other than plastering a silly smile on my face.
      Point #3 – I don’t think family should be ignored in matters of courtesy. I often put my feet up for the OA to press them. But I would never do it in front of his family because in traditional families that would be frowned upon. So in essence yes I agree with you. And that means if a kid is screaming through the night, the parents need to figure out a way to shut the kid up and let the rest of the family sleep. On the other hand if its a family where everyone is close, I can imagine we’d all be up worried about the kid and trying to help instead of getting mad. So much of this is about interpersonal relationships no? And pleases and thankyous have to be adhered to with family too. No getting away there.

      • I am not supporting the lady’s SIL but I do understand that sometimes parents turn on the TV to get their kids to eat. It becomes so much of a habit that they won’t eat unless a particular program/cartoon is turned on for them. I learnt from a friend’s child’s behaviour and never used the entertainment packages like TV, videos, phones for making the kid eat. Maybe because I was lazy and didn’t want to carry all this paraphernalia with me whenever I travelled with the child. My child will still give me a tough time for eating but i’m happy that I don’t have to worry whether there’s TV in someone’s house or if they have a particular cartoon package etc.
        So, its just a matter of what you succumb to, to get your child to eat or behave etc. Sometimes in nuclear families one ends up looking for easier means for bringing up the child and some of them turn back to bite at you!
        My husband’s family is the formal one(!) but I do agree that there are some basic courtesies that are to be followed. We only taught the boy to say “hello aunty/uncle” as a greeting and not good morning etc.:(. Now, we have to teach him to demarcate between greeting asian/Indian friends and other friends as they don’t like being called aunty/uncle and prefer a Mr/Mrs. name.

        • Oh yes, I know a lot of people use the TV to get a child to eat. I wouldn’t personally do it because I want the kids to have healthy eating habits. But that apart – its just a nuisance as we can see from this instance. How do you get the kids to eat in other people’s homes? What if they have the TV in their bedroom? Does one insist on carrying food in there?

  47. I too bel that manners are extremely important..I try to use them in daily conversation with my son and hope they will register.. he is only one and a half now..

  48. Hi MM,

    I’ve been reading your blog for a really long time, but never actually commented. I agree with everything you’ve mentioned in this post and also a lot of people who commented about elders being equally bad or worse. In my own experience, I have on several occasions left my seat on a crowded Calcutta bus for an older man/woman while men and women (younger or my own age) continued being glued to their seats while at the same time gaping at me for my seemingly ridiculous behaviour. I never have, never do and never will get their trip.
    However, there’s just one thing that I dont entirely agree with you on. You’ve mentioned how you try and make it a point for the Brat and Bean to wish elders/people they meet everytime. While I get your point and agree in essence that this is simply normal good manners, I feel sometimes this could lead to a problem.
    Children often cannot distinguish between appropriate and inappropriate interaction. In 90% of child abuse cases the abuser has been a person from the child’s own family or social circle. If a child is forced to greet somebody against his/her wishes, they could get confused about their parents’ attitude and if something untoward were to happen they wouldn’t know whether to report it. I speak from personal experience.
    I dont have kids but I know that my own bitter experience will make me a bordering- on- frantic mom when it comes to my kids’ social interactions. Dont get me wrong, insolence, rudeness and bad behaviour cannot go unpunished in my book. I am a firm NON-believer in the whole ‘spare the rod, spoil the child’ idea and think a few smacks on the bum-bum never did us any harm πŸ™‚
    However, if my future kids just smiled at people by way of a greeting and showed their respectfulness in ways that you and others have mentioned (eg, thank you, please, calling people mashi/ kaka…etc), I wouldnt mind their not being socially proactive. However, this is entirely MY personal opinion and therefore obviously shaped by my own experiences.
    Love your blog, btw.
    PS. sorry for taking up so much space.

    • Hey P,
      i’ve blogged about being a victim of child sexual abuse a few months ago when we did a full month of awareness – hope you caught that since you’ve also had a bad experience.
      And I agree – most abusers are known people. But this is where I begin to disagree. Abusers can be the father, the uncle, house help. So what our kids need to be taught is good and bad touch. A random stranger at a party is less of a threat, as research and statistics show.
      So I’m not sure what exactly it is that you’re objecting to, if you agree that a smile and thank you/please is important. I am not expecting them to hug, kiss or spend hours. And by age 8 -10 I am sure kids will be much clearer on what is inappropriate behaviour if you talk to them often and keep checking with them.
      Please don’t apologise for ‘taking up space’ – this is YOUR comment space and I eagerly await all interaction unless its nasty! On today’s post we already know who wasn’t taught manners by their parents!

      • Again, I see your point. Perhaps what I’m objecting to is like I said the insistence on ‘proactive socialising’ (did I just make up a term?!). So while I feel ‘thank you’s and ‘please’s are all part and parcel of being a civilized human being, I’m not so sure about the insistence on children taking that first step towards exchanging pleasantries.
        Just to illustrate the point that I was trying to make: I was a very outgoing kid who chatted nineteen to the dozen to pretty much everybody. Like you, my parents had a house rule that my sister and I had to come out and exchange pleasantries with guests regardless of what we were doing/mood swings etc.
        A cousin (nearly my mother’s age) had just come back to Cal and would often visit us. On the first day he’d remarked about how bright and friendly i was. Don’t want to go into details but one fine day he behaved what appeared at the time to be ‘strangely’ with me.
        I didn’t know what he’d done but instinctively it felt weird. Thereafter whenever he’d come over I’d refuse to come out of my room. My unsuspecting parents would scold me and that would just make me feel weirder about the whole situation.
        The reason I mentioned this is to talk about your point about ‘good touch and bad touch’. You can prepare a child all you want but if some sicko wants to act up, no amount of preparation will help.
        I’m not suggesting that we rear our children to become nervous wrecks when they grow up but I believe ‘proactive socialising’ (aaand the term’s back! :-)) should be left to the child’s comfort level.
        Wow, my comments really ARE long! sorry! Also, I don’t want to come across as argumentative but just have a lot to say on the issue.

        • Well see this is where nuance is required. I wouldn’t suggest they walk up to strangers. But we live in an apartment complex. I see the same kids everyday. I chat with their mothers. They play with my kids. Surely its not too much to expect them to wish me before I wish them? That’s the thing with older people no? You have to show some respect.

          Getting to the cousin thing – see that could happen even if your parents didn’t insist on manners. What is important and a different issue altogether, is awareness and keeping an eye out for such signs. If my kids go ‘off’ a person I immediately ask them what has upset them.

  49. So true. This brings to my mind an instance that my son experienced. He’s four and we’ve newly moved to another city and live in an apartment complex. One evening while I was playing with him in the apartment garden, another kid aged 5 wanted to play ball with my son. I encouraged him to go ahead. All was well till about 5 minutes. Bam! That child punched my son hard. Before even I could react, the child’s mom who was sitting with me said ‘Sorry, my son is hitting your son’ to me. That’s it she didn’t say anything to the son. I was like ‘Huh? Go teach your kid some manners’ (of course in my mind). My son still hides behind me when he sees that boy.
    What’s the point of saying sorry to me?? I still dont understand.
    Talking of adverts, there’s another one which makes me so angry everytime I see it. A toothpaste ad where the father gives three cars to the son, while the son (just watch the expression in the son’s eyes. ‘Pshaw! You are giving me cars? I dont care for your little cars. Look what I got for you) gifts him a big car. What are they trying to prove?
    1. The things that your parents give you are insignificant?
    2. You look better when arrogant?
    I dont know. Here is the link.

  50. MM, i believe parenting is a skill which sadly many are not good at. Some parents, over pamper, some neglect and some are not even bothered. A common phrase, “yeh toh aajkal ke bachche hain” seems to every parents mantra.

  51. Well I was an extremely shy kid and it was a nightmare talking or wishing people – I hated any sort of attention drawn to me and just wanted to hide behind my parents at all social dos.But shy or not my parents were very very strict as far as wishing elders was concerned. I HAD to say my Namaste and thank yous and good byes and offer seats to elders when they entered the room (no , I was not exempted from this even though I am a female). Honestly I think mom would skin me alive (to use your words MM!) for not answering when spoken to by someone. I think It’s my parents constant drilling abt manners that has made me grow into a well behaved young lady (even tho I say so myself !) so honestly shyness as an excuse for not exhibiting manners is so unacceptable. Such things need to be drilled into you as a kid and as you so rightly say MM, its not just thank yous and Please. It includes not pushing and shoving, not interrupting conversations, table manners, sharing etc.
    And since we are talking of manners another thing I have noticed is kids now are less inclined to share their things (books/toys) these days. Am I the only one who thinks like this ?

  52. Hi MM,

    I so get what you mean! Manners covers so many facets don’t they?
    This relates to an old incident. We’d gone to a friends place who’d put up a beautifully done Christmas tree. There was another couple there with their 2 yr old daughter.

    This little kiddo after getting comfortable with the place, started picking off the ornaments from the tree and playing with the red plastic balls hanging off it. While that is excusable since she is a kiddo, we had her mom encouraging her. Apparently the kid had learnt a new word that week “Throw” and she kept saying that at the kid and the kid kept hurling the red plastic balls from the tree all over the house.

    Here’s the killer. The mom was apparently so proud of the kid’s brashness that she exclaims with a laugh, “See now that you’ve learnt how much of a whirlwind little kriti is, you’ll think twice before inviting her and us over”

    The hostess was a polite soul who didn’t say a word and I didnt care to since it wasn’t my house or my kid. Somehow, I felt that there was something grossly wrong!

    What manner are you instilling in that 2 yr old mind? Aren’t you subtly implying to the kid that its ok to throw stuff at other peoples places? What’s with the proud arrogance over the fact that your kid is a tornado who can’t behave?? How can you consider that cool? Is it a new age fad where brash kids without manners are considered street smart and the polite meek ones are thought of as gullible with no spunk for life? I’ve seen a lot of parents who’re actually proud of this trait which is what is shocking!

    Don’t have kids but if I’d done that as a kid, my dad would’ve given me one glare and I’d be sitting in a corner of the house to afraid to even move! The next time, I’d know that it was out of bounds!

    • Wow. What do you do in such a case? I’d probably go – ouch, you don’t want to spoil Aunty’s Xmas tree, do you? But even then I guess such jungli people wouldn’t take the hint 😦

      • These days I see a lot of one upmanship talks in terms of how naughty my kids are. People think nothing of telling friends and colleagues over tea/coffe and laughing about how badly their kids behave. And then somebody has to narrate a nastier story.

  53. Dukhti ragg pe haath rakh diya – even though am no longer in that situation.

    Being of fauji ilk – good manners ( ESPECIALLY wishing family members and guests ) has always been the done thing. And of course – other values that today unfortunately seem lost amongst the crowds of parents like you have mentioned in your post.
    Jia went to one of the country’s most sought after schools – where as usual the let them be attitude did more harm than good. The moneyed kids with their SUV’s and thick heads would bully him in primary school. Bewildered by their nastiness and the fact that he did not seem to be of their standard – he must have gone though such hell – that I cannot even begin to put down what all he has been through despite my taking it up with the school authorities.
    Mind you this was in primary school ! And this was after he suffered a really nasty set of teachers in Upvan and Class I. And don’t even get me started on middle school where the teachers were casual and not interested in their work one teeny weeny bit or of the trauma they were inflicting on one child who was going through what none of them would ever be able to deal with in their own lives.
    I see it all the time in the neighbours who are badly behaved and muck up in front of my own house, of the woman who calls me a slut when she wont move her car while yakking on her cellphone,and i ask her to do so… of the people who jump queues at places of worship… at times like this i feel there is no hope !!

      • why do you think i pulled him out of there after class X ? he was so much more happier in his new school and he is over the moon at university… touch wood … guess all these things should stand us in good stead…

  54. I enjoyed reading the article by Samina Mishra and your post. Thanks for sharing.

    I have also experienced first-hand, parents not disciplining their children or not with any real conviction when they are aggressive with other kids. I am sure its not easy to be the parent of an aggressive kid, but shouldn’t you put in all the more effort if you are?

    I have had very unpleasant conversations with my 6 year old son where he has questioned me about why I keep yelling at him and his sister and correcting their manners and behaviour and telling them to (or rather demanding that they) share their toys when I tell them to forgive and forget when other children hit them, push them or refuse to share their toys with my kids. How can I explain to a young boy with his utopian view of a world where everything is fair and just that I can only discipline my own kids? He wants to know why being well-behaved isn’t a universal rule? I have even considered more than once whether I should be a little less insistent on the disciplining and take their side, but I just cant bring myself to do it….well I probably belong to the old school of parenting where good behaviour (more than good manners – as in being polite and saying thank you and please) is uncompromisable. The only thing I don’t curb is being outspoken. Saying what’s on their minds is allowed (I sometimes wonder when the right time is to teach discretion) but aggression against another kid, selfishness, rude behaviour is a strict no no.

    How do you explain to the Brat and Bean about why you continue to discipline them when other kids around them can behave however the hell they please? Or has this never come up? Do you allow your kids to say whatever’s on their mind, even in a social gathering, or only at home?

    p.s. sorry for the long post!

    • Totally – if your child has a problem you just need to work harder on it. Period.
      And yes, I have a huge problem explaining to my kids why they have to be good hosts as well as good guests irrespective of how other kids behave. I know it is unfair but I tell them that I cannot control the way others bring up their kids and I don’t want them to be as badly behaved. Simple.
      My kids do speak their mind in public gatherings with VERY embarrassing results. :-/ They’re my kids, what do you expect? :p But I take them to task depending on what they said. If they say something rude like – I don’t like this gift, I take them aside and tell them that yes, honesty is good, but they hurt the feelings of the uncle/aunty who spent money and time choosing it for them. So say thank you and leave it at that.
      On the other hand, the other day a little boy refused to share his cycle with the bean even though she asked him really sweetly – will you please give me a turn too? So I got her own cycle down and he immediately came and wanted it, began to grab the handles – she looked him in the eye and firmly said – you didn’t share yours with me and I won’t share mine. I didn’t bother to get involved because that was fair enough. in the same situation ten minutes later, the brat shared his toy with the little boy who wouldn’t share his and i said nothing there either – it was the brat’s choice.

  55. Dear MM,
    This is a lovely post and I’m so glad I stumbled upon your blog. I guess I’ve become a regular reader now!
    I’ve been a regular commenter for a while now, but I’d like to maintain some anonymity so I’ve switched to a psedonym henceforth.. πŸ™‚

    I’m extremely polite even with immediate family- I say a lot of ‘please’, ‘thank you’ even to my sister and parents and sometimes a lot of people find that weird. Recently started work at a big building and I have a habit of smiling at the security guy as I walk in, and saying a thank you to the parking attender when he gives me my token, and a thank you to the tea guy. Initially, all of them gave me a blank look, as if to say, ‘Huh? What are you smiling for?’ The parking attender turned around thinking I was smiling at someone else, and the tea guy asked me what I was saying thank you for. Its unfortunate when people think they aren’t entitled to basic manners. Its nice now, though.. after about a month of smiling at them every day, now the security guard gives me a beaming grin in the morning, and the parking attendant runs to give me my ticket as soon as I enter and says ‘Welcome madam’ to my thanks πŸ™‚ Chai-walla still thinks I’m weird though πŸ™‚ I was just thinking this morning that its nice to make someone else smile early in the morning – doesnt cost you anything, does it? πŸ™‚ And it has the additional benefit of making you feel good as well.. πŸ™‚

    That being said, I have a couple of cousins, aged around 20 years old with ghastly manners. They walk up to their room as soon as we visit their house with our parents. They’d see our car drive in from the door, and race upstairs immediately – with maybe a blank look on their face if we walk in before that. They’re just a couple of years younger than me, so apart from going up to them and saying ‘Hey, What’s up?’ myself, I feel there’s little I can do. I had recently messaged them both saying that I was terribly hurt that they said watching tv in the same room the entire time I was there, without even saying a hello. That one message blew up into a giant problem involving the entire family (they showed it to their mom who thought I was talking too much or whatever) made me wish I hadn’t said a word. They weren’t always like this, its just started since the last 5 years.. No idea why! Any tips on how I can handle that?

    *Big hugs to your kids* Its a pleasure to see well-mannered children πŸ™‚

    • Wow! that is just so wrong on so many levels. I have no words of wisdom on this one. I’d just stay away and let it cool off and not bother with them in future either. Clearly they have no manners and the parents are not going to correct them – so why lose sleep over it. You will naturally meet often if you are family, so take a book and pointedly ignore them too. Sometimes people need a taste of their own medicine.

      • I cried this out with my mom and she said the same thing…She gets really upset over it too. But it feels reassuring to hear the same thing from a neutral party.. Thanks πŸ™‚

  56. Hey, came upon your blog when I was doing some research on blogs. You have a great style of writing. So first, let me compliment you on that.
    As for manners, kids do as they see unless they have someone to correct them. While parents are to blame, so is the changing content of television. Not just that, kids own mobiles at the age of 6 and 7. They have everything so easy in life handed on a platter that they don’t realise the value of anything unless instilled in them.
    As for ads, it’s weird how writers write this stuff. It’s weirder how clients buy it and the weirdest thing is moms buy these products for kids. It’s all about pester power.
    Anyways, you keep writing. Your language and style is an inspiration to many including yours truly.

    • Very true. They won’t learn unless you lead by example. And the examples are small. Today the Brat came in and put his hands into a cake I was baking. So I said – Uh huh, not until you’ve washed your hands.
      I have washed them, he said. So I insisted on smelling them. I smelled the soap and let him touch the batter. And then I felt really bad for having not trusted him. So I promptly apologised and said I’m sorry I didn’t believe you when you said your hands were washed, baby.
      And immediately he responded by saying – I am sorry I dipped my fingers in the batter without asking you first mama….

      and oh.. thank you for the lovely compliments πŸ™‚

  57. Wow!! That was one long comment section. interesting. I am totally for teaching your kids manners and I do and I wouldn’t say the daughter is all tuned in. There are times she is rude and sometimes outright arrogant but then she gets a earful and punished for it. She is not a social butterfly but she is not a very shy kid either so she needs to be nudged to say the right things and sometimes she does not oblige.
    There was this one time when after church the kids were playing and I was waiting for her to settle down for her sunday school class so that I could leave with the younger one. Suddenly her friends who are also her school friends started ganging up against her for a off-shoulder dress she was wearing that day. I was sitting right there but they werent scared at all. She kept crying into my lap and I told the girls it was not a good thing to tease their friend but they went on like they never heard me. I asked the peapod to ignore them and got her going with a few other girls but she was always looking out for her friends and ultimately, in their own way they all came away as best buddies by the end of the class.
    My point here is as kids when we got into teasing each other or fights, we would never dare do that in front of our parents or our friend’s parents or other elders. Today there is absolutely no respect or that kind of reverence for elders. And I find it very diffcult to explain that to my child. The peapod probably gets teased quite a bit at school and when she tells me I tell her to be stern and tell them if they are not going to be good then she isn’t talking to them. There are times she tells me that is what she said but I do not know for sure and sometimes when I hear her talk at home I suspect she probably equals them in meanness(whatever she learnt from them) and only tells me what I need to hear and that is a scary situation. All I do is keep reiterating what is good behaviour and what is unacceptable and bad.

    • I am heart broken 😦 poor little peapod. I don’t know what to say for such young kids, Sun. They’re too young to protect themselves and I am so happy you were there for her. The only thing is to do what I do – go on supporting her firmly so that she knows how to do it when she is old enough. that is my hope for the Brat who will be bullied equally badly in school I am sure.

  58. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I don’t know when good manners among the educated upper classes in India (for lack of a better word) became optional…but they clearly did. Just last weekend we hosted two children (one 10, the other 6) with totally abominable manners. The younger (girl) could only communicate by whining and complaining and screaming. The older kid (boy) was slightly better but had to be prompted to say “hi” or “bye.” Add to that he burped loudly many times in the presence of his parents but no “excuse me,” or “I’m sorry.” I was mortified.
    Then of course there were meal times. She would eat nothing and he made faces throughout the meal, once while eating my made-from-scratch-quiche (yes, it was awesome good if I do say so myself) for breakfast he mimed throwing up. *Even* if the food was horrible somewhere we had to suck it up and pretend to enjoy it or await our parents’ wrath at home.

    The kicker? The girl only says hi if she can “see” you. That is, she pretends that people don’t exist and if you say hi she looks past you and talks to her mom. No, she is not autistic or anything. This is a game that her parents began. Even now they think it’s cute and soooo creative. So much so that the grandfather who lives in India and who only sees these kids for 2-3 weeks a year in invisible and isn’t that just hilarious? The poor old man has to practically tie himself up in knots to make his grand-daughter say hi to him.

    Good manners is nothing more than making the other person comfortable. This is why it needs to be a two-way street. If I am making you comfortable and you are taking it but not reciprocating I’m a pushover. I went all out as a hostess but two of my guests (even if they were 6 and 10) were total brats the relationship is not a success.

    Of course, it’s not the kids’ faults. Their parents have made them ill-equipped to be in the modern world. Yes, they’re great at math but their social skills leave so much to be desired that they will have a tougher time being successful. *These* silly things like manners–especially effortless manners that you don’t even need to think about (such as displayed by your kids)–matter in the larger world, in the corporate and public sectors.

    It is a disservice to not teach your kids basic manners. And you can do it without making them pushovers and with a sense of self. In fact, having good manners can help give a child a sense of self. And I agree, that is totally removed from the good and bad touch talk. That’s another thing altogether.

    I’ve been fuming this weekend because I’ve been so mad at these old friends who have not taught basic manners to their kids. But most kids we know have amazing manners and are still kids–they’re naughty, occasional smart-asses and wilfull–but are mostly well-mannered and happy.

    So, thank you for this post. It really resonated with me.

    • My other big grouse, is that our friends are so well mannered – how is it that they are unable to teach their kids to behave? I am always slightly disappointed in such situations. Very awkward.
      I am sorry you had such a shitty time with them. I love it when my kids build an independent relationship with my friends. One uncle takes them for bike rides. Another aunt reads to them. A third bakes with them. And there is something beautiful in watching that relationship evolve. It is such a loss when it works out like it did with your friends and their kids 😦

      • I love that too and have that with most of my friends’ kids. One girl who’s 10 (one of twins) and whose parents are two women uses me for hetro advice (I like this boy and I am seeing him after two years and I don’t if it’ll be the same or how do I know this boy likes me?:-). Another kid, who was 7 at the time, suddenly had an interest in religion (his parents like us are atheists)…and then asked his mom what I was. She told him I was a Muslim though I really didn’t follow anything. He thought for a while and said he thought he’d become a Muslim too since I was one which meant it was probably a pretty cool religion :-). What galled me about the weekend was that I love kids and love spending time with them and talking to them like the people they are. But these kids…I couldn’t get past the rampant bad behavior. It’s sad.

  59. Well this is something which has been worrying me for a long time. My sister in law’s kid is extremely naughty and keeps throwing stuff at everyone . It can be anything and he hits hard. It really worries me to see how everyone else laughs it off at their place. Though the child in question is only around three still I do think some manners can be instilled in him from now only. Maybe I’m the one over-reacting.

    • So why don’t you say something? Baby steps maybe? Like saying – okay lets be careful not to hit anyone, beta, they can get hurt. Come, if you want target practice lets aim at this door or the back of the sofa. I hope that works. And no, you are not over reacting.

  60. Just like the others I would like to say a huge ‘Thank You’ for writing this post. I think everything I wanted to say has been said by someone else :-). I’m now dealing with adults who clearly were not taught good manners as children – it gives me the shivers to think what their children are going to be like and how I will deal with it!

  61. Thank you so much for this post MM.

    I live in the US too and for most part of my life I was one of the shy ones. And my mom never pushed me to be courteous. I was thankful for that then, but now I realize I stil have a lot of that shyness in me and being courteous takes an effort.

    All the more reason I would teach my daughter(a feisty one year old) to be nice to people. ‘Coz I realize that if she makes an effort to be courteous today, being nice will come by naturally to her in the future.

    I really dont understand this thing about space and creativity and what it has to do with a kid being rude. Does your kid growing up to be a creative genius justify being a boor?

  62. You know, my 2 year old learnt to say “Thank you” and “please” when he was 18 months old :)), ofcourse, he would say it in his own way, which is “Thaah thoo” and “Peeej” :). After reading your post, I felt so good about my kids who are manners personified :).I guess, it only happens if parents are involved and teach their kids the right values.

  63. Of late what I have seen is that children want to say the “truth” – which usually is how a birthday cake totally sucked or how they don’t like something that I made when they came over. And when the parents admonish them they fight back saying that they were only being truthful!

    I am a firm believer of no opinions needed where none is asked, especially when it is not something good. And I am worried that Risha will fall into this habit of too much honesty and embarrass me. Any tips on how to handle this??

    On a side note – is it only me or are children becoming less grateful? I would be so excited over even getting a toffee when someone came over. And I shower my niece and nephew with gifts and though they say a thank you, I don’t see the sparkle. It is just another gift to be tossed aside.

    • Totally getting less grateful. They get soo many gifts all the time that there is no appreciation. This one btw, is the OA’s pet peeve. Every 3rd gift is put away in a big carton that goes to charity.
      I think kids need to be taught that there is nuance. It’s not an easy lesson so now I tell them they can come and tell me in my ear/pull me aside instead of saying it in front of everyone. Not because truth is bad but because some truths are unnecessary and hurt people. I think Im only going to be tortured a few years more and then they’ll have the nuance figured out.

    • That is a tough one for sure, esp. with small kids! I’ve had to explain to full-grown adults that commenting (negatively) on my appearance before a room full of people – in the name of being “truthful” – was not kosher. Because true and false are descriptions that only apply to facts, not opinions. An opinion just IS. There’s no such thing as a false opinion. That your opinion is yours is always going to be true. So only offer it when asked, and even then, if it’s going to do you harm (in terms of the relationship or your reputation), you can CHOOSE NOT TO offer it. Same as you would with ANYTHING else.

      They didn’t get it πŸ˜€

  64. I totally share your exasperation towards parents who stand and watch their kids bully other kids but I’m doubly exasperated by parents who make their kids say ‘sorry’ without meaning it, without any penalty. Like there is this kid we know who snatches toys from literally every other kid at parties. His parents make him say sorry when he snatches but never make him return the toy. Instead they try to console the meeker kid (whose toy was snatched by their kid) by sweet-talking or offering a new toy. This happens every time, so much so that the kid snatches a toy, says sorry and runs away with his loot and then comes back to target the next kid without worrying about the consequences. I somehow don’t get this at all. This is like hypocritical courtesy which I think is worse than not being courteous at all. 😦 Now I’m teaching my son (always the meeker one) to hold on to his toy with all his might and scream “Don’t snatch” if someone tries to snatch from him, all the time wondering if it is OK to teach young ones to be assertive (which is a hairline away from being uncourteous). Hmm?

    • I agree. Sorry is just a word for little kids and I don’t mind starting there by making them say sorry if they trip over your foot or something. But if they do something like snatch a toy, I agree, they MUST make amends, return the toy, shake hands with the other kid.. something.
      I’ve over the last couple of years begun to talk about it. My kids don’t hit or snatch but often they will say something that hurts another’s feelings – like the comment on truth below. Something like – but I don’t want to say thank you because I don’t like the gift or something. Then we go through this whole exercise of how would you like it if I didn’t like the flowers you bring me from the park everyday? would it hurt your feelings if i said i dont want them? and how are you going to show XYZ that you didn’t mean to hurt their feelings? they usually come up with their own ways of making it up – give Uncle my Hot Wheels car, or give aunty a flower and say sorry. So I leave them to work out that sorry is more than just the word.
      I have commented about this in this very same comment thread – I think its perfectly okay to be assertive with another, ruder kid. I am never rude to begin with, but you give me one troll and I am perfectly capable of slicing them into little bits. Similarly, I teach them that its nice to be nice, but don’t be a pushover or you’ll have the bullies of the world coming for you.

  65. OMG! I could identify with so many points in this post. I have a 2.9 year old boy who is active and sometimes aggressive too. We realized very soon that it would need some action on our part to help him tone down his aggression. So we make sure that we identify signs of him getting ready to strike verbally or physically. We have been modelling good behaviour and talking to him when something is not right. As a result he is doing much better now. But when I see some kids in the park go on a rampage hitting other kids, throwing sand at little ones, hurling abuses not worthy of kids or even adults for that matter and their parents doing nothing, they just glance at the kids and look the other way and exclaim “Kya karoon, yeh to meri sunta hi nahi hai” I fume inwards. I feel like telling them “You are the parent, you are in control, the kid will listen to you if you try to talk to them, if not now, not today, then some day they will.” Phew! This topic manages to get me worked up … and I wrote about aggression in kids some time back here –

  66. I have ranted so much about this issue with my friend…at a recent party that we attended, I saw kids behaving so badly. The bday table was set up with so much care and the kids didnt even hesitate a second before they stormed the whole place and there were 2 kids who even insisted on cutting the cake themselves. Kids will be kids…isnt it the duty of a parent to admonish them. I had to intervene many times and stop those kids from eating away that cake even before it was cut, but as an outsider I couldnt scold them and I had to call their moms(who were busy gosipping) to have a word with their kids. I know kids dont listen to parents all the time, but as a parent its our duty to tell them that such kind of behaviour is simply not accepted. I saw one kid snatching the gift voucher from the bday girl and the hostess was chasing him for the voucher. His mom was sitting aaram se, laughing and justifying her son by saying that he likes the sticker on the voucher.No apologies at all.I was too shocked to say anything.

  67. MM, I also would like to say that my son is not the perfect kid as well. He doesnt behave rudely and is usuall well-behaved with other kids. The main problem with him is that he is very stubborn and I find it very difficult to reason with him. If he insists on having/doing something then he has to have it(ex. holding on to a phone while sleeping). I am completely against it, but we do give in sometimes as he throws up when he cries a lot. One of my friends is also afraid to upset her son as he finds it difficult to breathe when he cries. Any suggestions on how to handle these kind of kids…

    • Oh hey… I’m no expert πŸ™‚ And I am flattered that you should ask me. All psychologists and research shows that kids know how to play their parents like a violin really early. And let me tell you, it’s no cakewalk being a parent to the very very stubborn Brat and the extremely wilful Bean.

      The one thing every expert suggests, is being just that little bit more persistent than your kid. It’s tough. Because they’ve had a day chilling out and having it good while you’ve spent the day in office, rushed through cooking a meal, dealt with family politics on the phone while arguing with an autowala and you just want some peace. But you just need to hold out a little longer. I do it with the Brat. It breaks my heart. Very often he is stubborn about something and I tell him the consequence is no screen time or no book at bedtime or even the more drastic, no going out for something fun on the weekend. I’ve realised that he stubbornly bears his punishment but he is careful not to do it again. This won’t come easy of course, but between age 3 and 6 I’ve seen him change and grow. He is still a stubborn child – what can one do about a character trait? But he’s learnt how to control it, when to use it and how to handle the consequences.

      If your child screams and yells and cries – let him. But first – ask yourself why you are saying no for something. If its sheer habit, you might want to rethink it. If its a good reason, then stay strong. Eventually he will stop crying and fall asleep. You might have a week of tormented nights, but at the end of the week you’d have taught him a lesson – that crying will not buy you leniency. As for your friend – she should get the child checked by a doctor and see what is wrong. A lot of kids tend to hold their breath in anger but they eventually let it go – the Bean used to do that. If its something more than that then its a serious medical problem.

      All the best.

      • Thanks MM. My sis also keeps telling me that I just need to stick to my word, how much ever he cries. As you said, it no easy job but I have seen that after 2-3 days he doesnt cry for that anymore. He somehow manages to find a different issue to raise hell..he he. Its high time that I practice this more…:)

  68. Mad Momma I absolutely love reading your blog and I wish I could relate to the Delhi pieces coz I am a die hard Bombay girl or should I say mom. That’s why I started which is all about kids in Bombay and what to do with them. Do visit it us, nothing compares to a moms feedback

  69. I think in India most parents think of any sort of learning, any sort of “disciplining” as a duty of the school, or as a chore they’d rather postpone till the kid “grows up and understands everything ultimately”..
    I’d watched on this show called “Maa Exchange” a father saying, “rules are in a prison, not at home”.
    “Teaching” a child anything is considered unnecessary and forced, and seen as pressurizing a child into the ways of adults. “Let them do what they want” seems to be the mantra. “They have only one childhood.”

  70. Your post has just struck so many chords with me. I do camps with young kids every year as a counselor and its astonishing how rude some of them are. Now we’re not much older than them, but surely telling someone even as little as a decade older than you to “shut up”, “get out” or “I don’t like you” is just not on.

    The worst probably was the pottery workshop. We had all the kids, about 40 of them make little clay pots to take home and left them out in the afternoon sun to bake and harden, whilst we took the kids indoors for some game. A little later, we went out only to see a kid of 10 had broken all the other children’s pots and all his mother said was, “What to do? He’s very naughty. You’ll need to keep your eye on him.” Leaving us to deal with the other upset children.

  71. And I’m glad to hear that the Brat and Bean are so well-mannered. My parents insisted on us being polite too. We said “Good evening” and “Good night”. If our parents were busy with something else when visitors dropped by, we had to offer them a glass of water and make conversation until they came by. Half the kids I see now at homes I visit are slumped on the sofa next to us, playing on their PSPs and Gameboys and ignoring us. :@

  72. i know i’m commenting late but the proud mommy in me has to brag :P. anna says ‘tan you’ when prompted. she also says it when the other person should be the one saying it. so now i sometimes manage to make her say ‘come’ (welcome) when someone says thank you. did i mention that she’s just short of 15 months old :). ok brag over.
    anyway it saddens me to see how people laugh when i say too many (in their opinion) thank you’s and pleases. or when i hold onto a scrap of paper for 2 hours till i find a dustbin. the worst comment is that ‘this is india not abroad’.

  73. Ofcourse i agree with your post but just a small observation.

    I find fewer people interested in children. And i dont mean random people on the road and building- I dont expect them to cootchie coo my child and exclaim how cute or how smart. I am talking about parents whose children play together in the park, live in the same complex, and maybe even travel to school together. The parents wish me a polite hello, how are you, but I never see them look towards another child other than their own.

    I love the way most of these children beam at me when they see me, I never expect a formal hello, good morning, but I melt at the warm grins, the squealing, “come aunty surabhi, come fast and see this/swing me/etcetc”. I enjoy my individual conversations with each of them. They acknowledge me in their own way. I see my child’s face light up when she sees some adults, in the lift, in the park, on the road, in the market -these are people who stop to ask how she is whenever they see her. The rest she wishes a polite hello.

    As adults, our manners are pretty dodgy, the poor kids will only follow suit.

  74. I am totally with you on this one Maddy. Recently in a mall a 2-3 year old kid spat his food onto my arm as I was passing by, unintentionally of course. I understood this that he was just a kid and he did it unintentionally but I was really annoyed when his mom just looked at me without even a sorry and only when I gave her a dirty look she says something like “Bacha hai…”, Hello woman you should telling the kid that it’s not a nice thing to spit out in public and to go over and say sorry to the angry aunty!

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