DISCUSSION: Are Manners Dead?

Earlier this week The Mercury reported that bus etiquette was suffering in Tasmania and commuters were refusing to give up their seats for the pregnant and elderly. When a driver asked someone to give up their seat for a pregnant woman, the response was, “she chose to be pregnant”. Apparently this isn’t an isolated incident and people are generally behaving less well mannered in our society.

Then there is the subject of mobile phones, which many store owners complain about. People talk too loud, or they are distracted when they should be concentrating on those around them.

mobile phone


This week we are talking about manners, and honestly I found everyone to be really helpful throughout my two pregnancies – opening doors for me and allowing me to jump the toilet queue! I haven’t caught public transport for a long time so I cannot comment on that point.

Generally I find people to be friendly but maybe I just have one of those helpless faces and people feel sorry for me. I don’t know, I don’t live in one of the major capital cities so that might make a difference too.

Would you be offended if someone opened the door for you? I love it when it happens, I normally have my hands full but even if I’m flying solo without my children I think it’s a nice gesture. When it comes to manners, I am old fashioned – now where can I find someone to put their coat across a puddle for me?

I do think that mobile phones take away from face to face communications, if you meet up with someone for a coffee and they spend the whole time on their phone it shows that your company isn’t a priority. What do you think of mobile phones in our society? Problematic or should haters just “get over it”? Do you think SMS is impolite?

I will tell you one thing that I think is extremely rude – commenting on other people’s children. Being a parent is hard enough without strangers scrutinizing your offspring’s behaviour. If your child is misbehaving in public it is stressful enough without judgemental stares or comments…if you see a parent struggling, ignore it or offer a reassuring smile. Even the most well behaved child has their moments! Oh, and don’t ask to hold my baby if I don’t know you, . Do you agree? Have you ever made a negative comment to a parent?

Before this turns into a rant, I will move on and give you a say! My questions for you this week are – do you think manners are dying in this country? Would you give up your seat for a pregnant or elderly person? What have been your experiences both negative and positive? Do you think we need more “pleases” and “thank yous”?

What are we going to give away this week? It’s from Gifterati – a 30 pack of Ferrero Rocher’s. Want to win it? Participate by commenting below. The winner will  be contacted by email so make sure your address is current. Competition closes 20th December 2011 Midnight AEST. Australian residents only. Check back next Wednesday for a new weekly discussion. You don’t have to have Facebook to win, but if you do it’s much more fun!

24 thoughts on “DISCUSSION: Are Manners Dead?

  1. I am trying really hard to install good manners in all 4 of my kids, the thankyou’s, please and excuse me are all really important, there is nothing better than seeing the look of surprise and pleasure on a strangers face when your 2yr old says sorry for getting in their way at the shops!

  2. I recently travelled by train to the city with my 4 year old and 2 year old. As I boarded the train with the kids in a double stroller, 2 men occupying the ‘special needs’ seats immediately vacated them for us. In this day and age when it is best not assume someone is pregnant unless you see the baby crowning I think pregnant women need to be more assertive and ask if anyone would giving up their seat for them.

  3. Oh gosh…Im scared to start for fear i will not stop. This is a subject close to my heart for sure.
    Firstly..I agree..DO NOT under any circumstances feel that it is your place to comment on others childrens behaviour. You have no idea why a child might be acting the way they are and its none of your business. Why do I think this way???
    When my 2nd child was 2 and a half years old she was seriously the most perfect child. It was crazy how blissful this kid was. The cutest little thing with a mass of delightful ringlets and she always had a smile on her face. She honestly was never naughty…she was an angel. Long story short she ended up in hospital after an extreem reaction to a vaccine…she was very sick. She would scream in panic wanting her Mum but then when i would cuddle her she would push me away and say she didnt want me she wanted her Mum. She had moments where she didnt recognise me. She forgot all her nursery rhymes, could no longer sing the abcs, etc. she turned into another child. She would throw amazing tantrums. The Doctors told me that slowly over time the tantrums would calm but that she had suffered slight brain damage and we wernt sure what was going to happen with that (long story which i wont go into). So after many weeks in hospital she was released. A few days later we were at the supermarket…all had gone well thankfully as i was so stressed and after spending so much time at the hospital i badly needed to stock up the cupboards even though the last place i wanted to be was the supermarket. Miss 5 was helping and Miss 2 was sitting in the trolley. We were standing in the chekout line with crowds everywhere when all of a sudden Miss 2 started screaming. I got her out of the trolley and took a deep breath trying to calm myself. All the while people were staring and i kept saying over and over in my head “stay calm…its not her fault” ….I got down on my knees next to her and held her close as she screamed and thrashed about and I said to her “Its ok darling…just calm down and tell Mummy what you want”….This couple walked past and the man in a loud voice said “Ha its not what she wants..its what she needs…a good spanking”….
    I was so stressed after my nightmare month at the hospital and all my worry over her…I just burst into tears…I wanted to run after the man and tell him why my daughter was behaving this way and that it wasnt simply bad behaviour even though thats what it might look like….but i just didnt have the strength…so instead i cried and Miss 5 now had her sister screaming and crying and her Mum crying and she patted me and said “Dont cry Mummy, it will be ok”….
    I dont know who that man was and I very much doubt that he ever thinks of me or that he would even remember the incident but i sure remember him and i will to the day i die. I think of him with hurt in my heart. That day taught me something wonderful though…Do Not comment…you do not know someone elses story.

    Manners come in all differant forms.
    Manners show that you have a good heart and that you have respect for yourself, the world and the other people in it.
    Teach your children manners by example.
    Think about how you would like people to think of you…Those that know you and those that have no idea who you are.
    Be kind, be polite and smile at people. Give a little bit of your goodness to others for every bit you give away you will find that double grows in it place and you will always have more to give.

  4. I was brought up with good manners instilled in me and unfortunately I think it is mostly a dying thing these days. I will say two different things about this topic. Firstly I was on the train last week and an elderly couple hopped on at a station and there were no seats, so I offered them my seat, they were extremely grateful. Secondly, when I went to leave my unit block the other day, there was a lovely young school aged boy that ran to grab the door for me. These are two very obvious examples of good manners and I thought that I should point them out first.
    I do however notice a heap of rudeness, like someone bumping into me and then looking at me like I should apologise, but the very worst case of manners that I notice are young people driving. Mostly they think that it is their god given right to have right of way in any situation. An example of this is where there were two lanes that merged and I was in the lane that other cars had to merge in to. I let the first car in but was already in front of the next driver, she proceeded to come over in to my lane causing me to break suddenly (scare the crap out of the person behind me) and then she proceeds to stick her finger up at me???????????????? I just dont get how some of them actually get their license in the first place. This has not been an isolated incidence either, I wont keep ranting and raving about it, but I really do think that manners are not peoples strong point any more.

  5. I think manners are dying, as a mother of two who catches the bus with a pram, I am constantly having to politely ask people to move so that we all might fit with my pram, also having to ask other mothers to move a little so we may fit! But just because others are like that does not give me an excuse to! I always make sure I move for people who are in more then us for a seat, and use our please and thank you etc! Try and help others when we can! I try and explain to my kids yhat just because others are being rude doesn’t mean they have too!

  6. Only recently I have started catching the bus and I was appalled with the behavior and manners of some people. School kids rushing to get on the bus first & occupying a seat when adults are standing. People actually sitting on the end seat in the aisle so no one else could sit next to them. Language that would bring tears to your eyes. The way it is going perhaps they should have bus marshals like they do in the air. It would certainly make the trip a lot more pleasant.

  7. I totally agree with meedee!
    Manners, good or bad, shows what or who a person cares about and what level of respect they have.
    I make a point of exposing bad manners when I am subjected to it!! Especially when my son’s with me and now he points it out too. Sarcasm is great for making a point and making people wonder if I’m serious or not…..
    As I’ve taught my son, good manners will take you everywhere and bad manners will get you nowhere twice.
    I’ve seen displays of both in different situations, sitting on the fence with this one.
    Assertiveness helps a long way to improving attitudes and introducing broader thinking – too many people are passive and just complain later, what’s the point in that?

  8. I think manners are very subjective. I will say though that they definitely don’t seem to be second nature anymore.

    I agree that you should never comment on someone else’s child – definitely not a strangers. Guaranteed that parent is stressing enough if their child is misbehaving in public.

    I am all for trying to help a lady struggling with not enough hands but you don’t offer to hold the baby. offer to carry a bag maybe, or something but never the baby.
    And on that actually – never assume that a pregnant belly is fair game, especially if the lady is a stranger.

  9. A small thing that upsets me is that people don’t even acknowledge you when you walk past.
    I was raised to say hi and smile.

  10. Actually this one pregnant lady that I would ride the train with every day would go right up to the people sitting down and clutch her belly and just look at them untill she gave up her seat…. there is defiantly a better way of doing it I think

  11. As a kid, all we were allowed to say was “please” and “thank you”. That was the entire vocabulary. No discussion entered into, no opinions to be aired. As a kid, my parents forced me to stand for strangers on public transport. As an adult, I still help everyone I can, not out of fear, but because I’m community-minded and compassionate. I thank people who have helped me in return, generally appreciative of every gesture. Personally, I care less about the actual words, the social manners, than the spirit and deeds behind them. I think it is community spirit and empathy that are dying, being replaced by self-importance. That is what we should really be afraid of.

  12. I have always tried to lead by example with my kids. Please and thankyou and general good manners costs nothing but means alot.I travel overseas alot and find many of the people in Thailand and Bali to be extremely polite and always show a smile. Maybe we are too materialistic and some of us have forgotten about the small basic things in life – like each other!

  13. I always use my please and thank yous, and encourage my 5 children to do the same. Especially for the elderly and less fortunate. A smile and a simple please or thank you can go a long way!!

  14. I don’t drive so I take public transport everywhere, which isn’t so bad really since I live in a major capital city.

    There was an occassion when I was 8.5 months pregnant, I went into a crowded bus, not expecting anyone to give up their seat as I was only travelling 2 bus stops away. I noticed that there were some healthy men sitting on the seats reserved for the elderly & people with special needs. They didn’t budge even when they saw my super huge tummy, pretending they didn’t see me. The rest of the people clutched to their seats as if I was going to take their seats away. Then to my surprise an Indian lady got up from her seat and asked me to move there. I politely told her I don’t need the seat as I was almost reaching my destination. What amazed me most was, the rest of “Australian” passengers didn’t bother to offer me a seat, but someone who was clearly a foreigner, perhaps a tourist, willing to give up her seat for me! I was so embarrassed with how un-Australian the rest of the passengers were and how polite the foreigner was.

    Nowadays I still don’t drive & takes my baby in the pram on public transport. Thankfully most of the time there are always people who helped me getting in/out of the bus and/or trains. Of course there are some rude ones who stand/sit on the disabled/special needs areas and look at me woefully as if anyone with a pram is a pariah. However I’ve learnt not to let them disturb me. I normally just smiled politely and said loudly & clearly “can you please move so I can move my pram in/out. Thanks.”

    Sometimes the best way to deal with people without manners is by showing them good manners, leading by example. Hopefully by doing it you can change them a little bit at a time.

  15. I think it depends on the person & the situation. People complain about people not giving up bus seats, but I have seen the opposite tip of the scale…. Once there were a lot of available seats and one young boy sat down, only for an old woman to go and stand next to him, stare, then start screaming at him for not giving his seat up to the elderley (presumably because she wanted 2 seats to her self – and no she was not plump – and didn’t wish to sit next to someone else). In that case it was her manners which were appalling!

    Also it depends on familiarity… sometimes if people are unknown they are more likely to be rude, and other times with people we know they are more likely to be rude to show their ‘power’ e.g. in the workplace or if they were in the wrong about something. What do you think? Does anyone agree or has anyone seem similar things?

  16. Manners have definetly left the building mostly in the young,but to defend them they are not taught to respect anyone and certainly not taught any manners.It is not just the young though I am quite surprised at how many elderly people think they have the god given right to be rude to anyone just because they are “old”!Mobile phones are so annoying even in my own familyNEW RULE in my house no texting,phoning,changing ring tones unless urgent while visiting me.I always try and do one good deed a day even if its just to say “Have a good day”the results are surprising.

  17. One of seven children of an old school mum we had to be good mannered ;I kept the same values when raising my two children.
    My grandchildren? Have decent manners but forget easily when with friends who do not… popular shows on T.V promote Children with pushy bad mannered attitudes and disregard for others feelings in the name of Entertainment so what can we expect?
    Sad but the way of the world; Jump up and down to start change I say!!!!!
    Mgt

  18. Both my kids have good manners and i think it all starts at home if you say Please and Thank you they will learn to say it too,my kids would get commended on their manners at school ,i amproud i have taught them well

  19. When I was young we seemed to show better manners especially when an old person eg. wanted a seat on a bus or you waited for them to get on or off the bus first, this nowadays is not too often shown by the younger generation. It is not hard to say please or thank you and you will be rewarded for it in the end in some sort of fashion or by something that will take place that will be good for you.

  20. I love the fact that manner are a sign of respect for people. My husband always opens doors for me and even at home he always pulls out my chair and won’t sit till I am settled. He believe that it is a simple way of showing appreciation for the person that has cooked. We have instilled these values in the grandkids and it has even rubbed off on their friends. This is nice to see in 19 year olds as we say if you show respect you get this back in return. I find it sad when children are not taught to say please and thank you as once you let these morals fall they will be lost for good. I also believe a smile at people that catch your eye costs nothing and I’m often rewarded by a smile in return. This costs nothing but it gives you a good feeling and might just give someone that bit of a lift to help them through a bad day. As I said it all comes down to respect not only for others but for yourself as well.

  21. Good manners should come naturally. It is so important that children are taught to use their manners and treat everyone with the same level of respect.

    Meedee, you are the epitome of manners because if I’d been through what you had I’m sure I would have opened up a whole world of hurt on that guy! : )

  22. Manners are never dead, just not encouraged to be used so much by their parents these days. It should never stop, but I don’t think it is not any longer in the vocabularyly which seems a shame really because I miss the times when people give up their seats for the elderly or injured.

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