Being a parent is not always easy. Lots of things get in the way. Your child, how you’re feeling, work, money, health, stress and your own up bringing. I know my approach to being a parent to a 9 year old daughter is heavily influenced by the way I was brought up. The strongest memories of my childhood interactions with my Mum and Dad tend to relate to incidents where I have retained the lesson and often find myself applying it today with Ella.
Manners – they cost you nothing but are worth their weight in gold. These were high on Mum and Dads, (Dad’s in particular) hit list. “Remember your P’s & Q’s” when you went to someone’s birthday party, holding the door open for ladies (or anyone for that matter) and the less well known, walking on the outside of someone along a path to protect them from being splashed! These are all second nature habits that I now do as a result of it being drummed into me when I was younger. I remember Sonia wondering what the hell I was doing the first time I circled around her to walk on the other side when we crossed a road. Now she teases me if I don’t do it.
Ella now has my list of good manner behaviours to deliver against combined with some of Sonia’s (not calling out from one room to another for example).
However what do I do when mum breaches the protocols that she helped set. Last night was a classic. A friend of ours popped round and we chatted in the lounge whilst Mum sat at the dinning table having supper (deliberate gag for those that know). We were mid conversation when Mum piped up with “I’ve finished, can I have my pudding”. For those of you with good manners you will spot several issues with this.
- No “excuse me Tim” to politely interrupt the conversation
- No “Can I have my pudding PLEASE”.
- or better still “Tim, sorry to interrupt but when you have a chance, do you mind getting me something for my pudding please, don’t rush though I can see you are chatting”.
But here’s the real dilemma, what do you do with your 86 year old mum to get her to mind her manners. You can’t. You laugh a bit, you take it and know that your friends around you understand and don’t think any less of your Mum, you might tease her a bit to make her laugh and just hope that your Daughter distinguishes between, what we teach her and what her Nan does can often be at the polar opposite end of the good manner scale.
Being a good parent to a good parent is knowing what is needed and when and letting lots of things go and to focus on the good stuff and relish the time you have with them.