RE: the original posting about outsourcing manners, I have to say, as a parent of two, a THIRD PARTY enforcer of good behavior is often far more effective than a parents'. Aunts and uncles are perfect, but if you don't have any around, this can become a challenge. Those little hellions KNOW you can't forsake them (being your offspring and all) and so they save all their worst behavior for home.
But seriously, we work very hard on the manners with our kids. We eat dinner every night together at the table with real utensils and napkins. Which seems a rare occurrence these days. They really are very polite and well behaved (in public at least) but the boy (the elder) is a real sloppy eater, whereas the younger (the girl) is super neat. Maybe its a boy/girl, gross motor/fine motor issue, but you would think the older one, with 5 years of undivided attention/harassment/pestering from his parents would be the more exemplary. But no, such is not the case. Its improved, but I am always appalled when he comes home from school or wherever with some smear of something or other on his face. How long have you looked like that?! - you're 12 for Christ's sake! But he's also a boy. I am always heartened when I see other boys of the same age looking more slovenly than him. He's not the neatest, but he's not the nastiest either.
The purpose of life is a life of purpose
My big struggle lately is trying to teach my daughter (8) and bf's son (11) that even using your manners can be done in a disrespectful way - there is a way to say "no thank you" in a smart-assy way. So it's not just what you say, but how you said it, how you act, and being gracious. Also, trying to teach them to appreciate what they have and the opportunities they are given. It's hard when the ex-h bought our daughter a freaken ipad for Christmas, but the best thing ever was her saying to me that the best present from Santa was giving her Christmas morning to touch and play with her Elf on the Shelf (Side note, for those that don't know what this is, consider yourself lucky). Of course that was the best gift ever until the ipad
Our kids can be a handful but are pretty good kids, so I'm not complaining. Sometimes I wonder if I expect too much. It's hard to know where that line is.
In your familiar circle, sure, guide as you will; those are the kids of people who know you and trust you.
Same trip I took my water bottle to the drinking fountain, and saw a cart of three kids parked by the restroom hallway (bad design). Oldest was wearing a cat-face head scarf (the ends were the paw pads). Her shoelaces were untied, and I advised her of this with a comment about how kitties always land on their feet when they fall but we didn't want to try this out.
Appreciate the concern; I engage with people I haven't yet met any time I'm out. My mother used to tell me about the time my 2yo self was out of her visual range in a store, and a woman tried to lead me away; very cognizant of that issue.
It's sad that things have come to this.
This thread made me start thinking of we are teaching etiquette lessons to our children. As some of you know, I am taking a very old school approach. As in it is "yes sir, no sir, yes ma'me, no ma'me, and proper titles of Mr. Mrs. Miss, or Ms if the person they are addressing is older than 18. We also pray before every meal even when we eat out and when he wants to get down from the table, he is required to ask if he can be excused, in which case he takes his plate to the sink. It is never, I want to do this or that, it is "may I" do this or that, and if he needs help, it is "would you please help me with....". Please and thank you are a must.
He also understands that disrespect will result in a time out or a spanking and that when he does not use is manners or proper etiquette will will not respond what so ever. He could be flipping out throwing a fit in the middle of the kitchen floor saying "I WANT LUNCH" and we will leave the room. After he calms down we will explain that if we wants to communicate with us, he needs to us his manners otherwise we will not respond.
He just turned for but thus far, I think we are making good progress. In the end, I will not tolerate him acting like many of these kids that I see in public today, and public manners start with manners at home.
There is no such thing as failure, only learning experiences. However, it is our choice to learn the lesson and change or not.