The death of manners

Why don’t parents teach manners?

They can’t, if you believe the New York Times.

In its article — Eat, Drink, Be Nice — the Times curmudgeonly belittles the current generation of parents for not teaching their kids to behave:


These etiquette experts say that new approaches are needed because parents no longer have the stomach, time or know-how to play bad cop and teach manners. Dinnertime has become a free-for-all in many households, with packed family schedules, the television on in the background and a modern-day belief of many parents that they should simply let children be children.

The article profiles a San Francisco restaurant where the owner hosts family nights, in which the kids are expected to behave or get their mouths taped.

The comments section is a treasure for people who like to talk about other parents.


When I was growing up going out to eat was a privilege. Had I talked back to any adult my parents would have pulled me out of the restaurant immediately. But I never would have done that, because I knew how to act. Yes, my parents TAUGHT me that. I am disgusted to go into any decent restaurant and find kids running around and screaming while the parents are staring into their cellphones. What are you teaching your kids when you let them do what they want with no consequences? It teaches them THEY are all important, and no one else matters.

Sit at the table at home, turn off the TV, leave the cellphones off and in the other room, and have a conversation instead.

  • inuit

    What do you expect?

    We live in Liberal Nation.

    Liberal Nation gets you children with no morals, standards, or manners.

    Liberal Nation gets you irresponsible parents who are clueless as to how to raise children to be decent adults.

    Liberal Nation gets you dead children in schools.

    As you sow, so shall you reap.

  • John P.

    Oh, inuit.

    There is very little liberal about our nation. Take off your Fox News goggles and have a look at the rest of the world. We are quite conservative.

  • Nathan

    Thanks for the laugh inuit…a good dose of partisan outrage and paranoia over the lunchbreak.

  • Kirk W

    Simply put, some parents teach manners, others don’t.

    I plan on teaching my boys manners, but I won’t be poking them with a fork if they put their elbows on the table. I’ll also teach them how to dress appropriately for a situation–and thank goodness that won’t include wearing a suit and top hat (did I just hear my Grandfather rollover in his grave?)…

    I think this article falls into the “it was better in my day” category…

    Oh, and inuit. Please try to address the blog post and just stop blaming people whose idealogies you disagree with. Also, as John P. points out, this isn’t a very liberal nation–for example, 30 Governors of 50 are Republicans, and 5 of the 9 Supreme Court Justices were nominated by Republican Presidents…

  • Bob Collins

    // Please try to address the blog post

    Good advice. Let’s not troll, people.

  • MikeB

    The first comment was so ‘meta’ – about the dearth of manners……

  • John O.

    Manners know no party or ideological boundaries. Those kids running through a four-star restaurant are probably the same munchkins who kick the back of your airline seat off and on across two time zones.

  • Aaron

    I think this is cyclical issue. Parents don’t teach manners because no one taught them. Then you have the parents who always said “they don’t want to be like thier mom or dad”, so they are going to let their kids do x,y or z. When parents do try to teach manners – tact goes along way. Put down the electronic device and create a relationship with your kids so you can reason with them.

    @inuit, political affiliation has nothing to do with kindness and consideration for others.

  • Ali Lozoff

    My admittedly awesome manners were taught by my grandmother, who I looked up to and tried to please in a way I didn’t with my parents. Not for any reason other than they were my parents, and we all tune out our parents at some point. All of my social graces were instilled in me by my Grammie Ev; I think it’s a role a lot of grandparents or Aunties and Uncles can play, when kids are trying to be on their best behavior and aren’t rolling their eyes at everything Mom and Dad tell you.

  • B Joe

    I think that there are 5 or 6 “Can you believe the manners on kids these days” stories that occasionally get updated with contemporary vernacular and rotated in and out of circulation. They were all written in 12 B.C. by some irritable old blacksmith who couldn’t stand all the shepherds whose parents never taught them that it was rude to bring your walking stick to the dinner table.

    Teaching children about manners is an ongoing process, and children generally move through progressive stages of decorum along the way. Plus, sometimes, as a parent, you just don’t care whether your kids are living up the the arbitrary expectations of some complete stranger. So it shouldn’t be shocking to anyone to be occasionally exposed to poorly behaved children in public.

  • Lyndsey

    Every time I eat with a group I am reminded about how few people actually have manners. Inevitably, someone cannot hold a comment until their mouth is clear of food.