Etiquette has been defined as ‘an art form of being civil, differing across cultures and times, benefiting everyone involved, which, when practiced, keeps us from deviating to ignorantly rude mortals and brings our consciousness closer to a realm beyond this physical world.’ Sounds like something we all should strive to have, but do we really see etiquette practiced today? I am so glad you asked!
The History of Etiquette
The concept of etiquette can be traced back to the nobles in early modern France. Etiquette did not develop spontaneously like manners did, but were originally consciously developed as a set of written rules for social interaction in polite company. Fast forward a few hundred years, the Founding Fathers of the United States attached great importance to morality and etiquette, which was and is in sharp contrast to the cultures of anti-humanity ideologies seen in socialist and communist agendas. Basically, we, as a country, have our foundations in etiquette and strong moral beliefs.
Where Has Everyday Etiquette Gone?
My friends and I love to people-watch, but who doesn’t, right? Have you noticed over the years that fewer people hold the door for others? No matter the age or sex of a person, holding the door for them is proper etiquette and doesn’t seem like a big deal to do, but for many, they just don’t have the time. Growing up, I recall holding the door was the norm, so what changed?
Besides holding doors for people, have you seen the number of people, especially families, when out to eat, who have their faces buried in their phones? A family of four, including mom, dad, and two children of the age where conversation can take place, rarely even look each other in the eye. The kids are on social media or playing a game, mom and dad are checking their emails, the food arrives, they eat in silence and go home after having some ‘family time out to dinner.’ Then when the kids act out from what the parents think are ‘the norm,’ they’re shocked because they always spent time as a family. Being in the same room, breathing the same air, doesn’t classify as ‘being together.’ Put the phones down, turn them off if you have to, force a conversation or stick to the basics of ‘How was your day?’ ‘How is school going?’… Just make an effort. Hand held technology shouldn’t become a babysitter or a parent; get to know your family members.
When and How to Start Etiquette with Your Kids
It’s never too early to begin modeling and explaining good etiquette and behavior. I love it when I see a child, barely able to string words together, encouraged to say ‘thank you’ to someone, or ‘please.’ Repeated behavior will eventually become a habit or a behavioral pattern. When a little boy knows to hold a door for a woman, to me, that’s good parenting. I have often heard it said, ‘the number one and most important influence on a child’s behavior is the same sex parent,’ so if dad opens the car door for mom and their son sees this behavior and understands why dad does it, there’s a pretty good chance the son will open the door for not only his mom, but eventually his wife.
A Civilized Society is One That Practices Etiquette
Learning as a child or as an adult, that every action, no matter how trivial, that portrays kindness, grace, poise, and selflessness connects us to an understanding of the uniqueness of each other is important. Our world would be a better place if we practiced traditional etiquette values in our behavior and making each moment count.