When I was a child growing up in the 60s, we were raised to be respectful.
We were constantly prodded to say “please” and “thank you.” And “I’m sorry.” Especially if we picked on younger siblings.
We did not call the parents of our friends by their first names. The few exceptions we made were people who had become almost like family.
We had to be home by dinner time. Dinner was with the family. If we had friends over, they ate with our family.
Libraries were almost sacred places. Reading was serious business and we could not talk or run. We had to take special care not to lose our library card. It was essential to return our books on time because other people might be waiting for them.
Even movie theaters deserved our best behavior. We were in a public place and had to be considerate of others.
We never, ever talked back to teachers. Clergy people – of any religion – were treated with the utmost courtesy.
We did not disrupt the classroom. Any problems we had – with either the teacher or a classmate – had to be dealt with after school. If we did have an argument with a friend or classmate, we had to shake hands to show no hard feelings.
If we ever got into trouble on the street, we were told to find the nearest policeman. Soldiers were people who deserved our gratitude for their sacrifice. (And this was during the heyday of the Vietnam War when antiwar sentiment was rampant, and returning soldiers were often disparaged).
Nowadays, it seems things are different. A “culture of disrespect” has started to erode our values. Awful behavior seems to be the norm all too many times. It seems all too often that kids and grandkids have no shame.
Dr. Leonard Sax recently wrote about this downturn in an article for the Wall Street Journal. He offers some solid tips for parents – and grandparents – on how to get our kids back on track. On how to keep them from being awful.