Yes, I’m removing Dos and Oops of Etiquette, my program for children, from my website. Why? Parents.
I don’t have a magic wand. The wand I use in these classes isn’t real. No magic.
I tell parents this when they approach me about classes for their children. The magic is in the follow-up. The magic is in their hands. I can give instruction and practice but unless the parents are willing to follow through on these lessons daily they won’t see the changes they desire.
I’ve lost count of the calls and emails I’ve received from frustrated parents wanting me to fix their children. I’ve instructed children who had been told they were going to pottery lessons. I’ve instructed children who have been dragged out of bed and informed of their destination en route. I’ve instructed children who were being punished by attending a class. In all these situations the children were great. We all had a good time. But I was left asking myself who really needed the manners instruction.
Children learn by example and those examples begin at home. Speaking and behaving respectfully, showing genuine concern for others, ensuring dinner is family time….The magic is modeling the behaviour one wishes to see.
A friend who works part-time in retail recently had the children’s section experience. She was appalled that some parents allowed their children to use the area as a playground. Her estimate was 20% of parents were oblivious to supervising appropriate conduct for their children.
Parenting is the hardest job in the world. I’m delighted when parents want some polish for their children. I realize that the majority of parents are not like the ones I’ve described. I’m just not willing to deal with those parents who want a magic fix.
May I share one more example with you? A parent, upon requesting classes for her two children, said to me, “They even take things off each others’ plates at dinner. Believe me, they didn’t learn this at home.” They didn’t learn this at home? My magic wand won’t work without parental support.
In conversations with my etiquette consultant colleagues around the world I have found I am not the only one experiencing this frustration. I am not the only etiquette consultant who has said good-bye to children’s etiquette.
The saddest of all – it’s not the fault of the children.