DEAR MISS MANNERS: Should manners and etiquette be taught in school, and why or why not?
I am asking because I read generational research into the younger generation, where it was mentioned that many in the younger generation are lacking in etiquette skills. I am noticing that every day there is an erosion in manners in society. I see it on the Internet, in public, at school, in customer service and many other places.
I believe that if this were taught as part of the general-ed curriculum in each and every school in America, we would see an improvement.
Do you agree or disagree with this, and why or why not?
GENTLE READER: You are not a school teacher, are you?
If you were, you would not be quite so blithe about giving these overworked people responsibility for yet another failing of society.
In fact, teachers are already saddled with teaching manners, simply because that is a prerequisite for learning anything else. Children who cannot sit quietly and listen and who do not have respect for authority cannot learn. And a great many are showing up in school without those simple skills.
Miss Manners normally sympathizes with parents, as well as with teachers. But this is a crucial part of child-rearing, and shirking it has serious repercussions for society. Furthermore, she has noticed that it is not, as is commonly believed, always the proverbial single teenaged parent with two jobs who neglects to administer this. It can equally well be two middle-aged corporate lawyers with a nanny who cannot bear to restrict their child's freedom or spoil their quality time with him by imposing rules.
The result is that teachers are trying to do parental work as well as their own. And often without the support, and perhaps even with the opposition, of the parents.
So yes, Miss Manners believes that in the present state of society, manners will have to be taught in school, although not the general refinements you would like. It will be hard enough to make and enforce rules for civilized behavior at school.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My stepdaughter's wedding reception is at her mother's house, and I don't know if I'm just feeling weird about attending her reception at my husband's ex-wife's home.
I thought it truly distasteful for her to plan that, knowing my husband and his ex's past has not been good. I know he will go and be polite and nice, but I will have to sit there and bite my lip because all the while his ex will be telling people how they paid for everything and he did nothing. We have not been asked to help in any way but provide items for decorations.
I tried to suggest a reception for her mother's family and her fiance's family and a smaller one with us and her father's family closer to home (which all families are very large in number). Am I freaking out for no reason?
GENTLE READER: You have a reason, just not one that is a valid basis for complaint.
Your stepdaughter must think of it merely as her mother's house, a natural place to have one's wedding reception (and a lot more so than a rented castle, or whatever others are doing now). It seems to Miss Manners that if your husband can manage to be polite, surely you should be able to do so. A bitten lip is preferable to a bitter family.