DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have been to several places with little kids who are making rude remarks to many adults, including myself, such as “You cannot stay at the table,” “I don’t like you,” “I’m going to shoot you,” “Why do you put your hands on your hips?” and many other inappropriate things, as well as inappropriately touching adults.
Whenever I tell the parents, they say things like, “Don’t take her literally, she’s only 2 years old,” even though people say that one should take all threats seriously. Also, when I was a child, I was always taught things like, “You never insult an adult,” “You never touch an adult,” and “You never correct an adult.”
Is there a reason why parents do not teach their little kids manners these days, and why they can get away with everything?
GENTLE READER: It is Miss Manners’ impression that the people who say “One should take all threats seriously” intend to instill extra, not unreasonable, caution. In these days of both routine gun violence and routine hyperbole, one must constantly distinguish between the two.
Setting aside the possibility of imminent harm from a 2-year-old, Miss Manners agrees with you that parents should teach children good manners -- if not because it is the right thing to do, then because parents are learning that they often are held accountable for the misbehavior of children.