The lost art of manners and why we need to bring them back 269



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It’s been years since we’ve seen social standards such as gentlemen walking on the roadside when with a lady. It’s been years since we’ve seen social standards where a gentleman opens the door for a woman. It’s been years since smacks were given for children who don’t say please and thank you. It’s been years since people waited for everyone to sit before eating. It’s been years since the soupspoon was directed away from the closest bowl edge before eating.

So what on Earth happened?

When we grew up, most of these so-called social graces were around. We were taught them and if we didn’t learn we’d get smacked, caned or punished in one way or another. Our parents made sure we knew how to act socially appropriate and having well-mannered children was considered a very complimentary thing. The question I have is where along the lines from our bringing up to the children of today did things go wrong?

Perhaps it was us? We chose to make so many social customs redundant citing them as out-dated and unnecessary. Dressing for dinner became a thing of the past as we thought it was “over the top” and social etiquette became less important and instead intelligence became paramount.

A friend had a son who was very slightly autistic. He was very intelligent and while they encouraged their other children to use manners, their son was always exempt. Instead they allowed him to make the deliberate decision to call people names and steer clear of being polite.

We’ve allowed other things to become more important than social etiquette. We’ve stopped seeing it as important at all. But what if we hadn’t? Would the world be a better place?

Placing sexism aside, social etiquette like opening a car door for a woman, standing on the road side with a woman, standing up when a woman enters a room and using polite language around women all taught men to respect a woman. Conversely, a woman learnt to expect these social graces from men and the relationship between men and women was built on respecting one another.

While the roles of men and women in relationships have now changed to be much more equal than they were when these societal norms formed, there is still room for manners like this.

Perhaps if more young men were taught to treat women this way, with this level of respect, there’d be less problems with domestic violence and abuse against women. While there isn’t any direct research on this, perhaps there should be.


So maybe it’s time we brought back proper social etiquette. Tell us, do you think we should try as a society to live the way we once did? Do you think it would benefit both men and women and prevent negative attitudes towards women? Share your thoughts in the comments below…

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  1. Manners are very important they cost nothing so use them sadly many people have forgotten how to

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  3. Concur. I insist on my grandchildren using their mannners otherwise they don’t receive or get done what they are asking. People have sadly forgotten. Thank you for giving us this opportunity to voice our opinion.

  4. My school motto was “manners maketh man”.I still insist on all meals being eaten at the table,please and thank you used all the time and excuse me when necessary.I am amazed at the lack of manners nowadays.

    1 REPLY
  5. my old nanas mantra was….good grammar, good manners, will see you dine with Kings and Queens… is such a simple lesson to teach your children and grand children good manners and never usually goes unnoticed…..

  6. Most children I know have excellent manners Stop putting our youth down. After all it is us that brought them up

    3 REPLY
    • Diane no one is putting all youth down, but golly gosh traveling on public transport, or even hearing a please or thank you, and you must see the lack of respect for teachers, the elderly and such. Manners just don’t exist with a majority of youngsters. Yes I know those too who don’t slot into this category, but look out there generally and it is so so sad

    • I agree Diane, I’m sick of hearing on here about the awful youth of today, people on here need to look at themselves, just look at the rudeness & bullying that go on here over different articles, & we’re old enough to know better.

    • Yes some of the young people do have manners but unfortunately 95% of them are so raped up in the I ! Syndrome that they don’t care. I had a incident recently on a bus where the bus was full of mostly young people and not one would give me a seat until I asked a young man if i could sit down .his comment was why sould I . So i pointed out that one day he would be an older person who would like to get the same thing done for him, at this comment he got up and gave me the seat to a cheer from all of the bus passenger’s

  7. These social graces have been dropped by the way side as the world became dominated by materialism and urgency.Even sportsmanship has been lost and winning at all cost has resulted in ‘thuggish’ behaviour by players and fans. The fabric of good graciousness is being eroded by selfishness and narcissistic attitudes.

  8. Most parents these days insist on the basic please and thank you however table manners have disappeared. No elbows on the table, wait until everyone has finished before leaving the table. Families rarely eat together at the table these days! It is a shame many of the older respectful manners have gone. Many went with womens liberation and it is time they brought them back . Not just for men to respect women but also for women to respect men. It is behaviour that has deteriorated since social manners ceased to be taught !

    4 REPLY
    • Linking lack of manners with women’s liberation is drawing a long bow Carole. Not too sure about that call.

    • Not often one sees gentleman open doors for women .i say bring back the days of courting ,that’s where the manners shone .

    • Ooops sorry ,no courting these days ,the girls and guys go out get plastered And wake up in someone else’s bed

    • I agree table manners are almost nonexistent , talking loudly , interrupting ,waving their arms around ,chewing with their mouth open ( my pet hate ) having a playtime in the middle of meals . It can be very difficult to watch , especially if you were bought up with good table manners and you installed them into your own children .it worries me what sort of values the youngest generation will have . Their constant back answering ,when checked is also hard to deal with .

  9. Because parents are not teaching them. Us Baby Boomers might be old school but we sure know manners and respect – thankfully I taught my son well

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