Teaching Manners To Children Other Than Your Own

Growing up, manners were no small joke in our household. Lessons learned that I used to find embarrassing I am grateful for today. I was taught to not only say hello to the parent of a friend I was calling on the telephone but announce who I was. Friends who called me on the phone and gave the usual, "Is Reedu there?" were answered by my mom with a "Yes," and a dial tone.

Something else they ingrained in our youthful psyche is to always respect our elders. That not only meant holding open doors, we were also taught to offer up our seat as well. Respect for my elders became more finely tuned years later when I began volunteering with hospice and Alzheimer's patients in New York City.

While I am grateful that my friends' parents found me polite and respectful, and that elderly people have had visions of me settling down with their grandsons, I don't know that I would have taken lightly to such discipline being enforced by anyone other than my folks.

So you could imagine my horror, (not necessarily surprise) when me and my mom were exiting Chipotle today and she snapped at two kids who didn't hold open the door for me and the monstrosity of a baby stroller that I was pushing.

The kids were 12, maybe 13 years old and were walking in through the first set of double doors as we happened to be walking out of the second set of double doors. They changed their young, adolescent minds at the last second and turned out the door they just came through with the glass making a notable thud against the front tire of my baby jogger.

It was not purposeful so I didn't think much of it, especially when I saw a package of "bang snaps" in their hands. But my mom thought a whole lot of it and let them know. She marched up to them and cracked, "You don't close a door on a baby carriage!" Bang. Snap.

Up until that point they stood on the busy Brooklyn sidewalk giggling and frantically trying to open the package of bang snaps as if they were about to pull off the prank of all pranks on a friend who was following close behind. But now they stood there dazed and confused, looking around for a baby stroller. (Mind you I was I was halfway down the block at this point.)

Part of me knows that my mom was merely trying to protect me and stick up for me, which I appreciate, as I would certainly do the same for my children. But at the same time, I took issue with the fact that she felt the need to discipline somebody else's children. I'm not sure I would want a perfect stranger scolding my son should he get caught up in an innocent pubescent moment. And there will be many of them, I am sure.

Maybe it was the zen mood that comes with a satisfying meal at my favorite fast food joint, maybe it was the kids' look on their faces as they facetiously negotiated the bang snaps, or maybe it was the fact that children today are hopeless. In any case, I didn't think it was a big deal. I also didn't think it warranted a lesson from my mom.

My thinking is that kids who purposely close doors on women with baby carriages, or on their elders' for that matter, will have many of life's doors close on them. What's that saying... what goes around comes around?

How do you feel about other people, or even strangers for that matter, teaching manners to your children?

~Reedu blogs at ReeWrite and The Huffington Post. You can follow her at @Reedu.


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