Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Taking Responsibility is Good Manners

Accepting responsibility for one’s actions, is taking the first step in becoming a healthy-minded and polite adult. Showing respect for others, while retaining respect for oneself, is the basis of all good manners and etiquette. – “My bad” has become an all too common phrase nowadays. It’s evolved into a flippant response to a serious issue. To allow a child or teen to casually take responsibility for doing wrong, with a “my bad” or “whoopsie!” while not actually acting responsibly or showing any remorse for their actions, is just asking for a spoiled adult to emerge later on. Until one learns to accept responsibility for one’s own actions, failures and accidents, it will be very difficult to develop the self-respect needed to show respect to others, or even earn the respect of others.

“You Naughty Chair, You!” 

“Naughty chair—you made me fall down. I hate you. I'll hit you.” Thus instinctively cries the toddler, and thus, too, in essence, cries many an adult in adversity. Perhaps one of the most difficult things which any of us has to learn, is to admit ourselves the authors of our own mishaps. It is too much easier to cry “naughty chair” than to place where it belongs the responsibility for our own blunders, awkwardnesses and stupidities. To blame the force of circumstances, the stenographer, business depression or the weather, is far more comfortable than to admit that we are inefficient, lazy, cowardly and prone to be sorry for ourselves. 

It is human nature to look for a scape goat, and only proper education can check the universal tendency. Many mothers in thoughtless sympathy tell the child who has tripped and fallen to “spank the rug” for being so wicked as to knock him down. They help him blame the hammer that hit his thumb and think it funny when he stamps on the pin that pricked his finger. He is permitted to brand as “bad” anything which makes him unhappy or balks his wishes. He is allowed to get relief from whatever makes him uncomfortable by placing the blame on something or somebody else. 

The child is most likely to be happy and successful in adult life, who, when he has tripped over a chair and hurt himself, picks himself up, rubs the sore spot, wipes away the tears that spring to his eyes, and proceeds to place the chair where he won’t be tripping over it again. When, because he jammed his finger in the door, he feels impelled to pull the cat’s tail, he should not be laughed at, but made to realize that when we have pain we don’t take it out on the nearest victim, but grit our teeth and bear it while it lasts. – From Talks to Parents by Mrs. Agnes Lyne, 1929

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia

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