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Teach your children well

By Paul Viau | Aug 17, 2016
Photo by: File photo WALK TALL, PARENTS — Teach your children respect and manners and you can 'hold your head high' all your lifetime.

It seems that the message of Crosby Stills Nash & Young might be lost on today’s ‘young.’ My wife and I came to this conclusion while walking Lake Junaluska, where it is common courtesy to greet other walkers as you encounter them.

“Hello, Good morning, How are you?” — We’ve happily heard them all, and cheerfully reply — But the walkers doing the talking are almost exclusively over 30-something. The younger walkers mostly avoid eye contact, look down, look away or just stare in a life-less, Zombie-like gaze.

We’ve also noticed that the 20-something walkers are often ‘glued’ to their cell phones, as if searching for the next Pokémon, or maybe they need Google Map directions to make it around the lake.

So (like most generations of adults before us) we started asking ourselves (the title of another song, this time from “Bye, Bye Birdie”) — “What’s the matter with kids today?”

Our conclusion is that parents just aren’t doing a very good job of teaching them the social graces.

On a positive note, we did recently encounter a three-generational family walking Lake Junaluska, led by what appeared to be the grandchildren. As we made eye contact with the boy in the lead, we smiled and said, ‘Good morning.”

He looked to what appeared to be his Grandmother for approval, and getting her nod, shyly smiled and said, “Hi.”

It was a simple but pleasant exchange of ‘niceties’,’ but his behavior is (sadly) the exception rather than the rule. Most Gen-X’rs, -Y’rs and -Z’rs completely ignored us, as if we were invisible.

Now, don’t get me wrong — I am quite used to being ignored. At the golf course, where I frequently work as a starter, I can say, “Cart path only” until I am blue in the face, and still watch people take their carts out onto the fairway.

At home, I can ask our cats to come back in the house, and hardly get a head-turn — unless a meal is involved.

And even my wife has learned to turn a deaf ear to a lot of what I say, but as most of you know — marriage goes both ways.

Our disappointment is with today’s teens, plus the 20-something and 30-something out there. I would love for them to be the best and the brightest among us. But aside from recent Olympic coverage, there are precious few bright spots. And for the most part, we blame the parents and grandparents — not the kids — for not insisting on ‘good manners’ as part of their children’s upbringing.

Please. Thank you. Excuse me. Nice to meet you. I’m sorry.

Yes, politeness, in general, has reached a sorry state. And what ever happened to “Thank You” notes? These days, they are few and far between.

But if the parents set the standard, the kids will follow.

An important part of that is teaching children to show respect to everyone who crosses their path along the road of life — including (and dare I say especially) their elders — even on that narrow path in and around Lake Junaluska.

So, please — encourage your children to say, ‘hey,’ to nice looking columnists and their wife. Engage them in polite conversation. And who knows — your children may be the topic of my next column.

Thank you for caring.