Military and Kids and Manners, Oh My...


I belched in the shower the other day.  The belch itself isn’t so remarkable, really, as is what happened afterward.

I said, “Excuse me.”

In the shower.


Now, I’m a born and bred southerner, and manners are ingrained in my very soul, having been imparted to me right along with the Coca~Cola in my bottle.  My upbringing is probably why I pardoned myself to the shampoo bottles and soap.  I have noticed, however, that not everyone feels the same way I do about manners.

For our last duty station, we spent two years in the northeast, where people tend to be more… abrupt, shall we say, than I was used to.  They get down to business without much of the small talk that is part of the ritual here in the south. They don’t really comment about the weather, and they never ask whether you’ve tried that new Mexican food place down the block.  Sometimes, they even act a little miffed that you have the audacity to ask them to do their jobs.

I realized that I’d become accustomed to it when we went home to Texas for block leave before our PCS overseas.  My husband and I spent some time walking around the Galleria in Houston, where we received a hale and hearty, “Hi, welcome to {insert store name here}!!” for every store we entered.  Each time, it startled me that they were so loud or that they even cared that we had arrived.  And that struck me as sad.  What’s so wrong with being friendly?!?

Personally, I’m obsessive about “please” and “thank you.”  My children rarely receive what they’ve asked for until I hear a “please”, and I insist that they say “thank you” afterward.  We’ve worked hard to teach our son, who is 7 years old, to stand up straight, make eye contact, give a firm handshake, and say “Pleased to meet you” when he’s introduced to an adult.  Our two-year-old daughter is in training for the same thing.  They say “sir” and “ma’am” to everyone over the age of 20, as well as anyone who has a position of authority or wears a uniform.

Additionally, we are teaching our children the importance of proper behavior in proper places and at proper times.  They are learning how to behave when the pledge of allegiance is said, when the national anthem is played, when they are at national monuments or places of importance on military bases.

Now, this may all be part of my upbringing with a little military etiquette thrown in, but I wondered if service members and their families work harder than the general public to instill manners in their children?  How important is it to you that your children address others, specifically service members or even NCOs or COs, with proper manners? Do you insist that they use “sir” and “ma’am?”  Do you think that military children, in general, have better manners than their civilian counterparts?

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