The people's voice of reason

Tears & Laughter: Don't be rude!

Did you see the report – “Parenting priorities: international attitudes towards raising children” – conducted by King’s College London that found American parents are the least likely to think good manners matter for children?

The survey included participants from 24 countries asking them to choose five qualities they thought were essential for children to learn at home. Those choices were good manners, tolerance, independent, hard work, and respect for others.

In Egypt, parents evidently feel very strongly that manners matter. Egypt claimed first place in this survey with 96% of participants reporting that teaching children good manners at home is important.

Second place went to Nigeria with 89% of respondents indicating that teaching their children excellent manners is a priority.

Let’s repeat that because the eye may need to hit on that twice. Nigeria – a third world country, which by definition means it has low human development – took second place in a survey about the importance of manners.

Third went to yet another third world country, Morocco, at 88%.

The United Kingdom was only slightly behind them, coming in sixth at 85% - and yet, they still ranked lowest internationally. But the United States, the world’s superpower, was dead last. Not near the bottom, no, rock bottom at 52%.

I take it that a lot of us here in America don’t give a damn. We seem to have completely given up and surrendered to our children. And frankly, it may be beginning to show a little in our society.

Another part of this same parenting survey studied attitudes toward obedience.

One aspect of children’s behavior is the degree to which they listen to and obey their parents and other trusted adults in positions of authority.

Nigeria was first in this category with 58% of participating parents marking obedience as important. Nigerian parents seem to mean business with their kids, but again, the United States was way down in the lower half of the table with only 21% of placing any importance on obedience.

It didn’t just start. There has been a decline in the value placed on obedience in the United States, as well as other Western nations, since 1990 – way back when 76% of American parents felt manners and obedience were important.

Today, the qualities parents in America value most are tolerance of others, independence, and diligence.

I’m not convinced frustrated employers hiring the young adults coming of age after being raised with the more relaxed attitude would agree with the diligence part. Maybe…but I doubt it.

There may be a bit of work left to do with the tolerance and independence parts too. Tolerance doesn’t involve being judgmental and cherry picking, and independence means moving out from mom and dad’s – both physically and financially – before turning 36.

As we strive to diligently tolerate one another’s independence…can’t we still teach manners? They are easy. All you need to do to teach them is to have them.

Amanda Walker is a columnist and contributor with, The Birmingham News, Selma Times Journal, Thomasville Times, West Alabama Watchman, and Alabama Gazette. Contact her at or at


Reader Comments(0)