When I was a brand new mom, I began my quest of finding what worked for our family. I think every new mom does just that. Every new mom has been there. Maybe they use something from their past, maybe they seek advice from friends. I am a hardcore researcher so I immediately took to Google looking for articles from parenting experts.
I stumbled on Attachment Parenting (AP). The basic theory behind AP is that if your children are attached to you, when they are ready they’ll be confident, strong, independent individuals. So I decided, “That’s what I am.” And that was that.
Except it wasn’t.
One day while I was browsing my Facebook feed (as I do, many times a day), I stumbled on an article from an AP group about how awful it was to force your children to use manners. Immediately, I was worried I was doing something wrong because someone else said I was. Was I forcing my children to consent to something against their will? Was I pushing them to a place that opened them up to abuse?
As I’m sure we all know, parenting in the digital age is fraught with judgment, uncertainty and information overload. One blogger says this, the other blogger says the opposite. One news source says one thing and the other says something completely different. It’s often times confusing to figure out if what you’re doing is the right thing when you have 20 different opinions shoved in your face daily. There are even mom comedians who devote entire videos to how ridiculous it is.
After battling with it, back and forth, I realized something. Asking your children to say, “please” or “thank you” is not make-or-break. It’s not a hugely defining characteristic. It doesn’t affect their safety. In my opinion, it simply teaches them respect for others.
I have taught them through modeling. If I ask them something, I always end with “please.” If they listen, I always respond, “thank you.” I have the expectation that they do the same for others and if they do not, I help them remember. It’s as simple as that.
My main lesson learned in this experience is to trust yourself and determine if this particular thing is a big deal. I believe manners should be modeled from a young age, to respect my children and expect them to remember to be kind and respectful as well. I also learned that maybe I need to shut down social media once in a while and parent on instinct.
You’ll always hear me say, “Your baby is not a statistic.” The only expert on your specific child is you. It’s helpful to have expert opinions to turn to when you don’t know what to do. It’s less helpful to have your judgment clouded because people are shoving things down your throat.
In our house we say “please” and “thank you,” and that’s what works for us.