Monday, October 5, 2009
Etiquette and the American Teenager - Not a Pretty Picture
I had so much fun reading through my mother's old book of etiquette by the grande dame of good manners, Emily Post. So many antiquated rules of behavior, like how to hold balls and dances, the duties of debutantes, proper table settings for teas and luncheons, are a lovely reminder of how refined we once were in some respects as a society years ago. I found her first book online, originally printed in 1922, and had to laugh when I read this from her chapter on conversation:
There's no doubt that what was considered good conversation in 1922 would be quaint and funny to us today, but the basic principle of showing consideration to those listening to you, and choosing topics interesting to others, seems to be less than common among many young girls and women I know.
Knowing how to converse with people of other ages and backgrounds, of different educations and professions should be a skill that continues, especially among Christians who carry the command to spread the Good News of the Kingdom of God. Communicating and reaching out through words is essential! But if I pick out a random sampling of young people in church under 25, nine out of ten will not know how to look me in the eye and say a simple "good morning" with a smile. I know - I've tried. Asking a simple question about what they think of the latest movie will at best get you a, "I dunno, I liked it I guess," while staring at the wall and fidgeting. Makes you want to slap somebody, but then of course you don't because Emily Post would not approve,
Which makes me think its time to bring back the old finishing schools of the past that taught manners and polite behavior - Victorian England here we come! Not that I feel that the world needs more debutantes and tea parties, but a fear that perhaps some Darwinian laws are actually coming into effect and the American teenager is devolving back into primordial slime...
For those young women whom I personally know (yes, you do come under the 9 out of 10 example), send me your feedback. What would you think of some classes in communicating skills? I eagerly await your response!