We Grandparents Are Role Models For Civics and Civility And Good Manners To Our Grandchildren And More

Treating People WellI grimace and shake my head every time I am stopped at a crosswalk and a person with earbuds staring at his or her phone walks into the street without even looking up. Or the person is before me in the supermarket line paying without looking up at the cashier or anyone but the screen in front of them. Or the same person is anywhere in public, oblivious to being in public. We are living in a time where electronics and social media have taken priority over civility, good manners, and even safety.

This Grandma has taken pictures of our multi generational family sitting on our large sectional sofa, each staring at his or her own electronics. When I look at the grandchildren’s annual photo albums, I find too many of those pictures. Their parents do put controls on the when and how the grandchildren are exposed to their electronics, but this Grandma is convinced that we, Boomer Grandparents can do more.

First, civics education has been one of the areas of local school district budget cuts. Inquire as to whether that has occurred in your grandchildren’s school districts. Advocate for return of civics education. Yes, I remember it as boring as a child, but children need to know about how to be a responsible American. Take a look at the Civic Education Initiative website  which includes their goal as follows:

“The Civics Education Initiative is a first step to ensure all students are taught basic civics about how our government works, and who we are as a nation…things every student must learn to be ready for active, engaged citizenship.”

My Holocaust survivor parents took the civics exam to become American citizens at their first opportunity and I remember them telling me how hard they studied for it. The exam is on the website. Can you pass it? Take it with your grandchildren and see if they could pass at this link.

Vote!  Be a super super voter who votes in every election, large or small, and tell your grandchildren.  Talk about the difference and privilege of being an American, and also the responsibilities of being an American in our world. Their parents may object to us watching much of the news on television with them in the current climate, but encourage the grandchildren to have a world view and the place of America as a role model to the world.

Active and engaged is the opposite of what I see among our grandchildren. They are more interested in watching other children open wrapped presents and describe them or a water bottle challenge on You Tube.

Transition with them from civics to civility, explaining the importance of these personally and as a proud and lucky person to be an American, defined in the Children’s Dictionary, at this link

1 : civilized conduct; especially : COURTESY 1, politeness

2 : a polite act or expression

Why should we grandparents actively intercede now? In the Washington Post, January 17, 2018, I read about a new book written on civility, “Treating People Well: The Extraordinary Power of Civility at Work and in Life” in “We live in uncivil times. Two former White House social secretaries offer a cure,” by Roxanne Roberts at this link.  The book is by Bernard Berman, who worked for Barack and Michelle Obama, and Lea Berman, who worked for George W. and Laura Bush. Recently released, it is already an Amazon best seller.

Roxanne Roberts quotes the authors:

“Some people heap disrespect on anyone who dares oppose them, tap into anger and manipulate it for their own benefit, and don’t seem to see anything wrong with that,” they write. “If bad behavior is contagious — as many studies have shown it is — we’re in an epidemic. . . . .”

And what to do and not do:

“. . . .civility is in most people’s self-interest. “ It’s the smart thing to do,” says Bernard. Being kind to other people encourages them to be nice to you. Bad behavior begets more bad behavior. You honk, somebody honks back, and things can get ugly really fast.”

Roxanne Roberts ends her article with tips from the authors we can share with our grandchildren.

“How to make an uncivil world more civil?”

“Ignore as much of it as you can,” says Berman. “Deflect what you can’t ignore. And when things are really, really terrible, you emotionally detach. Refuse to be drawn into the drama of the bad behavior, because that’s usually what the person behaving badly is seeking. It’s like gasoline on a fire.”

“In short, decide not to get mad every time someone is rude. It’s probably not personal, and will just make you unhappy. And start being kind.”

“You get on a bus, you say hello to the driver and make eye contact,” says Berman. “You go into a store, take your ear buds out and say thank you to the cashier. Start with the simplest things that help us reestablish our humanity with each other”

Aha! The earbuds are noticed by everyone! Point that out to the grandchildren when you see it. You can vent your frustration and disgust to discourage the grandchildren from emulating this bad and unsafe behavior. This Grandma is now sorry I bought ear buds for grandchildren for the holidays.

The responsibility to raise the grandchildren falls primarily on their parents, but civics and civility should transcend the generations.

How can we Grandparents make a difference? We can reinforce with our grandchildren from the earliest age the common courtesy of looking everyone in the eyes when greeting them and smiling. We can reinforce “please,” “thank you,” and “you’re welcome.” We can reinforce them saying hello and goodbye. We can have them not wear earbuds in public.

We can show our grandchildren by example that there is a great benefit to politeness to others. Being kind and nice to others is an example to our grandchildren. We can show them that a smile, a greeting, to everyone, even strangers, is a good way be successful and contribute to the success of our society, an investment in the future of their society and as Americans as they travel our world.

My mother, GG (Great Grandmother), used to say, “You get more with honey than with vinegar.” It is okay if you steal that phrase and use it with your grandchildren.

And if you want more tips to pass along to the grandchildren, on how to “[m]ake every person who walk[s] through the door feel welcomed, valued and comfortable, “  buy the book on Amazon.





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