Can we all agree to teach our kids some freaking manners?

by renegademama

In most ways, I don’t really care how you raise your special snowflake. You probably don’t care how I raise mine. Go to church, don’t. Bottle feed breastfeed play soccer play video games eat organic eat McDonald’s be a vegan. Be Amanda Chantal No-Bacon Bacon. Whatever. I don’t care. I may talk a little shit about you on the internet, but these things do not affect me and I wish you all the best with your maca powder and activated cashews.

But can we all please, as parents, agree on a few things in the interest of creating a decent community?

Despite social media feeds claiming otherwise, parents can’t create perfection. We don’t have the power to save our kids from their fatal flaws, from the mistakes they’ll make to learn critical lessons, from heartbreak and breaking hearts and doing really stupid shit in their 20s. We can try. We can do our best to help them learn, but they are who they are and they will have what I like to call: Super Unfortunate Features.

This is a daunting reality. I hate this. It hurts. I watch my kids with certain personality situations and think, “Wow, that’s going to make life hard for them if they don’t knock that shit off,” and I tell them everything I know, and I let natural consequences happen to help them learn – I do everything I can – but on some level, kids are who they are and we can’t “fix” them into a No-Problem-Ever version.

I hate not having this control. I hate feeling powerless over the fact that my kids are going to grow into the humans they were meant to become, and some of us were meant to drop acid in Honduras when we’re fifteen. NOT THAT I DID THAT.

Anywho, since we don’t have omnipotent powers, it confuses me when parents don’t take advantage of the few things we have control over, such as, for example, COMMON DECENCY.

Manners.

Basic kindness.

Not being a dick.

This is not hard. This is easy. This is like one area of parenting that isn’t complex and confusing and yet, not all parents do it.  Why? This is the “gimme” of parenting. The low-hanging fruit. The freebie.

THIS IS THE AREA WE CAN REALLY SHINE, PEOPLE.

And yet, so many assholes on the playground.

Here. Fine. Maybe we do something like this, all of us, every parent in America: “Hey kid. Don’t insult the way people eat, look, dress, or talk. Say ‘thank you’ when somebody gives you a gift.”

We could just start there and see what happens.

Is that hard? It doesn’t seem hard. And yet my kids are bombarded by kids with the manners of drunk uncles talking politics on Christmas.

My kid gets called all kinds of names, gets her lunch made fun pretty much daily, is terrified to wear anything “not pretty” because people “will make fun of her.” One of my other kids gave a “friend” from another class a Valentine and the kid in question scoffed and threw it side, asking, “Why are there only TWO candies?” My kid came home humiliated. I won’t even go into the shit my 14-year-old hears in junior high.

My kids are not perfect. They are annoying as hell sometimes. Especially in hotel rooms. They all have their “special features” that make me, on occasion, want to pummel them. Gently. Just a little.

But they have manners and know how to treat people with basic kindness because THIS IS A BASIC FUNCTION OF BEING A BASIC HUMAN and frankly we have “BASIC HUMAN” NAILED.

Basic human is my bitch.

Is it yours?

If not, why not? Why does it not matter to raise a human that functions on a  vaguely pleasant level with other humans? How the hell does a 10-year-old not know that when somebody hands you something pleasant, you say THANK YOU?

God almighty.

The other day my 5-year-old asked me about my belly. Something super subtle like, “Why is it so big?” It was an innocent observation, but still kind of a dick move, so, as her mother, I realized – like a fucking genius – that it’s my job to teach her something.

So I answered, “Because I have fat. But we don’t comment on other people’s bodies, honey. It’s rude.”

BOOM. IN THE BAG. Parenting goals. I walked outta that room like a superhero, teaching manners like a motherfucking ninja.

Do ninjas teach manners? Probably not. Sorry. I’m mixing my similes.

A few days later, somebody called her “fat” at school and told her they “hate” her pants.

Would you walk up to somebody and say, “Your pants are stupid. I hate them.”?

 Or, “Your lunch is disgusting!”

I didn’t think so.

(And if you would, please stop reading. We’re done here.)

WHAT THE FUCK HUMANS?

Clearly not everybody is doing their part here. Why have kids if you aren’t willing to help them grow into basically kind people? Why have kids if you aren’t interested in showing them how to not be assholes. 

You know the rest of us have to live with your offspring, right?

We have to share a planet with your tiny snowflake and if your tiny snowflake is a dick, nobody will like your snowflake. Someday, somebody may punch your snowflake in its snowy mouth.

But you know, all hypothetical empty threats aside, sometimes I wonder if our world has just become a giant cluster of humans scrambling to get on top. Like I wonder if parents are purposely letting their kids be assholes so they will be the bully instead of the bullied. Or maybe they’re mean to their kids. Or insult the way yet look. I don’t know. Something is wrong. It’s getting Lord of The Flies up in here.

It often feels like we do our best to raise decent kids and then we send them off into a world devoted to beating that decency out of them.

And that’s why I’m writing this. We have to work together to stop raising tiny rude people.

Or at least, fewer.

For community. For the future. For America! Raise a kid you wouldn’t mind working with. Standing next to in the DMV. Serving dinner to. Engaging with ever in any circumstances.

Kumbay-fucking-ya.

dick

more stuff I shouldn't have said out loud:

  • Shelley Garcia

    “Basic Human is My Bitch!!!!
    #BestQuoteEver
    Lol!!!! Love you girl!!

    • Stephanie Lyons

      This is the first time I have had anything from this site come across my facebook. I loved it. You are saying what alot of people out there are thinking. When you have a child it is your responsibility to teach them and a lot of parents are failing at this. They see the behavior of their kids as okay.
      My boy was bullied last year. He was told he needed to toughen up. So me being the overprotective pissed off parent that I was had words with the school and a certain set of parents. Had to explain exactly what was going to happen the next time my child came home bloodied or bruised because of their children. The parents said something to the effect that I was a crazy bitch but you know they never bothered my son after that.

      • TheRealSparkles

        I’m sorry to hear about your son. I think I’d lose my shit completely if someone put hands on my child. Crazy bitch is right. It would take everything I had to not put them in the dirt.

  • Amanda

    Sadly, their parents probably talk to one another that way.

    • Kagi

      This, right here. This is probably a large part of the real problem. Especially in kids coming from broken homes where there’s been a bad divorce, or where one or both parents are abusive. But just what you said, I think, most. You can teach them all you want – my parents certainly did – but if you don’t also live it, they’re either going to start following your example (which I did for a few years as a teenager) or give up on you in disgust as they get older and realise what a fucking hypocrite you are (where I am now at 33).

      But the younger kids, especially if they /haven’t/ been taught otherwise, but usually even if they have, they will mimic the behaviours they see at home, or if their parents aren’t treating each other that way, how they treat other people. And sadly, there are a lot of assholes out there, and quite a few of them have children. Actions speak louder than words, especially to small children. If you want them to do it, live it.

      • Rachel

        I agree. We can’t create nice kids by simply telling them not to be mean to others. It doesn’t work that way. Kids are mean because they have been hurt, not because their parents never told them to be nice. I hope my kids are nice to people, but if they are nice, it’s not because I told them to be nice, but because I was really, really nice to them since they were born, and nothing bad happened to them yet. I hope(?).

        • renegademama

          Agreed. Of course we can’t just talk at our kids to teach them to respect others through basic kindness. It’s a way of being that is of course modeled and developed through love and respect in the family. But I also think there’s a time for simply redirecting the shit that comes out of our kids’ mouths.

    • LUke

      I totally feel this… and… at the end of the day, children, being the little spongy mimics they are will emulate their environment. This planet has an overwhelming number of really amazing humans on it right now…AND it still has an extraordinary amount of a’holes on it as well. This current generation of parents is notoriously assaholic.( please disregard if you are one of the kind, considerate ones) They grew up during a time of the helicopter parent who wanted to move away from the strict, rigid, iron fist style of discipline in place of absolute praise, allowance and “you are the most special snowflake in the world” parenting. They grew up believing they could do no wrong, are the greatest gifts and frankly don’t have much of a concept of empathy. I spend a lot of time witnessing this group ( I drive Uber/Lyft a few days a week) and I am baffled at the complete lack of manners, social calibration and blatant entitlement. These same people are raising the children that shame, criticize and harass your children. How is it surprising these children do not understand gratitude when they have parents who expect everyone to bow at their feet? The best way to avoid raising children who imitate this unacceptable way of being is to give them something else to copy. We need to be kind to one another. We need to be polite. WE need to say thank you and please and excuse me… like many of us were taught growing up. WE need to be the way we want our kids to learn to be. I know so many of us are… so there is definitely hope. I’m so excited for all the amazing changes happening on the planet right now. Awareness around being better parents is tantamount to the evolution of the planet towards more kind, considerate and grateful human beings.

  • dani

    Yes. Thank you!

    My sons (3 and 6 years) love wearing leggings. Yellow leggings, striped leggings, powder blue leggings. It’s their go-to fashion choice. And I’m certainly not going to stop them from wearing what feels right for them (unless it’s covered in pee, poop, snot, or spaghetti sauce or has a hole exposing their private parts). So far no one has said anything rude to them (aside from the chuckles of some grown ups that my kids were unaware of). I’m hoping it stays that way as they get older. But I realize that depends on other people having the courtesy and decency to raise their kids to be courteous and decent. I know, unrealistic expectations…

    Thanks, as always, Janelle. You’re spot on. Keep writing. We need you! Can’t wait for your book.

    • Christina

      My 4 year old son only wears dresses and “I’m certainly not going to stop them from wearing what feels right for them (unless it’s covered in pee, poop, snot, or spaghetti sauce or has a hole exposing their private parts)” is pretty much our mantra as well! Plus seasonally appropriate. I’m all for natural consequences but I love that little fucker and I don’t want to have him dying of heat stroke on my conscience.

      • Dani

        Yes! In our house it’s usually the other way around — wanting to wear a tank top or sun shirt in below freezing snowy weather…

        • Christina

          Girl, we have the covered. Throw on a long sleeved t-shirt and a pair of cargo pants underneath. That’s his favorite outfit!

      • Kagi

        As a non-binary gendered person who was forced to conform to strict gendered roles for a very long time – thank you both for being the kind of parents I wish I’d had.

  • Susan

    Preach it!!!

  • Danielle

    What the fuck is right! Be responsible for the beings you raise and send out into the world. Like you said, we are raising someone’s spouse, friend, parent, coworker, etc. If not interested in putting forth the effort, please do us all a favor and take a pass on becoming a parent. And one more thing: how hard is it really not to be a dick?! I mean, doesn’t it take just as much…wait…actually MORE energy to be a dick in the first place? KINDNESS, sprinkle that shit everywhere!!! Thank you, Janelle. Can we make this a public service announcement? “Kumbay-Fucking-Ya”

  • Jeni

    This should be required reading for all parents. You rock.

  • Kristine

    Amen. I recently started substitute teaching and run into tiny, rude humans almost daily. I think most parents these days want to be their child’s friend rather than a parent. Well, newsflash, you can be both. It’s called boundaries. My son has special needs and gets made fun of at school frequently. Most of the kids are decent, but there are a few who continue to give him a hard time. I tell him they do it because they are sad inside and isn’t he lucky that he’s a happy kid and he should focus on those friends and family he has who love him no matter what and people are supposed to love each other because that’s what matters. Don’t know if I’m being a parenting ninja or if that’s even the right answer, but I can’t tell him what I want to tell him, which is those kids are just fucking assholes. Thanks, Janelle, as always.

    • TheRealSparkles

      I used to explain to my sixth graders that bullies are those who have something negative inside that we, as the positive people/kids, need to help them overcome. I never called any particular kid out, but addressed behaviors. Everyone knew who did what, who said what, and could see in themselves the part of what I was saying that pertained to them. I brought up the scenario of a manager being rude/angry/bullying to a worker, that worker taking their bad feelings out on their spouse, the parents then taking it out on the kids, the kids to the pets, etc. just showed them the impact of it all and how people take shit out on those they perceive as weaker. So I taught kids to, on the one hand, stand up for themselves but then to also try to have some empathy for the one lashing out. I gave a green light for them to privately say to a bully, “You obviously have some real issues to be such a dick or bitch to me” but I encouraged them to follow that up with an earnest and sincere, “if you can keep that shit in check and want a friend, let me know.” I loved talking to kids about stuff like this. “Real talk” as we called it. They appreciated it.

      • anne

        This is awesome. Your students are lucky to have you as a teacher.

  • Christina

    A boy punched my daughter because she refused to take sides in the bizarre boy vs. girl war that is raging in her kindergarten class, ya know, because she has been taught that we choose friends based on who is kind and fun and interesting, not based on their chromosomes or genitalia. Same kid whose parents chalk it up to boys being boys. More like asshole misogynists in the making being asshole misogynists in the making. Fuckers.

    • Hayley

      Oh god!! That is disgusting. His parents must be awful to each other if he thinks that’s an OK thing to do 🙁

      • Winter

        Please don’t assume that. My child unfortunately is the “dick” at school too often, despite him being a nice kid deep down, despite my husband and I modeling and teaching him over and over and over to BE KIND. So I read this and feel even worse knowing that when my child behaves badly others are judging me. Kids have crappy social skills, some worse than others. They also have anxiety, fears, peer pressure, etc.

    • TheRealSparkles

      God I hope the teacher is aware and has the balls to address how NOT ok that is in 2016. Boys being boys is such a lame bullshit excuse for being a dick.

    • Showy

      Wow–all I can think of is the opportunity that offers you to be a “PMS-ridden, hysterical bitch” when you visit their house with a baseball bat. Where do you live? I’d gladly be your crazy sister.

  • Heather

    I’m helping to raise a child whose particular form of neuroatypia involves having zero empathy and no brain-mouth filter. Turning her into a semi-decent human being is my life goal. It may kill us both. It has been a long road so far but at least she doesn’t walk up to random strangers anymore and point out how fat they are. It can be done.

  • Erin

    “It often feels like we do our best to raise decent kids and then we send them off into a world devoted to beating that decency out of them.”

    I feel this way all. the. time.

  • catherine

    AMEN … I wrote a similar blog a couple of years ago … used ‘assholes’ instead of ‘dicks’ … same thing.

  • Kenja

    Upfront let me say I totally agree with this. But let me also say that even mostly good kids will have dick days and say or do something that as a parent you know good and well you covered in “right and wrong 101.” Especially if they are trying to impress their little middle school friends. I guess at some point the kids make their own decisions and sometimes those decisions don’t reflect their upbringing. Hopefully after high school they come back to their senses (and their upbringing) and become nice humans.

    My 4 year old was waiting for the bathroom in a restaurant the other day. A little old lady came out and I helped her with the heavy door. My four year old said really loudly, “She’s OLD, Mommy!” My first inclination was to thump him on the head in embarrassment, but I just said, “honey, it’s not nice to talk about someone’s age or how they look.” And he said, “No, she just makes me think of my Memaw, and I love my Memaw.” Awwwwwww. They can be kind of cute sometimes.

  • Danielle

    I don’t think it’s deliberate, but I think there is a definite lack of focus on thinking about what kind of person your kid will be in the world — at least as far as I can tell in the area that I’m parenting. I’m pretty clear on my vision for my kids – that they are happy, healthy, and have a positive impact on the people they come into contact with throughout their lives. Honestly, I don’t think many people get to that third goal on the list, or think of themselves and their kids in any kind of societal/community context at all. It’s so tightly controlled (again, in my local area) to make sure your kid has the BEST experiences, and eats the BEST, most sugar-free, organic food, and does the BEST at school and NEVER watches TV and there’s little energy, I guess, left over for making sure your kid isn’t a dick. I don’t think it’s so much a self-preservation thing as a “the rest of the world is not my concern” attitude, which probably in the long run is more dangerous.

  • Vespachick

    My 5 year old goes to the best little preschool and all the children there are so thoughtful and polite because of the teachers they have there and the learning that goes on. When she’s in other group activities not related to the preschool, it’s so clear which children go to her school, and more importantly, which do not. Instructors always say they love the kids that go to her school because they are so well behaved and aren’t little terrors. I’m sort of dreading kindergarten in the Fall because I feel like she’ll be swimming in a sea of sharks!! Hopefully she won’t turn into one as well.

    I also recently read an article recently about how under prepared most kids around here are for Kindergarten and an astonishing amount who do not go to preschool at all (to be fair, there are not a lot of free options here; we are lucky that we can afford to send her where she goes, though it would not be any different cost-wise at a straight up daycare). Here’s hoping the Pre-K program will stick with her for ever!!

  • Carol Apple

    This is so great. I laughed, I agree, and I am duly appalled by the rudeness you describe. I must have lucked out because I never came across kids this rude. But then it’s 14 years since my youngest was in kindergarten. Maybe things have changed in the culture.

  • Jen

    My oldest is nearly 13. I recently told him, basic rule of life is “Don’t be a dick.” I now use it. Often.

  • Amanda

    Kudos, Janelle, on once again nailing it!
    The one thing that I think is absent in this discussion, though, is the role of teachers in this. I ABSOLUTELY believe parents have a moral obligation to raise well mannered, kind children, but in all fairness, good parents are not with their child all the time, and some parents just don’t do it, (don’t get me started on those losers), meaning those children need guidance more than most. If a kid has a “brain fart” and says something hurtful while at school, I would hope the teacher would use that opportunity to teach said child appropriate behaviors. Especially with a class of 4 year olds. Building resilience is one thing, leaving children parents have entrusted to your care exposed to repetitive nasty behaviors is lazy or negligent. I certainly hope your Kindergarten is being proactive in setting strong guidelines for appropriate behaviors and following through with consequences for children who repeatedly behave or speak disrespectfully towards others.
    Good luck! Your snowflakes are blessed to have you.

  • Lisa

    Kumbay-fucking-ya is forevermore going to be my go-to (used to be yippykayei motherfucker).

    Awesome post, awesome blog. Couldn’t agree more! I remember a teacher at school being really surprised cos I was prouder of the fact that my kids were kind than that they were the best in the class at math.

    I have spent YEARS of my life drumming manners and “don’t-be-a-dick” into my kids and I do not regret one single second. Also they can cook several meals and off their own bat will haul their living environment back from toxic waste levels. Occasionally. I consider all of these things successes. And forgive them for their occasional dick moments, cos, ya know, I have those too!

  • Tanya

    We have one basic rule in our household and it is “Don’t be an asshole.” And I’ve never sugarcoated it, either (I’m not that proper sweet mom). When she was 5 and started kindergarten the rule went into effect. I told her that the world is full of assholes and it was my sole responsibility to not let another one run loose in the world. Daughter says something rude, “don’t be an asshole”. Daughter doesn’t pick up her shit, “don’t be an asshole”. Daughter doesn’t say please or thank you, “don’t be an asshole”. It’s pretty much the best rule ever. And even 4 years later it makes her giggle every time I say it. BUT AT LEAST SHE ISNT AN ASSHOLE.

  • TheRealSparkles

    I am not a parent, but a former ES teacher, and if I *did* have my own special little snowflake, I would teach them vital ninja ways. I would rehearse and role-play these mean-spirited comments and situations will them and give them the tools to shut. that. shit. DOWN. In response to the little twerp who thinks the pants are ugly or lunch is disgusting – or can’t be grateful for ONLY two candies, my child would be taught the acceptability and power of cursing in warranted circumstances. A seemingly benign whisper in the ear to said classmate saying, “I don’t give a FUCK what you like or what you think. You are one rude little bitch and don’t you RVER bring that bullshit my way again.” Followed by a sweet little smile looking them dead in their eyes. Sure, they’ll go tell their teacher or parent, but I would ensure there was no witness to said comments and support my child pleading the 5th. Better yet, use the military’s “I can neither confirm nor deny those words came from my lips “.

    • Showy

      therealsparkles I think I love you….

    • somebody

      This isn’t only to you but to a lot of posters here who seem to have the same attitude: Isn’t that teaching your child to be just as snotty, just as big a jerk? You can teach a child to stand up form herself or himself without stooping to this level. Geesh, I wouldn’t want to interact with this person, either, in any way, shape or form. The original post was about teaching your kids to be good people, not more jerks.

  • Rachel Greig

    I don’t know… I think most of us DO teach these things… just not all the little punks listen, take it on-board, and ALWAYS follow through on these lessons. Let’s just blame the kids instead of heaping all the responsibility on the parents. I’m trying.

  • Jann

    I love all of your posts!!

    In this post your statement that some kids seem to want to be bullies so they do not get bullied has a lot of truth to it! I believe some of it is a need for power/control and some people just have a mean streak. I raised my kids in the 1980s-90s and I remember feeling the same way then as you do now. I taught my kids manners and kindness and sometimes I questioned if I was doing the right thing as they seemed to get walked on or overlooked at times. It seems some people take kindness as weakness. I think it is also okay to teach your kids to defend themselves (body and soul) and be kind because that is the person they want to be. I taught my kids the world is full of unkind people/acts and you have to learn to deal with them (humor is a good defense)…in a kind but firm and tactful way. Dicks are everywhere there are people such as at school, jobs, and church. But you stay true to your beliefs and you will make friends and have family that you love and these people will be the ones you can use YOUR time and energy on. The time with the ones you love will get you through dealing with all the dicks out there! Haters are going to hate so keep them out of your personal life so you can recharge and deal with the dicks when you have to!

    Keep up the good writing! I love your sense of humor 🙂

  • anne

    So many people ignore bad behaviors in young kids, like their 2yo or 3yo is just acting their age and there’s no point in correcting them. Just because it doesn’t work right away doesn’t mean there’s no point in trying – it does sink in eventually! Especially when, as other commenters have noted, teachers & parents are teaming up to reinforce good behavior.

  • Jenny

    So what DO we tell our young children to do when someone is a dick to them? What are the right words or right actions for a 6 year old when a classmate makes fun of her for wearing a “boy’s” shirt? (Nevermind that I don’t even get how a Star Wars shirt is considered gender specific attire.) I’m open to all advice.

    • Jennifer

      That’s a really good question. I have three non-binary children who used to wear whatever suited them and consequently faced a ration of shit for it. I am also a nerd raising nerds. Classmates are not very forgiving of outsiders who have a bigger vocabulary and wear non-conforming clothing and read “weird” stuff – or read anything at all.

      I spent a lot of time telling them they could stand up for themselves, that no one had the right to put hands on them, talk to them in insulting and abusive ways and to report said behaviors. My kids spent a lot of time telling me I was wrong and I didn’t know what I was talking about and things were different than when I was their age. I also spent a great deal of time in administrative offices reporting and discussing/arguing those behaviors and mostly felt like I was getting the brush off and being ignored. There was a lot of pain and a lot of tears – but they never stopped wearing their Batman T-shirts and Star Wars gear. I never sugar coated it. I told them that some people are just dicks, that there will always be dicks but that they don’t have to accept that behavior lying down. They can speak up against it – and they did, but sometimes they didn’t and that was okay too. Safety is a concern. If it’s going to get you pounded physically, it might be better to keep your voice down. But if someone got in their face, I never told them they needed to just “take it” like the schools did. Studies show that doesn’t work. Bullies will take silence as acceptance and keep on going.

      On the flip side of that, now that the three of them are approaching adulthood, I have three very strong independent human beings who take no shit and leave no prisoners. They are kind and care very deeply about the world and all three have become warriors for social justice and actually do more than just talk about it. They have been able to parlay those bitter experiences into something useful and meaningful.

      We find what works for our individual child and give them the strength to be themselves – but not be a dick either.

    • Christina

      This is exactly what we are working on with my 4 and almost 6 year old. A little boy told my 5 1/2 year old that she had a boy backpack (Star Wars of course!). My daughter told him that there are no such things as boy backpacks and girl backpacks and that both boys and girls can like star wars and like a star wars backpack. I asked her what his response was and she said that he said “Star Wars is for boys.” So I asked her how she responded to that. She said that she rolled her eyes and walked away. I was proud that she told him how he was wrong but didn’t continue to engage because it isn’t her job to convince him of it. Then we talked about how kids think these things because of the things that grown ups say and do and how grownups in media and marketing make decisions that teach little kids ideas that are wrong.

      In another example she came home last year while still in preschool and said to me “Mommy, the kids in my class are so sexist.” I of course asked her why, and she replied “They think only girls can like my little pony, and I was like, uh, you don’t need a vagina to like my little pony!”

      All in all I think the best way to handle it (and of course I’m early to this experience so I’m still learning as I go as well) is to help give them the language to respond to others. My daughter knows what it is to be sexist because we talk about that and I don’t dumb that shit down. Despite the fact that my 4 year old son likes to wear dresses no kid has been mean to him about it yet. We talk about how usually girls wear dresses (which he is aware of because he has eyes and a brain!), and let him know that people might be confused or think he is a girl because he is wearing a dress. We told him that he can kindly correct them or he can ignore it if it doesn’t bother him.

      We haven’t had to deal with too much bullying yet but have let my daughter know that if someone is hurting her body and she is able to get away or it has stopped she should first use her words to tell the person that this is unacceptable (so if someone punches you or pushes you tell them that is not ok and to keep their hands off of your body). If they don’t listen then you should let a teacher or grown up know. But if someone is hurting you and you can’t get them to stop and you can’t get away to tell a teacher (like if someone has you up against a wall or is really hitting you and you are stuck), then you do what you need to do physically to get away from that person whether it be punching them in the face, kneeing them in the balls or whatever. I let her know that this is not the first option but sometimes it is the only option and I will always support her if she is protecting herself.

  • Catherine

    I love love love reading what you write and usually finish reading a piece saying ‘you go girl’… but this one touches a bit of a nerve and I finished this one asking myself if you understood the difference between ‘teaching’ and ‘learning’. You are right – all parents should teach their kids basic decency, manners etc. And all kids should learn those things. But just because a kid is a dick doesn’t mean that their parents didn’t try to teach them not to be. As you say, they are who they are and we can’t make them perfect – sometimes we can’t even make them nice. And sometimes (speaking from hard experience) we raise kids who don’t learn what we try to teach them. Ever. Some asshole kids have asshole parents … but not always. sometimes they are just pint sized assholes all in their own right. And sometimes they learn not to be dicks if people help the parents teach them ….

  • sherry christie

    hey Janelle I love your writing, but this is the first time I disagree. You seem to suggest all bad mannered kids are the product of bad parenting. This is simply not the case. I go through hell with my son, we are a very polite family, my 18 month baby says thank you and please. BUT social manners such as not saying rude things come really hard to some kids, especially children with autism or Aspergers who cannot help being “honest” and just don’t get social manners. If you are fat, these children will ask why, it is in their nature to be honest. Even kids without mental disorders find “manners above honesty”, very confusing. I’m surprised at you labelling parents like this, you don’t know what hell and embarrassment lovely polite parents go through, when their children don’t show social manners and are “the dick”

  • Melanie

    Amen sister! Love it!

  • Jen Dhaliwal

    I couldn’t have said it better myself! Almost 6 year old Ava and I talk about manners on almost a daily basis! Situations come up, and those are teaching moments. You can’t let those pass you by! I chaperoned a field trip for her kindergarten class recently, and it was EASY to spot the kids who aren’t teaching their kids manners. That makes my job even harder, as I have to teach Ava how to respond to THAT with kindness.

  • erin

    This is not just a problem happening in the States. Im an American living in Germany and the amount of disrespect and cruelty I see from kids over here makes me want to pull my hair out. I see kids pushing elderly out of the way to be first on the bus (kids can ride the public buses to school here starting at like age 6…different reality) or they will consistently interrupt conversation I am trying to have with their parents, demanding to be heard THs SECOND and the parents do it! Or, last night while out to dinner with my husband and a friend, this seven-ish year old boy from another table walked by, gave me the look of death and stuck his tongue out at me in anger for no fucking reason. I dont get it, I work with children 0-3 and they certainly dont start out that way so obviously this behavior is either being taught or, at the least, not hindered. I dont have children of my own yet but Ive always said I dont care who they end uo being as long as they always know to be kind. As you mentioned, how is this so hard? Honestly sometimes I think its this new way of parenting where people pussy foot around their kids bc theyre scared of damaging them emotionally and in the end they raise kids who just damage others emotions.

  • Susan

    Funny and I agree that teaching kindness is very important and modeling it in the home has the biggest impact because kids observe and some imitate, I say some because kids have free will, ha ha! But, I have to say that just like kids grow up and despite guidance and modeling in some other areas like avoiding drugs, making bad school decisions, sometimes that cute polite little kid, even despite being raised showing the value of kindness, as pre-teens and teenagers some can be pretty shitty to parents and peers. It depends on the kid. I have seen the demon come out during the teen years with one of my kids (I have three kind 20 somethings now) and then see it recede and then see the young adult pop out on the other side of hell reflecting the deep down kindness that was there but that seemed to have disappeared for a while…. I guess I am just saying that sometimes teen years are really difficult and you can question what happened to your polite kind hearted kid. Just like a kid needing to learn the hard way on other things that you teach and guide them about, sometimes they “fail” with kindness when going through their self-centered stage of life. And then they look back at videos of themselves and say “wow, I was a dick!” That actually happened here, ha ha!

  • pc

    Love this article. So true. My youngest will actually mumble “dick move” when someone does something he thinks is rude or mean. That sounds like my snowflake is rude but in fact, I have been stopped by many adults who tell me how polite he is because he always says thank you, introduces himself and new members to a group, and is empathic. Traits so uncommon today in an 18 year old that people are shocked an 18 year old with Down syndrome would get it.

  • Jaime

    Your valentine story reminded me of one from my son. At their school party (he’s 7) each kid brought in one bag with a few treats in it for someone else in the class (capri sun, candy, non-candy item). They didn’t know who would get which bag. My son’s friend (8 years old) CRIED AND WHINED because he didn’t get enough in his bag! I would have been completely shocked, but this is something that has happened before. I had a talk with my son about how maybe that person’s parents didn’t have a lot of money so couldn’t fill the bag, and we are grateful for whatever we get because WE ARE NOT ASSHOLES. (His response: “I know, MOM!” Because I say it all the time because I DON’T WANT MY CHILDREN TO BE ASSHOLES.)

    I just … no. We don’t act like that. (I am 95% sure his mom took him out to get treats because her special snowflake was sad.)

  • April

    This screwed me right in my heart! I lost a very dear friendship with a woman whose kids were little fuckheads and she COULD NOT SEE IT and would not deal with it. OK, I had a couple (a lot) of eye rolls here and there and some sighs (loud) and she felt judged and so the relationship became “toxic.” Toxic is the new word for a relationship where you’re being a fucker and don’t realize it and the other person is sick of you. Anyway, I WAS judging her! I was judging her for WTF make your kids treat mine with a little decency! Her response: You just got lucky and got kids who are nice. Argh! Did I really just get blamed for pushing out naturally nice kids? Really? Because I thought I had to put some effort into teaching these self-centered little beings how things are in this world. It’s not genetic!!
    Oh, and I also got this one: Your standards are too high. Really? When did not telling someone that the picture they made you is ugly a high standard??
    Here are some other great ones I’ve gotten:
    “My kid has ADD, that’s why she pushed your kid”; “My kid made fun of your kid’s crooked teeth? I didnt hear anything about that.” (As if the kid would run home and tell her mom that she was being a little wicked bitch.); From a mom whose kid slapped my kid in the face when she didn’t get the seat my kid was in: “I didn’t think to tell you about it.” That’s because assault is illegal!!! And mean! Stop making mean people everyone! When you make your people, make them nice, at least try a little bit. Please.

  • Marisa

    A constant theme in our home, be KIND!!!!!!

  • Meagan

    So much YES it hurts!!! Especially the part where people are allowing their little assholes to be assholes so they aren’t the poor sap getting picked on. As a former sap myself, I can totally appreciate that sentiment…it’s kind of like when someone screws you over and you just take it but 3 hours later you have all these witty remarks that you would just looooove to hurl in their direction but you don’t because you are the good guy and you just don’t have it in you to purposely hurt someone else.
    Yes, it’s a dog eat dog world! Survival of the fittest and all, but sometimes I think you take the risk of your kid getting hurt in the hopes that what doesn’t kill them will make them stronger. I certainly hold tight to that hope. I am genuinely comforted by people who have the balls to do what is right, even if it means with almost certainty that it will not protect their kids and might even open them up to being hurt. It’s a risk that has to be taken in order to raise a generation of decent human beings. You are literally my spirit animal Janelle ✌️

  • Brandi

    I agree with the concept, I’m pretty bare bones with parenting and raising kids who aren’t assholes is kinda my main goal. In fact, I’d rather have a non asshole kid than one who becomes a dr or lawyer, if you know what I mean. But, there are always going to be dicks–as kids and as adults, cause most of the time, these kids are coming from dick parents.

    We can’t really control how other people parent, or how their kids behave. My main goal is to try and give my kids the confidence to be who they are, and to teach them empathy for others. A long time ago I watched an Oprah I’ll never forget in which she said, essentially, when people are nasty to you, it always about them more than it is about you. And that is what I try to show my kids. Dicks are generally insecure or feel unloved or hurt or whatever. It doesn’t stop them from being how they are, but it helps to understand that the bad behavior directed at my child doesn’t have anything to do with something wrong with my child. It’s all on the asshole kid, and his/her parents. So if you can raise kids who have some self confidence and a sort of understanding…I think it helps deal with these situations. (For example, ‘that kid is just jealous that your mommy packs you such an awesome lunch, and he has to buy the icky school crap, sweetheart…’)

    Luckily, we haven’t really had to deal with this a lot. Small school with uniforms.

  • Darby

    Love this one. I was raised in a family where the only reminder out of my mom before we went to someone’s home was “remember to say please and thank-you”. It is such a simple gesture and one that goes a long way. We were raised in the 50’s and 60’s by fairly progressive parents for the time. We had a lot of latitude to explore personality but always within the realm of not being a dick. You are absolutely correct: it is the low hanging fruit of parenting.

  • Katrina

    Thank you!!! My 5 year old also has been getting comments on his lunch! One time he came home with all his french toast uneaten because a classmate told him it was gross and not healthy. Another time he claimed he didn’t like perogies(his favorite) anymore because another classmate said they were disgusting when he had them for lunch. I don’t know where all this is coming from. I asked him if he’s asking the kids what they think of his lunch? He said no. So why do they feel the need to comment?! Because they’re dicks? Probably. I get comments on how polite my son is… he knows to say pardon me, thank you, please, etc… this shouldn’t be an anomaly!

  • Alex Hall

    By now, the best way to improve your point is to demonstrate basic manners and civility by ceasing any public use of words that offend people.

    Language like that on the internet is so common that I have to sincerely wonder whether most people are aware anymore that there are terms considered offensive or very unnecessary in public dialogue, and that it’s a good idea, if you care about people, to avoid using language that may offend others.

    But isn’t it also possible that my public affront here may offend you or others? That’s an excellent question with subjective answers. This is my answer: because I know that many folks, especially older folks, miss a time and place where it was commonly understood that all language should be polite, it would be a disservice to them not to stand up and say: I’m here with you folks. I don’t like this either.

    It would also be a disservice to you to let you get away with displaying such glaring hypocrisy, and possibly continue in the delusion that it was necessary for you to use “salty” language.

    • Marisa

      This must be the first time you’ve read her blog…

      • Alex Hall

        It doesn’t need to by anyone’s first or hundredth read of anything at a blog to offer valid feedback.

  • Monique

    I think one of the problems leading to current bad manners in kids is the obsessive need to teach kids to be assertive, especially girls. Children can be assertive and stand up for themselves and their rights without being, to use your loved term, assholes. E.g. Assertive: telling someone to Stop if they are invading your personal space in a way that makes you uncomfortable, standing up for what you believe in, in a polite way, even when others disagree. Asshole: taking advantage of a polite 4 yr old in line to get her face painted and pushing in with all your friends because you can see she is smaller than you (by many years), friendly and wants to help others. This is taking advantage of someone and being an asshole.
    I hate that teaching your children manners means that other kids will sometimes walk all over them but i do it anyway because they will ultimately be better off and happier, hopefully, by the time I am not there to help and protect them a bit. By teaching your child that there are assholes out there and they need to be assholes to combat it, you are just perpetuating self-centred rather than community minded attitudes that get us into these crappy situations in the first place. If everyone was a bit more polite, friendly and community minded we could be assertive, discuss what we want without others taking offence, negotiate and work out situations that best suit most parties and the world would be a better place

  • Amy

    There are a lot of assholes in the world aren’t there? Something I was always aware of but never really understood the extent and repercussions of until I had my own baby a year ago. Now my mommy heart breaks when I see all kinds of disrespectful and hurtful behaviour in the world. Now, the internet has allowed all kinds of douche bags to spread their bullshit, bully and try to break others down.
    Take this asshole for example.
    http://shawnsjames.blogspot.ca/2012/08/why-real-men-avoid-single-mothers.html?m=1

    So thank you Janelle for using the internet and your powers for good not evil 😉 It gives me hope that my daughter will go to school with kids like yours (and your other like-minded readers) and she won’t be broken by the time she’s a teenager. I noticed when I had a baby everyone talks about all the things they think you hope your kid (and theirs) will be (amazing athlete, great composer, genius up for nobel prize) and yes all that’s great and who wouldn’t be proud of their freakin’ kid but I’ve always thought what you just wrote. If I can raise a conscious human being with manners then I’ve done my job well.

  • Amanda Larson

    Coach girls basketball. Girls can be bitches. Run a spring team. The bitches want to be on my spring team. I hand pick my spring team and none of them are bitches. Snotty, but talented, girl asked to play on my team, and I was straight up. I have to put up with you on the school team because you’re good. However, I run my spring team and it’s a bench of girls who I want to spend hours with, and who will build up instead of tearing down. If you want to play next year, don’t be a bitch during regular season and we will see. In earnest, she asked what she needed to change, and I was utterly saddened that she didn’t know–stop calling your teammates names, be positive after a tough loss, don’t ask a teammate if she ‘couldn’t find a size larger’ for uniform shorts, don’t walk off during a drill to answer your phone, don’t text on the bench/during time outs/in practice, and take note every single time I have corrected you during those events! BE NICE OR LEAVE!

  • Thi

    Wordddddddd. It’s like we are the same freaking person!!!

  • Rebekah Hudson

    I don’t have kids but I want to start reading your blogs because this was absolutely hilarious. Forwarded to all of my friends who are moms in yoga pants. Thanks for the laugh!

  • Emily

    You know, I really have to think that there are enough adults out there now doing this that they’ve really lost track of what is even vaguely reasonable or appropriate. Does that make me crotchety? I don’t consider myself cynical, but goddamn.

  • Dom

    Yes, because tiny rude people grow into big rude people. And we all know how THOSE people are to live with.

    I just discovered your blog. And I love it. Thanks for writing it.