Of course, as parents you are continually teaching your child good etiquette. This is one of those overlooked, not often talked about, assumptions of parenting. No one wants to have that child. We all want to have this polite and respectful version of ourselves reflected through our children.
As your child grows, the etiquette responsibility gets upped. Mostly because you are preparing your baby for soon-to-be adulthood. Hence this list is made for you. This is a list to help you with this next step of life you are preparing your beloved for.
This list also shouldn’t overwhelm you. Etiquette lessons are usually brief in explanation and reinforced with practice. You can teach this stuff in the rhythms of your life. I’m just reminding you to think of teaching this stuff. Cheering you on all along the way.
Where is the brave faith lesson in all of this? Teens may not know that these etiquette rules are kindness to the other. Etiquette defined is simple kindness. These kindnesses just may have never occurred to your teen. This is why teens still have parents.
Teens are capable of learning these etiquette rules:
- Being on time for appointments or whatever plans is a sign of respect.
- RSVP to an invitation. This is “adulting 101” as this is something your teen can learn now.
- Give any other person you are in conversation with your full attention. This means no texting or ear buds in ears, etc. Your teen may be able to pay full attention because they are excellent multi-taskers so explain to your beloved that this is still perceived as rude. This one may need some explaining.
- Speak with respect to one another on the phone or in a text. Every time.
- Don’t text when you’re angry. Ever. Anger can blind you and result in doing or saying things that you later regret. This is a good life rule.
- Don’t emoji your adult relationships. Use your words. Yes, there may be the cool uncle you are delighted your teen has a relationship with and they speak emoji to each other. Your cool uncle can then be brought into this lesson to help train your teen to know how to speak with words.
- Be kind whenever possible. This includes not making fun of anyone, giggling, or whispering behind someone’s back. Consciously putting an end to such little behaviors can completely change people’s perspective on one’s character. Hopefully this matters to your teen. When you have this conversation with your teen, you may get the argument that how someone judges them is no one’s business. Being kind is more important than that small-minded thinking.
- Show respect to every customer at your job. Ask your teen to think of a time when he/she went to pay for something and was treated poorly/treated less than. Your teen has the choice in that job to treat someone (even the idiot) with respect and show kindness anyway or take the given responsibility to make that customer feel even smaller in life.
- Ask permission to do things. Self-autonomy is a part of adolescent development. You are growing your teen to “leave your nest as a functioning adult.” Ask your teen to show you the courtesy of asking for permission as this teaches that your teen’s decisions always affects others. You also then have the opportunity to teach respect and decision-making. Say yes whenever you can (you know when you can’t) in respect for being asked.
- Slang is fun to use with friends but other than that, there is not another situation that is appropriate to talk in slang. Or to cuss. You may need to help define what slanguage your teen uses commonly since he/she may think differently. A parent in my church has threatened her teen boy that the next time he calls her “bruh” she’s taking him to the bra section of a department store. This has been effective. Bonus: Be careful of the slang you use in front of your teen. You may be sending a mixed message.
- Shake hands when meeting someone new. Shake hands with a good grip and look that person in the eye.
- Write thank you notes. This one feels Emily-Post-old-tymey but it teaches gratitude. It also teaches how to write a kind note to someone. A two-fer! Worth the eye-rolls to teach this one because the receiver of a thank you note is filled with respect for a teenager.