Many years ago, as a young'un, my siblings and I were taught by our parents to respect other kids and their parents. By and large all young'uns living in and around our small Mississippi hometown were also taught the same manners and respectfulness by their parents.
Yep, that's right, I was born and raised in the Deep South - Waynesboro
as a matter of fact, why else would I use the southern term of young'un?
Young'un, some spell it yungin, but either way it means a young one or a young child. But that's beside the point, The point is that our parents and the parents of others demanded respect and good manners form all their young'uns.
I remember being taught that if the adults were not relatives, you address them as Mr., or Mrs., or Miss, or Mam, or Sir. If they were relatives, then we greeted them the way they asked to be greeted - and usually that included all the terms of respect just mentioned except they might ask, for example, to be called Uncle Billy Bob or Aunt Mary Ann.
All these years later I still find myself using these terms of respect, even if the adult stranger is many years younger than I am. And I have to tell you, I find it very refreshing when I hear it from another, whether its from an adult or a young'un.
Raleigh has been a recipient of an abundance of rain in the past few days, something that we have been existing without most all the summer. Today, while reclining in my lazy chair, relaxing and absorbing the sound and smell of rain, I began to reflect and drift back in time until I reached the age of five again. Images of my mother came to mind and I could hear her voice.
"Michael, come here this minute." She demanded in a stern voice.
Now I knew I must have committed a household crime since she normally calls me Mike. She uses Michael to get my immediate attention. And she gets it too!
Now what could be wrong? I had been watching the TV man from Western Auto do his work. I had been asking him umpteen questions and giving him pointers on how to install the antenna correctly. He had just left after completing the delivery and installation of our first television, a Philco black & White. I was so excited I could hardly remember my own name.
"Michael, come here this minute or I will give you a whipping so hard you won't be able to sit down for a week." Mother threatened.
I had never gotten a whipping that hard before but I was not taking any chances so off to the kitchen I scampered.
"What's the matter? What did I do?" I asked as I stood looking up into her eyes. Ha, I could tell she wasn't really mad at me but was in her teaching mode.
"It's not what you did, Mike," She answered "It's what you didn't do"
My, my, my, how many times had I heard this double-talk in my few young years? Why can't she just speak kid-talk so I could understand? I decided then and there that I would tell her once-and-for-all to speak more clearly.
"Mom, What didn't I do"? I asked, cowering down.
Mother's face softens and she smiled as she bends down to take me in her arms. She hugs me slightly asking, "Mike, How many times have I told you to use polite and respectful words like "please", "thank you", "yes-sir" and "no-sir" when talking to adults?
Now folks, I knew the count was somewhere in the neighborhood of one hundred million but I answered sheepishly with upturned palms, " I dunnoooo."
"You got so excited about the new television, you forgot your manners while talking to the man. This will be the last time I have to remind you, right?" She asked.
I left that question unanswered and scampered off to see how long it would take before I could break something on the new TV.
We lost Mother as a result of bone cancer about thirteen years later, but in that short period of time she, and my daddy, managed to teach me how to be polite and respectful to other people.
I remember overhearing mother speaking to her younger sister, my Aunt Bea, that teaching her children to be polite and respectful makes her job of raising them much easier. I didn't understand her meaning then but I understand it now.
We all should know that it is the parent's job to teach their children good manners. It is not the responsibility of the school although the school and community also play a role. If our young'uns are polite and respectful to us as their parents, then it is likely they will grow up to be the same to their school teachers and later their employers and everyone else in their life that holds a position of authority.
Our children are not our peers. We are the Mom and Dad, Grandma and Grandpa. It is up to us, me and you, to set them on the path that will benefit them the most. I believe many parents have drifted away from teaching good manners and it must be brought back.
If you were not taught when you were young then it is time to learn it. It is not too late.
If you don't know how to teach respect and manners, then apply the Golden Rule principle. It works every time on all young'uns!
"Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets." Matthew 7:12
"And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise." Luke 6:31