I always tell my boys to hold doors for everyone, especially adults. I have never really told them “ladies first,” although I am not necessarily opposed to that. I just think that it is polite to hold doors and allow someone to go ahead of you, instead of just pushing through. — Abbe Rousso
Teach sons and daughters, and even yourself and your spouse, to be considerate. That means taking a split-second to look at your surroundings and situation and make a good judgment call. Don’t ever let a door slam in someone’s face. But also don’t wait forever unless they absolutely need it. — Mary Ellen Smolinski
Teach your children the manners you deem appropriate and relevant. “Please” and “thank you” are a good place to start. Take time to teach manners. There is nothing more unpleasant than a rude, demanding child. — Dawn Lantero
Growing up in a family with both boys and girls, “ladies first” was never a big deal, but those younger and older were given special consideration. We were expected to be considerate as well to those with special needs, such as someone expecting a child or in a wheelchair. I will never forget riding the bus with my mother and having her insist we give up our seats for a very pregnant woman as well as a young man in uniform with a crutch. — Marie Grass Amenta
“Others first,” is what Mary O’Donohue teaches her son, 14, and daughter, 9.
“We teach them that every encounter we have with another person is an opportunity to be respectful to another human being,” says O’Donohue, author of “When You Say ‘Thank You,’ Mean It” (Adams Media). “We teach it for all people — adults, classmates, peers.”
O’Donohue runs manners drills at home, during which she devotes a day to a specific behavior she wants her kids to learn.
“I do think it’s important to teach children how to treat others,” she says. “To teach them how to respect other people, but also that they deserve to be respected.”
A recent drill focused on holding the door for others — O’Donohue holding the door while her children entered the house and, in turn, her children holding the door as she entered.
“It’s just the most easy and natural way to be respectful: ‘Oh, you go first,’” says O’Donohue. “It makes children feel powerful, and it’s not something they have to wait until they’re grown-ups to do.”
To further illustrate her point, she followed up with an exercise in which she allowed the door to slam behind her.
“My daughter said, ‘Mom! What did you just do?’ and I said, ‘How did you just feel?’ and she said, ‘You just closed the door on me!’” O’Donohue recalls. “Then I asked her, ‘Did you feel good?’ The great thing about that structure is when a child is on the receiving end of a disrespecting act, a light bulb goes on: ‘Oh, that’s how my sister felt when I walked in and didn’t hold the door while she was carrying a big bag of groceries.’
“And they learn, when somebody does something disrespectful, to stand up for themselves.”
A worthy lesson for both genders.
“I think you do certainly want your sons to be respectful of women and girls,” she says. “But I also don’t want to give my son or daughter the impression that women or girls are weaker or need doors held for them. I don’t know if that notion even occurs to this generation, but we just teach across the board: Put others first.”
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