It’s time to concentrate on good manners!

I have a request from Mrs. Steger’s class in Fredonia (I think they’re in fifth grade) to write a column on manners. Isn’t it great that they are interested in good manners? The good news is that good manners never go out of style and they apply to all age groups. This column is for everyone; it should be cut out and saved to pass it on.

Now when we think of good manners we think about saying “please” and “thank you.” We say “please” when we want something, like “Please pass the bread” and we say thank you after we get it. We also think of opening doors for people as a courtesy. But there is so much more to good manners. It’s making a good image and a reputation that will serve you for your whole life. Let’s look at all the good habits we can develop.

Show appreciation by saying things like “You did a good job” or “thank you for sharing with me.” Do you share what you have with others or do you just grab what others have? The first is good manners and the other is bad manners. You have a choice.

Here are some good manners you can develop. Greet people with “Good Morning” or “Good afternoon” or “Good evening” and say “Goodbye” when someone leaves. If you have to pass in front of someone, say “Excuse me.” Be sure you don’t push people or push in front of them.

Here are a couple of things I do when I shop at Aldi. I always give my cart away and refuse the quarter. I say “Praise the Lord and pass it on.” Then when I’m in the checkout line, I see people with only a few items and I let them go ahead of me. It’s so nice to put a smile on someone’s face!

Have you ever thought that using bad language is poor manners? I hate to hear swearing. We have to know what bad manners are as well as good. Let’s take a look. Do you ever push to get ahead of someone? Do you borrow things and forget to give them back, or give them back damaged? Try to do better. Do you hold grudges? Do you talk with your mouth full or chew with your mouth open? Do you make fun of people? Do you talk on your cell phone when you are in public places? Do you embarrass your friends and family with your rude behavior? Are you a loud-mouth? All of these things are bad manners, and will give you a bad reputation. You don’t want that!

Let’s talk about respect. You have to learn to respect yourself and others. How do we do that? Let’s say you’re a male and you’re going to a job interview, and you have long hair and you know the boss won’t tolerate long hair. What are you going to do? Well that depends on how badly you want the job. You have a choice.

We also show respect for ourselves and others in the way we dress. Would you go to that job in jeans or in torn or dirty clothes? Would you go with messy hair or dirty fingernails? Cleanliness is part of good manners.

Now I have a word for the girls. The way you dress is a statement about you. Dress for the occasion and be appropriate. You dress one way to go to a play, another way to go to church, and another way to go to a classy dinner party. You shouldn’t wear the same make-up in the day as you do for evening events. Just remember: don’t overdo it. If you feel unsure, remember that less is better than too much.

Now I know that short clothes are stylish right now, especially for some age groups. But can you cross your legs without your undergarments showing? You can’t dress provocatively and then slap a person for staring at your body or making a wisecrack. Respect yourself by covering up and others will respect you, too. Also, the weather is getting colder; maybe you’ll start to dress more appropriately because you’re cold.

We can continue our discussion of respect by showing respect for other people’s property. Form the habit of taking care of things, not destroying them.

Now I’ll say a couple of personal things. Don’t burp without excusing yourself and be sure to excuse yourself if you pass gas. I’m telling you this because I don’t know if your parents are teaching you these manners, or if you even have parents.

When I was growing up, we were taught manners by our parents. I remember we were having a party at our house and one of the guests said “Do you say please and thank you to your family? I don’t.” Are we supposed to save our good manners for strangers, or for only people of authority? I don’t think so!

If we summed it all up, good manners are everything that make others love and respect you and what makes you love and respect yourself. It pays off. Demonstrating good manners is very rewarding. It’s a two-way street with all positive results.

If you want to refer to the Bible you’ll find the answer in I Corinthians Chapter 13, verses 4-13. Listen to this: “Love is kind, is not envious, proud, or selfish, it controls anger, thinks kindly of others, loves truth, thinks positively.”

This is a wonderful chapter for all people. The way has been mapped out. All we have to do is follow it. Don’t forget – we all have a choice. Be smart. Have a great life!