How to Be a Dad

How to Be a Dad

Manners that Don’t Suck

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Manners that Don't Suck

I’m going to sound like a pissed off old man. And I’m good with that. Bad manners are rampant. The way I see things going, manners these days are like harsh meanness and disinterested oblivion had a baby, and then that baby was handed a case of Red Bull and a shotgun.

A##hole Park JobHey, look! Our names start with the same letter! Ahhhh, automotive bad manners. Don’t worry, the guy gave himself 4 ft. on his driver’s side, so he’s all good. And that’s all that matters, right?
We just placed a helpful, related product in our store. See it for yourself. You’re welcome.

Everything from little pissy looks, all the way up to murderous road rage. It even seems like well-mannered people have gotten so accustomed to these Dark Ages of manners that when I hold a door open for them, they’ll steady it themselves as if I’m an optical illusion or some psycho who’ll let the door nail them at the last second. Sad.

Manners aren’t just about not being Captain A##hole to the rest of humanity, or sticking your pinky out like in a Jane Austin film production, they’re also about kindness and consideration. Helping, tolerance, laughing it all off, and sacrificing for the sake of others. When I look at some kids today, the future… I want to look away.

Manners are for OTHERS. So they don’t kill you.

One day, years ago, I realized that the boys were being taught manners, like so many things, without anyone having told them why. So I started out by asking Max and Cody, “If you were stranded on a desert island and you could only eat one thing, what flavor of PEZ would it be?” This was just to get their attention. Attention is an illlusive and whiley beast when it lives within a child under the age of 10.

Now that I had my audience, I asked them if you could have good manners if you were completely alone on a desert island. They paused, sensing a trick question, and said, “Yeeeeesss?” I made a game show FAIL buzzer sound and went on to explain to them that you couldn’t, that manners were for other people, and from them for you, that different groups had different sets of them, but that generally they were basically the behavior we agree on to make getting along with each other pleasant and easy… or to simply keep us from clawing each other’s eyes out. By then the boys were sound asleep. Maybe my lectures are better than any sedative with a bedtime story chaser, but then again maybe it had its positive effect. The boys have really good manners… most of the time.

When the boys got older, I went on further to explain that when manners get reeeeeeeally bad, the law takes over. And there’s no PEZ in prison. Not sure if that tidbit helped.

Toddler Manners

Yeah. I just wrote those two words together. Seems kind of weird and unlikely a word combination, right? Like “evil unicorn” or “skinny sumo wrestler.” But actually it’s exactly where I figure manners need to start, and Lucas is catching on fast. With some odd kinks though. Let’s take a look at an actual conversation:

Sharing Is CaringSharing some milk with a little doggie is good manners, too. Lucas, you’re doing it right.

Me: “Let’s get going, lad. Your mama’s waiting.”

Lucas: “No, thank you.”

Me: “Uh, okaaaay… Yes, please?”

Lucas: “No, thank you!”

Me: “Yes, please!”

Lucas: “NO THANK YOU!”

Me: Yeeeeessss PLEASE!”

Lucas: “NO! THANK! YOU!!!”

I’m not sure what kind of message my bursting out laughing sends, but he’s turning out okay. When we thank him, we’ll nudge with, “say ‘you’re welcome'” and he’ll say “I welcome.” Cute! We seem to do pretty well with leading by example and keeping a cast iron lid on my sailor mouth.

It’s an uphill battle in this world, but they’re all on their way to being gentlemen. Okay. Mostly gentlemen. Gentlemen-ish at least. Whatever! At least they’re not f##king douchebags!


Instructional Diagrams These pictures are worth more than a thousand words.

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70 Responses to “Manners that Don’t Suck”

  1. SDADD says:

    Right On! It’s a tragedy the way kids today are brought up with NO manners. I’m glad not everyone has the same “push’em out and leave’em alone” philosophy. You nailed it right on the head to when you said you lead by example. That’s where it starts.

    • andy says:

      Yeah, the “keep them alive and let them do whatever they want” seems about as successful as it would be to take a group of kids in a school and say “do whatever you want so long as you stay in the classroom.” Who would send their kid to that school?

  2. Monica says:

    I love this post. It is great. People have lost manners and they fail to establish any manners with their children. Yes, your kids don’t have it down pat yet, but they are learning and that is a LOT more than most. Manners should start with toddlers so they don’t become a**holes when they are older. My son is 10 1/2 months, but I hope to teach him to become a gentleman or gentleman-ish. =) Someone once asked me if my dad was in the military. When I answered yes, I asked how they would know that. They said it’s because I say Yes, Sir and Yes, Ma’am. I may not be in the military, but my son will have good manners if it kills me. Where have all the manners gone??????

  3. Shannonannon says:

    When I am parking and forced to BE the A-Hole car I always park where my door is too close. I know that I can control how I get in and out and be careful with my doors and I can hope that “Andy” doesn’t have a passenger that will be inconvenienced. If I park like your A-Hole neighbor I know that they are going to bang my car intentionally or otherwise. Does that constitute good manners?

    • charlie says:

      Wait, so the options are you park like an idiot or I smash your car? I just want to make sure I have my choices straight.

      FYI: You’re never FORCED to park like an asshole. That’s your choice.

      Also, if you want, just buy one of our bumper stickers. That should alert everyone.

      • andy says:

        Good answer, Charlie. I did climb through the passenger seat to get away from the A##hole tailgate party the guy was late for, but HE HAD FOUR FEET TO HIS LEFT!!!

      • Shannonannon says:

        Hey now boys. No need to use bad manners. Maybe I wasn’t clear.

        The “Choice” I laid out was a) park like an idiot and someone will probably screw with your car or karma will get you at some future date; or b) do your best to share space, not park like an idiot and hopefully the world will be a better place for your consideration.

        I choose b. I don’t park like an asshole. I find myself, on occasion, in a parking situation that is difficult or less than ideal. When that happens I try to do my best to be courteous to the vehicle I know was driven there by a person, allowing them space rather than myself or the theoretical passenger from the other side.

        Maybe you read my comment too quickly. Ouch. Be nice.

        • andy says:

          Sorry, it’s a ranty sort of post and comment festival of venting. I don’t think you’re an asshole parker. I think its evident to others when a circumstance is the reason for a tough situation and a bad park job. I even gave this guy the benefit of the doubt for a sec and thought “maybe this guy was squeezed in by someone on his left…” but then I remembered I’d been away from my car for 3 minutes. This guys needs a bumper sticker.

  4. Teressa says:

    I did one better than a “like”…I shared. Good manner, huh? Thx rad dad. Keep up the great parenting.

  5. Aging Gal says:

    I HATE the whole “close car” issue. And in car-crazed L.A. it is prevalent. Mr. A-HOLE is definitely getting a door ding from me (and maybe a lot of dusty sneaker prints all over his side door; like a human-sized kitty cat). Good for you to be the “Manners” dad, Andy. I will gladly let them hold a door open for me and I won’t at all suspect them of psychosis.

    • andy says:

      Don’t get me wrong, I WANTED to urinate on the guys windshield. But its all about choices, and I choose to put on a happy face, laugh and the dork, drive away and blog about it.

      I’ll give you an extra big smile in return when holding the metaphorical door open for you. πŸ˜€

  6. Chris says:

    That’s one of the worst things about parking lots. People parking too close, crooked or even over the line. I might slap one of these babies on the next car I see committing once of these offenses. BTW, nice work on raising your kid to have manners. This world’s lousy with jerks.

    • andy says:

      We can’t control what people do with the bumper sticker we created (or be held legal liable for it either). That said… GO FOR IT!

      Jerks happen to also be dumb, so they need signs and big blinking arrows pointing the way for them to Non-a##holelandia. It’s our duty to clean up their parents’ neglectful mess.

      P.S. Rad use of the phrase “lousy with.” Kudos.

  7. Chris says:

    *one of these BUMPER STICKERS

  8. Stephanie K. says:

    So happy to see other parents are teaching manners! They really have disappeared! When I was pregnant with my second I was walkig into work with my 1 year old, her diaper bag, my purse and a box of donuts (for my lovely co-workers lol). I’m struggling to open the door while balancing all of the above and this man walks over and opens the door wide open. I start to go through and before the words “thank you” can escape my lips, he not only rushes but PUSHES past me!!! I nearly topple over and somehow managed not to drop the donuts!! Needless to say I yelled out, “Are you F*****G KIDDING ME!?!?” baby in my arms or not, don’t piss me off when I’m pregnant. Words will come out that I’m not proud of.

  9. Stephanie K. says:

    Oh and I think toddler is the perfect age to start manners. I started my daughter around 13-14 months and she now knows to say “MEEZ!” and “CHEEN CHOO!” when she wants something πŸ™‚

  10. Elizabeth says:

    Great Post!! I really wish the parents today would put this at the top of their list, with the potty training!!

    The other day my daughter and I were having some tea, and while we were sitting out there, there was a group of middle schoolers eating at Chipotle. They were LOUD, and using very bad language. A man walks by with his dog, ties him up, looks at up at them, and as loudly as possible yells “SHUT UP, CAN’T YOU SEE OTHERS ARE TRYING TO ENJOY THE AFTERNOON OUT HERE!!!”
    They stopped for an instant, then one boy piped up and said, “Calm the f@*k down. The man walked over to him and gave him what for. I think the kid regretted it, because he had a look on his face, as if saying OH S@**t!!
    They continued being a bit loud, then left all their garbage behind on all the tables!
    It is in that moment that I looked at my daughter and said, ” If that is the future, I’m really scared!”

    Oh, and that picture you have up there with the car….It happened to me, when I had my hip operated on and was at physical therapy. I couldn’t get in my car, and the A** Hole parked in a 10 min spot. Someone helped me look for the person, for 20 min, and she finally had to crawl into my car, to back it out, so I could get in. The lady who helped me was at least 60+.

    It is getting BAD, and it makes me very sad. I have two friends that have taught there kids manners, and I hope they are the new trend.

    • andy says:

      It’s disgusting. Good job on that man with the dog. There’s a point where railing against bad manners is not bad manners in and of itself. Some people, with some weak-minded or timid view might have themselves convinced that it would have been bad manners in turn for the man to have shouted like that. But this mentality seems so similar (on a smaller scale) to the mentality of someone walking away from the sound of a woman screaming “someone is raping me.”

      The good guys have to save keep saving the day or the future will be a nightmare.

  11. Judy says:

    How many times can I yell “I agree, I agree, I agree….” before I become obnoxious? My granddaughter was visiting me on Saturday and a rude little monster from the neighborhood came into my yard, vaulted himself onto the porch, grabbed the frisbee and ordered my 5-year-old granddaughter “Hey! You get over there so I can throw this to you.” I said “Son – how about “asking” nicely? He looked at me as if I had 2 heads, threw the frisbee down on the ground and walked off mumbling. My granddaughter looked at me and said “Nina, he was rude”. Bless her heart – she can actually identify the behavior as wrong. I had to bite my tongue about giving him a little return dose of rudeness, but that would be setting a bad example. All I can say is God help us when his generation is running this country. I think the thing that annoys me worse than anything else about today’s teenagers is when you say “thank you” to one of them and they look at you cross eyed and say “no problem”. What do you mean, no problem? Did you anticipate a problem? Did you see me as creating a potential problem for you? I am thanking you for what you just did (i.e. check me out at the grocery store) – the proper response is “You’re welcome!”. Even my 2, 4 and 5 year old grandkids know that much! Okay, climbing down off the soapbox now. Thanks for letting me vent…. πŸ˜‰ LOL!

  12. Krystal says:

    I can not like this post enough.. I WAS working on a similar post, but I’ll go ahead and delete that and refer the jerk parents of the world here. Teaching manners to children is a dying practice and it absolutely horrifies me. At 2 years old, Marley says ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ to 98% of things, you know, when she’s not trying to assert her independence (ha), but i digress. Good for you for not only teaching your children manners, but for teaching them WHY manners are important.

    • andy says:

      You are most welcome! And I’m trying keeping PEZ alive too. Kids these days just don’t seem to know the wonders of PEZ and their dispensers. Keep being rad!

  13. Kimberly says:

    The “I welcome!” thing is one of my favorite toddler responses. Good for you for teaching your kids why manners are important! It makes the likelihood of them growing up to be kind adults much higher.

    My 2.5-year-old loves pretending to be Miss Manners. She sneezed from the backseat yesterday, and when I didn’t react she told me, “Bless me, Mommy.” Haha.

  14. dadand:Pete says:

    For even more fun, check out my buddy’s site He’s got downloadable tickets and notices. Pretty funny.

  15. d says:

    I love those notices on!

    Also, there are a few stores like UO which sell booklets of SUPER funny things to put under someones windshield wipers. Andy, I think you would really like them. HA HA HA!!! Great post, though.

  16. Phil says:

    I have been reduced to expecting one tiny thing out of people in cars besides “not flying off the handle when someone makes a tiny driving error.”

    I just want one teeny tiny “thank you” wave when I let you in front of me. That’s it. That’s all. Nothing more.

    • andy says:

      YES!!! Agreed! On the flip side of that, when someone is a rockstar and let’s me in or, when I seem to need it, steps down off the Self-Assumed Universal Right-Of-Way Pedestal of Utter Domination, I flail my arm in thanks, flash my brakes in a light-show of appreciation and roll the window down for a fully erect thumbs-up!

  17. MotherDuck says:

    Right on, my brotha!

    I have a sudden crazy craving for PEZ…and grape soda.

    • andy says:

      Blam! I just want to flip the head on one of those bad boys now. I never really liked PEZ much to eat but it seemed like treasure somehow. Treasure issued out of the neck of my favorite comic hero or cartoon character!!! Always seemed to get my finger pinched messing around with the spring-loaded clip though…

      Maybe I should just go with grape soda. Safer.

  18. Lisa says:

    Love it. What’s even better is when you park in the middle of your spot and come back and the a-hole has parked OVER THE LINE into your spot and doesn’t leave you a shoe horn to get into your car. Because walking 3 extra parking spaces to the store is just not acceptable, I guess?

    • andy says:

      Ugh. Totally! In fact I make it a point to just park where it’s best, not closest. I want to get out of the cattle line of people mooing for parking spots so I’m not contributing to the clog, and I want to park next to a car that isn’t a beat up P.O.S. to reduce the chance that the drivers next to me don’t smash up my car because theirs is already half-way to Hell.

  19. Christina says:

    Ugh. This post reminds me of MY bad manners today. Granted, toddler temper-tantrums all day + severe exhaustion from someone not sleeping through a time change + pregnancy really had me wanting to claw the eyes out of the guy who was honking at me to make a right turn into oncoming traffic…

    But my bad manners aside, I’ve been teaching my son please & thank you since he learned how to sign “more”. I’m still surprised when he says thank you without prompting, but so far, so good =)

    • andy says:

      We forgive you. Don’t sweat it. The guy who was honking at you would probably have driven himself off a cliff if he was experiencing what you are with a little one. You get “Get Out of Jail Free” cards when you become a mom. πŸ˜‰

  20. Jaime says:

    awesome and SO true…. kids seem to be more devoid of manners these days. I see it every day on the train.

  21. Cici says:

    I like how my 7 year-old daughter handles a-holes…when a man walks in a restaurant or building with his ball cap on or doesn’t hold the door for her/us, or burps or gets in/out of his car instead of waiting for women to enter/exit theirs, she simply states, “his mother never taught him manners, how sad.” It is usually loud enough for him to hear…what’s he going to do? Be so ill-mannered to punch a 7yo girl? πŸ™‚ Watch your manners boys, there are still mommies out there raising their little girls to care!

    • andy says:

      That’s fantastic, but I’m an a-hole who doesn’t take his hat off when entering a building or restaurant. I’m not very strong on the manners that are more tradition-based, but tend to be good about the time-less, kindness-based ones. I’ll help some carry something to their car, give directions, get the door, say “hey” in response, but I don’t stand up when a woman leaves the table, or keep my elbows off the table at all times.

  22. Katie says:

    When I was pregnant with our first son, one of my friends told me I was meant to have boys so there would be fewer assholeish ones in the world. My husband and I are working on living up to that pronouncement. But I’m gonna have to steal your line about manners on a desert island.

  23. Surfer Jay says:

    That is precisely why i always take up two spots when I park. Works great.

    • andy says:

      Hah! That’s like preemptive measures. But if the lot is choked, unfortunately, you come off as Capt. A-hole to everyone else looking for a spot. From the looks at how many websites there are dedicated to it, you might find a freshly plastered bumper sticker when you return to your car. Just sayin’ πŸ˜‰

  24. Eric says:

    You are so correct about leading by example. My wife & I have an 18 month old daughter and while she is talking up a storm now we were surprised that two of the first phrases she learned to say was “Thank You” and “You’re Welcome”. We did not intentionally teach her to say these phrases initially, but our best guess is that she learned them by watching how my wife and I treat each other and other people.

  25. True story: today I came out of the grocery store and found that someone wiped their car on mine as they got out of the parking space next to me. I searched in vain, in effing VAIN for some note apologizing for the big white shmear scratch on my car.

    Le detail qui tue: The store had only been open for like 20 minutes but of course all of us 10 cars were parked like sardines next to the door, next to the otherwise empty lot…….

    Sigh. I would have at least written “sorry”.

    • andy says:

      That’s awful. That goes beyond bad manners into criminality. I guess we should all just be glad in today’s day and age that he didn’t write “sorry” using a key and your car. πŸ™

  26. Flavia says:

    Talking about a disagreement with a toddler, check out this video. Epic.

  27. Megan says:

    My husband is the middle child of 3 boys. The youngest, Mike, went through a spell of thinking that every time someone says “Thank you Mike” he HAD to say “You’re welcome”. So the older 2 boys would say over and over again “Thank you Mike” and little Mike would get so frustrated but keep answering “You’re welcome!”

  28. Caitlyn says:

    First off, props to you for teaching your kids manners! My son just turned 3 and knows and uses the full range of manners: Please, Thank You, Excuse Me, Bless You, You’re Welcome, etc. because I REFUSE to have a rude child. So props to you and all of those who have commented who are keeping manners alive.

    And second, we got our son his first Pez for Christmas…I have never seen a look of such joy and utter amazement from him. Priceless.

  29. Melanie says:

    I don’t force my daughter to say please or thank you, but I do model the behavior that I expect to see from her and there are always consequences to her actions. She is two and I have yet to not hear her say thank you when I give her something or do something for her. She has a harder time with remembering to ask with please but I ask her “How can you ask politely for that?” and she’ll light up and say “PWWEEAAASSSE!” I have super rage at bad parkers though. It takes everything I have not to throw shit on their cars.

    • Andy says:

      You are rad for how you’re nurturing. And for your shit-throwing urges towards horrifically inconsiderate parkers. ::high five::

  30. Great post! Manners are so important, and some people definitely skipped out on that lesson.

    This weekend at a picnic, my 5 year old daughter came up to me as I was talking with another adult. She said ‘excuse me, mom’ and then waited while I finished what I was saying and acknowledged her. Yes, you can have a juice box, thanks for asking. And she was off. The other parent was shocked at the entire exchange. ‘So adorable, how did you teach her to say excuse me?’ Well…if you have to ask, that’s probably part of the problem.

    • Andy says:

      Agreed. We are the most blind about our own shortcomings sometimes. You might not have realized it but that exchange, you and your daughter, gave them a better set of eyes about their parenting. One can only hope.

  31. Clare Hewitt says:

    Makes me laugh at loud!!! I tell my (almost) 2 year old…’you don’t have to scream when you don’t want something, you can just say “no thank you” in a nice voice’ so now she says ‘no thank you’ to everything! ‘Come on Flump, bath time’ ‘no thank you’. And if you push the point she just gets louder…’no thank you. No Thank you. NO THANK YOU’
    I’m not sure she gets the concept yet…

    • Andy says:

      That’s adorable. Bask in it. Heck! Get a soul tan from it. Not to worry, the appropriate context of it will come. Remember, the karate kid waxed a crap ton of cars before he even knew he was prepping to lay down a mean crane kick. πŸ˜‰ (My apologies if you’re not familiar with the movie and have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about.)

  32. Must resist urge to purchase a supply of those bumper stickers and place them on other people’s cars…..Must. Resist. Urge.

  33. Myshal says:

    Sooooooo with you on this one. My hubby and I are constantly marveling at the lack of concern younger generations show for others in general. It’s terrifying – these are our future (and, in some cases, current) leaders?!
    I’ve always taught and expected good manners from my boys. With three close in age, two of which are in middle school now, I’m often at wits’ end with them. Those same manners save them from a load of trouble! There’s nothing like having to wait for 15 minutes after I’ve taken them to a movie at the theater, because they have decided to hold the door for every last person exiting. πŸ™‚ In those moments, I can almost forget the two hours spent shushing them in the theater while they argue over the popcorn!
    It’s great to see someone encouraging good manners. Keep up the good work! πŸ™‚

    • Andy says:

      You keep up the good work, too! I have regular doubts about the good work I’m doing, but if I feel like I can share the better part, the part I feel needs to survive, to be voiced, then I’m pleased.

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