Common courtesy is an ox and a moron

This weekend, the Clark family was on display. We were the only family in the HUGE restaurant with more than 4 children at their table. We were the only family at my brother in law’s memorial that had more than 3 children and we were the only family at church on Sunday that had more than 2 children. We were more of an oddity than normal. πŸ˜‰ If only someone would have paid me for every time we heard, “You have 7(!!) children?! Are you …………(insert word of choice here, adding expletives if you’re assuming it was spoken to us at the memorial.) ???”

The only thing I heard more than shock and dismay at the number of our prodigies πŸ˜‰ was comments of surprise that our children a) weren’t fighting (IN PUBLIC?!!!) and b) were friendly and polite.

At the restaurant, the couple next to us were discussing, loud enough for me to hear them, at any rate, their disgust for the size of our family. (May I pause and say how much this baffles me? I MUST assume that the only reason for their personal disgust was the thought/assumption that we would be submitting our dinner bill to them, expecting they would pay for it. Happily, I will say we did not do that, so I’m certain their disgust abated as soon as our bill was paid.) Shortly after they were discussing us, my youngest perambulating child was coming back from the bathroom – she spotted the scarf of the woman at the table, lying on the floor, in the general walkway. Quietly and with a huge smile, she picked it up, handed it to her and said, “Oh ma’am, your scarf is on the floor, I’m afraid it will get stepped on.” (So there ya grump! Heaping coals of kindness on your head.) πŸ˜‰ The woman said nothing.

At the memorial, my 8 yr old (soon to be 9) took it upon herself to keep extra memory cards and deliver them, along with a smile and handshake, to each person who entered the banquet room after the service started. She did it quietly, she did it without being asked and she did it warmly.

Sunday morning was the absolute “blow me down” moment – as the older girls (17, 12, 10) were coming back from the restroom before service, they were talking amongst themselves (quietly) and a man stopped them. He said, “You must be the Clark children.” My oldest responded with, “Yes sir, we are.” and stuck her hand out to shake his and they introduced themselves. He just looked at them with an odd expression and said, “I thought so. We don’t have any children in our church that are this friendly and nice.” Thinking he must be attempting to flatter them, my #2 daughter laughed gently and said, “Oh, I bet they are.” He looked at her and said in all seriousness, “No, they aren’t. We don’t have children that can introduce themselves with such confidence and kindness.”

What is wrong with all these pictures?! Why is shock so rampant amongst people when well behaved children are out in public? I am consistently amazed at the comments we receive while in public. “Oh I bet living at your house is ……..(fill in with something akin to having toothpicks driven under your fingernails.)” or “You couldn’t pay me to have THAT many children!” Why do people assume that disrespect, unkindness and rudeness are the norm for families with many children? (Perhaps it’s not just large families that hear this??! Perhaps it’s really just the expectation for families, in general?)

I do not understand how or why common courtesy – at least it’s pretty common at our house and I’m assuming at yours as well – is so uncommon. I do not understand why people are in shock when my children speak kindly to one another. (We have a neighbor who, during a garage sale, was upbraided for referring to my daughters as sisters. “Sisters aren’t that nice to one another, and they don’t call each other ‘honey’ so you can’t be right.”)

I do not understand why parents wouldn’t WANT to teach their children to be courteous in their own homes. Who wants to have a child whine to get what they want? Who wants to have children who can’t speak kindly to one another? Who wants to have children who are demanding and expect things to flow around THEIR desires? I know of no mother who wants that! Certainly no stay at home Mom!! So what am I missing in this equation? Has courtesy simply become passe’? Am I raising up fusty children?!! (Quite possible, and I’m just not certain that’s a real problem.) πŸ™‚

Well, thank you for reading. I’m so glad you came today. I hope you will come again and do be careful – that first step out of here into the ethernet….it’s a BIG one. Oh, and here’s your scarf. πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜€

(Edit: I am certain this is a given, but you all KNOW we have times of dishonoring speech, right?!Β  Especially the maternal unit of the family, right??!!!Β  πŸ™‚Β Β  AND you all also know I consider it to be evidence of grace in my life when we are kind to one another, right??!!!Β  I’m just trying to figure out why rudeness is now the seeming norm…)

21 Responses to “Common courtesy is an ox and a moron”
  1. Margie says:

    First of all I must ask, what is your secret? My girls (and there are only two of them) are constantly bickering at home. We are working on that, praying for guidance and direction.

    I too, receive comments about the wonderful behavior of my blessings (so, I guess in public they display admirable character). It is just so amazing to me that kind, respectful, and courteous behavior is not expected in today’s world.

    Kudos to you, Dawn for the hard work it takes to raise your children in the way that they should go.


  2. winkies6 says:

    Ok, I don’t want my children to be rude. Soooo, when can I send them over?

  3. javadawn says:

    Margie, why?! WHY is it that courteous behavior is so abnormal?! That is what I can’t get. When I look at it with logic, alone, there isn’t a mom I know who wants their children to be dishonoring with their speech. Not one. So, I can’t see how it’s coming from our homes…is it the effect of TV? I really am trying to grasp this.

    My secret?!!! (gulp) Grace is the first thought that comes to mind. Secondly, we are quick to address dishonoring speech. Q.U.I.C.K. We also expect them to speak honoringly. We’re already working on teaching Booger to say “please” and “thank you” – she’s 13 mo old. I don’t expect her to say them yet, of course, but I want them to be second nature to her when she does start speaking. Third, wow, I’d have to say Grace. Fourth, I think seeing their parents blow it so often and have to come seek their forgiveness helps. (If this is true, my kids have a WEALTH of good examples!) πŸ™„
    Margie, my dear, while I appreciate the kudos….I fear too often, my children are bearing fruit that I have not adequately sown, which leads me back to the initial answer: Grace. Grace, grace and more grace. I depend on it when it comes to parenting!!

  4. javadawn says:

    Alright now, w6….I know better. πŸ™‚

    You guys are scaring me – PLEASE PLEASE do not think that I am exalting us for exemplary behavior!!
    Really, my desire is to get a grasp on why it’s so widely accepted – and expected- that children are to be rude. (AND maybe, it’s not children, maybe it’s PEOPLE in general?)

  5. Tiffany says:

    seriously, you do a summer internship program?? Your children are very thoughtful and polite.

    as to the other, I’m as baffled as you. the thought of talking loud enough for someone else to hear about their family size or not saying thank you when your scarf was picked up? It seems so strange to me, completely foreign.

    Very sad that common curtesy isn’t so common

  6. Tiffany says:

    Dawn, we posted at the same time….we do please and thank you early too. Baby signs actually, and Ana’el picked up on them rather fast. I loved it! Still haveto remind her a lot, especially with thank you, but it is still neat to see her starting to grasp the concepts.

  7. I think really horrible behavior is almost expected of kids these days. It’s as if parents (in general) have spent so long complaining about how awful their children are that the public at large has learned to expect it. I think the majority of my generation was raised with little or no parenting skills whatsoever because all the little girls were supposed to grow up to be lawyers, not mommys, and pay nannies and teachers to raise their children (by the way, who was raising the nannies and teachers?). So now as adults we have no training to be parents and a lifetime of hearing how hard parenting is and how bratty kids are. No wonder people hailed the supernanny show like it was the best thing since sliced bread. But watching the kids on that show just reinforces the idea that kids are awful. I think most tv promotes that idea. (This seems to have hit a nerve with me, huh?) And while we’re talking about this (or maybe just I’m talking at this point :>), why do we try to be polite and excuse other kids rotten behavior. I’m even guilty of excusing my own kids misbehavior when I’m around other moms. “Oh, he needs a nap” or “he’s just so used to being the oldest – that’s why he’s being so bossy.” Maybe it’s time mommies got serious with other mommies and encouraged one another to do something about it.
    So was that enough ranting for first thing in the morning?
    Dawn, I’m so glad your children provided others a glimpse of a normal, happy family who loves one another. Maybe that won’t always be such a foreign sight. And speaking of teaching common courtesy – it sure seems like these people missed a few lessons.

  8. whimsy says:

    I’ve noticed a prevailing attitude that large families MUST be on welfare. OR if we’re not now, at least some of our offspring will be. How else can you afford that many kids? Also, you must not be very well educated or you would know how to prevent such things.

    Let them think what they want.

    I bet there are also young people who see your family and see a vision of what they want to have one day. Even if they don’t recognize it or say something about it.

  9. Jenna says:

    *laughs* We have the opposite situation. Everyone expects our daughter to be PERFECT all the time, because she is an only child, and therefore gets all of our attention. What it really means though is that she gets a little wild around other children because she is SO excited to see them. lol She’s not rude or anything, but so many people see children ACTING LIKE CHILDREN to be unruly.

  10. Melanie says:

    Just a thought to answer your “why??”
    I’m in the midst of reading _So Much More_ by the Botkin sisters {anyone familiar with VisionForum ministries?} So far it is a REALLY good book. Last night I was reading a chapter called “Daughters, Fathers and their Enemies” — mostly about Cultural Marxism. Wow — sound like heavy stuff?? It’s so true tho’ — the destruction of civilization from within. The Frankfurt School in Germany (think tank in 1920’s) identified each main element of biblical Christianity and then invented its opposite… if the Bible taught a family-based educationmodel, they insisted on forced state schooling… If the Bible taught male leadership, they insisted on forced cultural changes to place women over men… If the Bible instituted marriage, they insisted on its removal… If the Bible placed high value on children , they insisted on developing a culture of widespread abortion and birth control … The goal of Marx’s feminism was to Marxise the thinking of the women, then the men, then the entire culture… God’s enemies have recognized that women are not only the weaker vessels, and consequently more easily led, but they are incredibly influential over their husbands and children, AND they make excellent and loyal helpers.
    Sorry for the long excerpt! Their point about being good helpers goes back to their distinction between men & women — God made men to be leaders (whether they choose to be good ones or bad) and women to be helpers (whether they help good men or bad). Does this make sense? Hopefully, we all had a clue on this aspect of our Western culture — but these girls are pretty adept in their discussion! (These are teenagers, mind you! they’re supposed to be rebelling against their parents, not praising them and expounding on their shared wisdom, right?!?)

    Okay, I’ll let you chew on that for now πŸ˜‰ Great book — I should finish it so that my dd can have it since she bought it, eh? =)

    But Dawn, I also have to join the chorus here: WELL DONE, YOU! Demonstrating God’s grace is commendable! Praise the Lord for the evidence of His work in ALL of your lives!
    It is so sad to see Common Courtesy so lacking elsewhere — along with Common Sense.


  11. winkies6 says:

    It’s funny, I get the “you have FOUR children??!!” I laugh. Uh-huh.

    Seriously, when my kids are in public, they are usually pretty polite. But if they don’t know you, they usually shy away a little. Maybe that is what the man at the church was talking about? My kids won’t just go up to people and introduce themselves and then therefore, they are rude? Maybe they are afraid of talking to strangers? We did live in the Detroit area, it’s not exactly the sticks…….. πŸ˜‰ Of course, your children are a tad older than mine, and have a lot more discernment as to whom they are speaking with. Mine are still in the thinking that strangers=not good.

    Really, it’s only #3 I want to send off to boot camp these days. As soon as you said something about TV, I cringed. So, today, they all had 30 minutes. THE END. After that we had a huge clean-up of the house, since we have a 18 mos/2 year old (I don’t know her age exactly) coming over tomorrow and I am afraid of her eating little legos randomly off the floor.

    Preceeding the clean-up, I was explaining to the children what we were about to do, and #2 and #3 decided to chase each other out of the room, completely ignoring every word I have said. This has become commonplace in my house as of late. I am NOT impressed. In fact, I’m horrified, saddened and completely and utterly disgusted. So I went back to something I instilled before: 30 minutes of TV, no more.

    Blah blah blah. I’m awfully verbose this evening! LOL

  12. javadawn says:

    Oh w6, I didn’t mean that because my kiddos were confident enough to shake the man’s hand that it meant they were courteous – they’re CLARKS for crying out loud!! πŸ˜‰ And believe it or not, we DO have some shy Clark chillens.
    As for the TV, I just suggested it because I watched football on Sunday – I was shocked and horrified at what is being passed off as funny. The amount of dishonoring speech that was being represented as the best of the programming left me gasping!!! (Literally! There was a commercial for one show that L.I.T.E.R.A.L.L.Y. left me GASPING in shock!) It just made me wonder if that wasn’t part of what made people expect rudeness/dishonor to be the norm.
    I am sorry if my words seemed wounding, that certainly wasn’t my intent. I can’t imagine you being the type of mommy who would be accepting of dishonoring speech.

    Tiffany, if I felt like I had some great wisdom to offer, I’d be happy to have a summer intern program. πŸ˜†

    Shannon, my dear, it’s funny – the times that I have found dishonoring speech to be the norm at my house, it is ALWAYS when I’m too busy to “hear” it. (without fail!) That causes me to pause…I say with my mouth that I want other moms to hold me accountable to that, but do I REALLY? Ugh… even as much as I have fought with holding fast to the mindset that any Godly behavior shown by my children is a matter of Grace….would I really feel like that if you came to me and said, “Dawn, I really think you need to address this child’s behavior.” (gulp)??? Would I honestly be able to get my pride where it needs to be to have you address that in my life? I would WANT to, but I can’t promise that I WOULD. I would OH SO hope that my focus would be on seeing God honoring behavior revealed in my children and not just concern for my own skin. (is that a horridly honest confession?!!!)
    Speaking of….I have some chillens I need to attend to – whimsy, Jenna and Mel….I’ll be back. You’re not off the hook, yet. πŸ˜‰

  13. myderbe says:

    We’re still in that training stage about speech. Unfortunately, I blow it too often so I often end up being the example for asking for forgiveness. But I’m working on my speech, and we’re working on their speech as well. We moms of little ones need to be careful not to compare a houseful of littles to a houseful with plenty of bigger ones who’ve already been trained.

    I also was reminded today of speaking aloud what we believe our children can become as if it were obviously true. When we see a tiny glimmer of polite, gentle speech — “You are a polite little lady. You speak so gently to your younger brother.” If we say it often enough, they’ll grow into it fully. (At least, that’s a good plan.)

    When my girls (now 7 & 8) were 2 & 3, I told them all the time that they were best friends. I guess it’s sort of brainwashing. πŸ™‚ But they believe me. We’ve been doing the same thing with the boys. We are drilling into our children that they are each other’s best friends, that they are so fortunate to have each other. Yes, they still fuss and speak rudely to each other (and occasionally even push or hit one another — none of which we encourage), but we see glimmers of that end result we’re hoping for.

  14. javadawn says:

    OOOOOOOOHHHHHHHH md, EXCELLENTLY SPOKEN!!! “We moms of little ones need to be careful not to compare a houseful of littles to a houseful with plenty of bigger ones who’ve already been trained.” HUGE difference! I forget I need to remind you all of this, I’m SO sorry!!!

    We’ve told our kids that they’re best friends and that we’re a team, as well. It truly has become Truth in their minds!
    (Ok, I have a son patiently waiting for me to come get a crabbing baby. I MUST get out of here. Official rule – no one else can post something intelligent until I get signed off!!) πŸ˜‰

  15. Tiffany says:

    myderbe- we do that too. things like “thank you for getting your sisters binky, you are so thoughtful” and things like that. And definitely encouraging TONS when you see the glimmer of the trait you are hopping for. It seems to make her excited too, to help and be involved and to have us comment on it. And you’re right about the house of littles vs. house with some bigs….sometimes I forget that not all of this happens over night. That the tantrums with my two year old aren’t going to magically disapeer, and that if we have the occaisionaly (or even frequent) bad day, it isn’t the end of the world. She is two after all.

    Which is something I’ve been thinking about tons lately. (I’ll try not to write a book here….) but I know in me the times when I more greatly struggle with my flesh in my interactions with people- generally if I’m tired, hungry, or sick. It is so much easier to try and rely on myself during those times, fall flat on my face, adn then justify it because of some discomfort I’m feeling. So how much more so my toddler? Now, that doesn’t make the resulting behavior any more ok. Throwing a temper tantrum because we got stuck in traffic and lunch is late is still wrong. BUT the way I understand what is going on and how I deal with it is much much different. Does that make sense? Am I totally off my rocker here?

    Ok, I’ll stop rambling now.

    Oh, dawn, I just love your blog. I know I’ve said this recently, but I just can’t express enough how uplifting I find reading here.

  16. javadawn says:


    You are SO NOT off your rocker. That is what grace is about. It doesn’t tolerate sin, but it understands it is rampant in our hearts and that it will require us to respond in a way that will reach….and hold the hearts of our children. That IS the goal, right? As the hearts of our children are turned toward us, it is then our delight and pleasure to turn the hearts of our kiddos to our Lord. I can’t fathom what God was thinking when He created the plan, but I know I have seen it for many, many years – our children associate us with God. (doesn’t THAT send quivers down my spine!!) What they learn of us is their first taste of God…. (talk about GULP)
    Okaayyy, I just popped in here to see if anyone else had left a request for prayer… I will be back to chat! (You’re just too engaging Miss Tiffany Lou!) πŸ˜€

  17. winkies6 says:

    Oh Dawn! I didn’t think you were wounding me at all. Sometimes we need reminders and we find them in different places all the time. You just happen to say something that sparked my mind. Or kicked my pants? πŸ˜‰ I have been saying for about a month now that one of my children has complete lack of respect for me and I can’t figure out what it is that I can do to help him and me. As soon as you said something about the TV, I was like, DUH! Maybe they have been watching a little too much….. So, THANK YOU! LOL

    I don’t think I was necessarily comparing my children to your older children (I think I said that :o/) but definately hoping that they would aspire to be as confident (one day). πŸ™‚

  18. Tiffany says:

    On the whole our children associating us with God topic…our first daughter’s first word was “Abba”. We hadn’t planned on using that word for father, but as soon as she said it, we were both just like “yes, that’s it”. Everytime she says it, it hits home of what we are showing her, who we are to be pointing her towards, the reason behind all of this parenting stuff. It is an amazing and huge thing. Still don’t fully have my mind around it.

    But boy do I love this little ones! Love ’em with a crazy love.

  19. Melanie says:

    Sorry, but here’s more to spew…

    Check out this blurb from today’s e-mail from Crosswalk Parenting:

    Dear Dr. David:

    I once heard a message about husbands complaining about there wives gaining weight. His answer was to buy your wife a membership to the gym and watch the kids so she can go! As a wife and mother of several children, yes I do have a hard time with males telling us to just β€œlose weight!” Men have never experienced having a baby attached to them for nine months that causes you to crave everything but the kitchen sink while taking sixteen hours of pain equivalent to being ran over by a β€œMac” truck to β€œdeliver” them into the world and then having to attach them to your breast for another year or two. All of these activities including having a monthly cycle, causes us to β€œcrave” to replenish our bodies. Not to mention that we start out with more fat cells than you guys do in the first place! Give us a break guys! ~ Also Disappointed

    This disappointed woman was writing to the “Relationship Doctor” at Crosswalk for help, I guess. [unless of course, he makes this stuff up?]
    ANYway, she strikes me as the kind of angry, bitter woman who would be disgusted by the Blessings you had gathered at your table in the restaurant.
    She has bought into the lie of SELF. And the fruit is rotten and bitter.

    =( You’ve got to pity the poor soul. Don’t ya think??

    ~I know because I am the queen of self-pity herself
    — and it is oh so easy to stay and wallow there!
    [I am not on a pedestal shaking my finger ;-)]

    OH, and the other “question of the week for the Doctor” was about a daughter lying and otherwise dishonoring her parents on MySpace.

    NOT a very edifying email, if you hadn’t guess it yet! [DELETE]
    Sorry to rant about it here — but it’s just another slice of the same pie, this one from a supposedly “Christian” source. :s

    THANK YOU, Dawn, for the elaboration on “gracious (honoring) speech.” THAT was edifying! =)
    I printed it to share/discuss with my DH –and likely some of our DC! (hint, hint)

  20. javadawn says:

    Melanie, I trust you won’t tell them it came from me??!! I don’t want retaliations!!! πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜€

  21. Holly says:

    I think…they just don’t see nice kids that often. Unfortunately!

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