From the snarky chatter that ensued the "conscious uncoupling" announcement of Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin to the incessantly dismissive tone of kid-to-parent dialogue on shows such as the popular kid-faves iCarly and Good Luck Charlie, I've been recently reminded of the need to teach our kids (and remind ourselves!) about manners.
On that note, this week's Things To Tell My Daughter Volume 2: Etiquette for the modern world.
1. Nix the snarkiness. A ton of TV shows on air today depict smart-assy kids that have no respect for each other or for their parents. Just stop and listen to what you're saying. Stop. Then listen to your mommy repeat an old adage that stands the test of time, no matter the denomination, era or circumstance: "Do unto others as you would have them do onto you." Simple, right?
2. Introduce yourself. Even if someone else really should be doing it, take the initiative. Sometimes you just feel lazy and think you really don't need to, but you kinda really need to. Goes for kids and grownups both.
3. Say "you're welcome." Everything is "mm, hmmm" instead of "you're welcome" or "thank you." When did this happen? Acknowledge when someone pays you a compliment, when someone brings you a drink, when someone does something for you or takes care of you in any small way. It just makes everything better. It shows that you noticed, and that you appreciated the gesture.
4. Get off your phone. iPhone, Android, BlackBerry: Everyone is on their phone. We get it (we are too). Paying for their coffee and on the phone. At the dinner table and on the phone. In the car and on the phone (when you shouldn't be). Put the phone down. Be present with the people you're with.
5. Learn how to make conversation. It is not rocket science. We know: Sometimes you don't feel like it. If you can push yourself, nine times out of 10 you will be rewarded. Make the effort. Engage. Ask questions. Smile. You just never know who you might meet and experience along the way. You really do get back what you put in.
6. Say "thank you" when someone opens a door for you. Don't walk right through and pretend you didn't see them. Seriously. We're calling you on it.
7. Don't just sit there. If you're at the dinner table and finished--and everyone else is too--offer to help clear the dishes. We mean at home, but especially if you're a guest in someone else's house.
8. Don't talk about people behind their backs. Well, maybe just with your mom or dad or your best friend, but not with the crowd. It's very uncool and it will come back to bite you. It was Eleanor Roosevelt who said, "Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people." That's something to strive for in this day and age when we all know too much about everybody and their business.
9. Keep a secret. Fail there and how can you blame anyone for not trusting you after that?
10. Admit when you're wrong. And be gracious to those who do the same. And yes, I'm talking about big brothers but also everyone else you will meet in your big beautiful life.
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