Because You Are Polite

by Ginger Philbrick

Unhappy birthday to you, pandemic!

You stole a great deal from many. Among the losses you visited upon us over the last two years is the natural social development of teens. To be sure, those growing into new bodies and new social situations had technology which was kept busy assuring that facial recognition and the latest news of interest was alive.

But the day to day physical contact with another person—learning how to conduct oneself with comfort among the larger population—had to be shelved until we could all move about more freely.

Parents and grandparents have told me over the lifetime of this column that they clip it and give it to their teen relatives. I have loved hearing that, but I would like to write a few columns directly addressed to those who are much younger than I and who are maneuvering through the wonderful-terrible-exhilarating-humbling-awkward period that is the unavoidable doorway to adulthood. Therefore, over the next weeks, I will offer snippets of advice that I hope will help ease what is often called coming-of-age. I will begin with the why.

Dear Teen,

Does the word manners bring on immediate queasiness? If so, I suspect that is because you are enduring years of being told what to do by those who claim to love you. Commands such as “Sit up straight!”, “Look at me when I’m talking!”, “Take your elbow off the table” and, the most aggravating one, “Smile!”

If you are being made to read this by an adult, just take a deep breath and relax. Amazing as it may seem now, these low moments in your life will, like the metamorphosis of the butterfly, change into a whole lifetime of confidence, self-respect, and a likability that will make what feels like criticism well worth considering.

A survey by Dr. Alex J. Packer, an author who has enjoyed working with teens for years, and was once one himself, shows the top five ways in which being polite has paid off for teens:

• Got a job.

• Got something I wanted from my parents.

• Got compliments and respect.

• Got in good with someone I liked a lot.

• Got help from teachers.

Consider sticking with me over the next weeks as I share some of the specific ways (and why they work) of making this time in your life pay off big time.

Ginger Philbrick is the owner of Because You Are Polite LLC. You are invited to email your manners questions to her and she will respond as time and space allow. You may contact her at youarepolite1@gmail.com.