Too many of us forget the common courtesies of life. Old or young, we all are guilty at some time of forgetting our manners. When I was a young person, it was my observation that those other young people called teenagers were either very forgetful or entirely ignorant of the common courtesies. I suppose this error could be because of a deficiency of training by parents, or a disregard for training if they did have it. It is better to get into the habit of using these common courtesies while young, as it may not come easy by the time you are twenty. I am happy to say that a lot of the teenagers I see these days seem to be more polite.
I will list here just a few of some common, everyday courtesies often forgotten:
- Thank you notes. A simple, one-sentence note will at least tell the giver (who was kind enough to spend money on you) that you received the gift, that it was not lost or stolen, and that you were alive to receive it. Just take 5 minutes out of your day to write one, or better yet, jot down a note as soon as you open the gift. In these modern times, we are told that even a phone call or an email will do to express thankfulness to gift givers.
- Giving way on the sidewalk to the elderly, and men should give way to the ladies. Boys should give way, too, as soon as they are old enough to know this. It is very annoying when a group of boys or girls are spread out on the sidewalk, or in a store aisle or at the mall, and they play "chicken" with people walking towards them. I have seen this done many times, and eventually people are intimidated to get out of their way. And if you do not get out of their way, watch out! They will plow right on through you. This is very impolite.
- Opening doors for the elderly and ladies. Have you ever seen an able-bodied young man open one of those heavy glass doors in a store, and then just let go of it, leaving the poor woman behind him to get smashed or struggle with it alone? It may be excusable if he did not notice someone behind him, but is very rude when the fellow knows there is someone there.
- Refrain from snickering. It is very rude to laugh behind your hands at someone. If you notice, this snickering is often done with friends, and becomes a "group effort." Many times I have seen someone pass by a couple of girls, who explode into snickering, leaving the victim wondering why. Perhaps there is nothing wrong with the person passing by, but the rudeness and thoughtlessness on the part of the snicker-er causes much needless embarrassment and consternation to that person. Although it is sometimes hard, when you are thirteen, to refrain from a smile or giggle when you see something odd (for instance, someone with their hair dyed three colors and sticking up in spikes in all directions) we must do our Christian best at self control, and remember the golden rule.
- A nice older man on a tractor tipped his hat to me while I was on a walk down the road, and it made my day. Though not the fashion anymore, this is a very polite thing for the men to do, and ladies should respond with a cheerful smile.
- Smiling. Keep any sneering off of your face! Simply smiling at someone instead of giving them a cold stare may change that person's mood. A lady told me of the time she was in the grocery store, and smiled at an elderly man as she walked by. She thought nothing of it, but he did, and he deliberately searched her out to thank her for making his day. Our faces naturally fall into a frown when relaxed, and it takes more muscles to smile, but in the end when we all get wrinkles, would you rather have smile lines or frown lines? Teenage girls look radiant when they smile, but so often I see the deepest frowns on their young faces.
- Talking. Yes, believe it or not, talking is an everyday courtesy! Too many teenagers are sullen, and refuse to enter into a conversation (especially if the conversation is with adults or parents). It eases tension if you keep up a conversation. Be sure to be polite in replying as well. A sharp YES, NO, or a sarcastic answer to questions makes the other person so uncomfortable, they may avoid talking to you the next time!