What Do Words Really Mean?

As parents we teach our children, from a very young age, to see please, and thank-you. We teach our children to respect their elders, to give up there seats on trains or buses for the elderly or the handicapped or women who are pregnant. We drill, over and over that “there is a word missing……”  We hope that they will eventually do this on their own. It’s what we expect from them but recently I’ve realized it doesn’t always work out the way we think it should. Maybe our expectations are too high? Maybe we are totally wrong. It could go either way.

We even prompt them sometimes and my children are not children anymore, they are 15 and 17. Something you would like to say we ask lightly? Did you forget anything? It’s really nothing more than a step up from “what’s the missing word little Susie?”

My husband and I took our teenagers to Aruba over Christmas holiday. We barely saw our son much less heard from him. He was safely ensconced in his “bachelor pad” pool house of his best friend’s grandmother’s mansion. Our daughter, being stuck with us in our room and without the amusement of fighting with her brother non-stop, tended to be sullen, and critical. When my daughter was 2, it was all about her. She is now 15 and everything still has to revolve around her. She has a lot of compassion for animals, I hope she will learn compassion for people, other than her friends, too.

We try and lead by example, my husband and I are both very polite individuals; both of us having grown up with European parents. We tended to be stricter than any of our friends who have children. Even my niece and my nephew never had curfews and their parents hardly ever knew where they were. This is not acceptable in our house. There are a lot of things we DON’T know and many things we have already have conceded, but we still feel children still need some structure.  Is that too old fashioned or being sensible?

My husband and I are betting if the children will thank us for this vacation. He thinks they will not. I think my son might and then my daughter will murmur her agreement.  So far, we haven’t heard any “Thank you’s” for meals, expenses, the trip…..Do the words replace actions?   I don’t think so. It’s something, but it certainly is not enough, not nearly enough. I know I have to give them slack, a lot of slack because they are teenagers and their worlds do revolve around themselves….

Am I being too harsh?  Is it wrong to expect teenagers to have manners? Am I fooling myself?  Honestly? I really don’t know.  Our son spent the entire time with his friend in Aruba without so much as an e-mail much less a phone-call  to us.  He only came to visit here when he and his friend wanted to use the gym OR when his friend’s father made them visit for a little while on Christmas Day.

This is our first encounter with teenagers at this age and we’re lost. Both my husband and I were not typical teens (whatever that really is). We were highly respectful and gracious and always had good manners. Call us boring but that’s what we were.  In the soon to be near future, my husband and I plan to go away on vacation sans teenagers and enjoy each other all the more.

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