Is individualism to blame for bad manners?

I wrote about how our society is losing its good manners. I received some excellent comments, and the one from Sal made me think about family interactions.

Sal Said

I just had a big argument with my wife about this. For some reason, her 18 year old daughter doesnt say hello to people as she walks in the house…

…My wife has said in the past that to her daughter you dont need to do this because you are part of the family, and my response is that family is even more important than strangers.

I am making a statement that some might strongly disagree with, but I think that part of the problem with our society is individualism. Our society is addicted to winning, being the best and having the most is what capitalism is all about. Are we ready to pay the price?

Most teenagers in every culture go through a rebellion phase. They try to branch off and develop their personality and become an individual. In Colombia, most kids then get through this phase and rejoin the family unit. They come back respecting the values and core morals of the family. Respect for your elders is not just encouraged but expected, and age is looked upon as wisdom and not a handicap.

I have observed in America how teenagers after going through their rebellion phase do not come back to their families. Most of the time they develop their individualism and become a whole new person at times denouncing anything that would connect them to the past generation. I believe this is to blame in part to the loss of manners now a days. Our youth is striving so hard to separate themselves from the previous “un-cool” generation that even basic principles and common sense are ignored and forgotten.

Being in a household with a mixed culture, Cielo being born and raised in a smaller town and me coming in with the Colombian background as well as the big city life I experience have come up with our own little culture. The important thing is to not just drop one of the cultures but as a family unit come up with your own. I believe the Colombian culture has a lot to offer, and we adopt as much of it as it fits our lives. The small town living that Cielo grew up around also brings a lot of positives that have really made me slow down from the 24-hour big city life. We both still love Chicago and visit quite often, but can do without a lot of the congestion and stress that comes from a cosmopolitan city.

I think not just in our household but in all households it is important to compromise your beliefs and come up with what is best for the family. I don’t think is right to just ignore how one person lives or has lived before just for the sake of continuity. In Sal’s case I think that teaching his (step)Daughter respect and greeting people when she comes home is important. I believe that while a compromise can be reached in other terms, that keeping that sense of family involves greeting and personal contact. I think he should care, and believe in incorporating what I believe is a very positive thing into his overall family culture.

What do you guys think?

7 comments on “Is individualism to blame for bad manners?

  1. I think it’s kind of a case by case thing really. Many of my friends went through a rebellion phase, but we’ve returned to the family fold.

    As an example, someone had a post about Johnny Cash on their blog the other day and I commented how a lot of my friends and I started rejecting country music when we were growing so we could seem less Southern and “more cool.” Now, many years later, I realize how stupide it was to reject parts of my culture, but now I’ve run back to embrace them more than ever.

  2. As well as it is important for teenagers to come through this rebelion fase (one should brake the “cordon umbilical” ), it is also important to rejoin familly.

    Growing up has lots to do with getting from other people, other cultures, my people and my culture those things wich will help me grow a better person, and also to let go what stops me from being better.

    Reading this post reminded me of another post, from Kamilo Klauss. Here it is, if you don’t mind reading in spanish.

  3. I imagine your step daughter will eventually show her individuality by rebelling and actually start saying hello to people as they enter a room. I say leave well enough alone. I mean, what happens if your wife encourages her to say hello and then she starts rebelling by refusing to say hello?!? Then you are right back where you started, my friend. And that is bad news . . .

    Your friend,

    Mz Manners

  4. Very astute observation friend!!! I have noticed change over the years… you can even see it in the supermarket. These are mostly 25-35 or even 40 year-olds!!! They did NOT grow past teenage rebellion!!! The look the other way and expect YOU to move out of their way. I’m talking about me being old enough to be their mother & almost – grandmother!!! No Respect!

    I have learned from them. I recognize them when I see them. I can feel & smell their aura. I look the other way and HA HA HA!!! They actually have to go around me!!! Interestingly enough I am finding some of the younger people (high school & college age) once again showing respect when I look them in the eye! But those others? They have not grown up.

  5. Sherle,

    You have touched into another one of my observations, I have never written about it but I will in the near future. Age at times is only a number, but maturity can truly identify us in an “Age Group”

  6. I think you have made an interesting point, but it’s hard for me to say. I was definitely raised where we didn’t spend much family time together after a certain point. With dual income parents, part-time job, extra-curriculars and friends, I hardly saw my family. But, I guess my Southern parents had ingrained the manners early enough in, as they’ve stuck with me (or so I think).

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