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?

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