Parents outsource etiquette

Parents are outsourcing etiquette lessons, reports CBS News.

For busy families, like the Plonskers, where both parents, Patricia and Jeff, work long hours, sending Joey, 17, and Pearl, 12, to etiquette school seemed a fast track to domestic order.

“I don’t want to spend my time nitpicking them, but of course I won’t let them throw rolls across the table,” says Patricia Plonsker.

A regular tyrant.

Some parents aren’t clear on etiquette rules themselves. Others say they’re too busy. Or they never actually eat with their children.

About Joanne


  1. We need to first define terms such as “etiquette” and “manners”. Does it mean actual respect, or a formal artificial code of behavior? Some of the most evil SOBs with whom I had the misfortune to share the planet had the most polished etiquette. And of course there are etiquette fascists too.

    So excuse my skepticism here. I have little tolerance for bullshit that hides (or maybe creates) yet another form of petty bigotry. Real manners, no problem. Or is it just putting the fork on the right place on the table, and using the right handshake, then being a total bastard the rest of the day?

    Beeman, proudly autistic and schizophrenic!

  2. lindenen says:

    This should be entitled “parents outsource parenting”.

  3. Walter E. Wallis says:

    All codes of behavior except take what you want when you want it if you can are artificial.

  4. All codes of behavior except take what you want when you want it if you can are artificial.

    I have no argument here. Artificial and arbitrary. And some codes of behavior (and morality) do work better than others.

    My only point is that the SOBs who do take the most of what they want, when they want it, if they can, and if and when they can get away with it – do so under the cover of etiquette, manners, politeness, and charm. For them, it’s just another tool to manipulate people.

    To make a long story short, etiquette is not the same as morality.

  5. Etiquette is the way to get people from being disgusting without having to actually pass rules or law. When laws have to be made, then you know ettiquette has broken down.

    The bad name etiquette got was from the Victorians who were trying to keep the new money folks down by proliferating eating utensils and calling it manners.

    In any case, etiquette is not about morals, it is true. Some of the people with the most exquisite manners were moral monsters. However, not having any manners (blowing your nose on your sleeve, talking while eating, talking loudly on the cell phone in a restaurant, slobbering over one’s lover in public) is a moral failing, as it shows lack of consideration for other people. Last time I checked, having no concern for the feelings of others was no virtue.

  6. Oh, and etiquette is something that is properly learned in the family. We’ve been teaching our 2-yr-old to wipe her mouth and to not throw her plate on the floor. Etiquette isn’t about putting your pinky in the air or how to sniff a wine cork, but how to act civilized.

    Check out George Washington’s etiquette list sometimes. Many of the items are about not doing something disgusting, like picking your teeth with a knife or wiping your face on your sleeve at table.

  7. BadaBing says:

    Could somebody please tell the hordes of Chinese immigrants flooding into this country that it’s rude to stand outside the restaurant where you just had dinner and, in full view of those seated by the window inside, hock a thick green loogie on the cement, even if you are Mr. Big in a brand-new Armani suit, waiting for the valet to bring you your brand-new black Mercedes? Or maybe such phenomena are only part and parcel of the brave new multicultural wonderland in which we all now live. If so, I need to work on my tolerance.

  8. Like I said, I have no problem with real manners based on respect. Live and let live, give the other fellow a chance, etc. The problem is, that “disgust” is personal in nature, and it’s not always easy to see what others find disgusting. Keep your body fluids to yourself – that’s obvious (and has more to do with public health anyway). But what if someone finds my face, or the way I move, or the way I talk, or my choice of clothes, to be disgusting?

    And there’s also (as someone mentioned) cultural issues. Not only national and ethnic, but regional and interest-based. I have had some personal experience with this, in business contacts between Silicon Valley internet gurus and upper crust East Coast management types.

    In some ways, this issue is like “acceptable” T-shirt and bumper sticker messages. If we’re gonna have rules, make them loud, clear, simple, and consistent. No hypocrisy, such as “fascism bad, everything-left-of-liberalism good”.

  9. Badabing:

    Or maybe such phenomena are only part and parcel of the brave new multicultural wonderland in which we all now live. If so, I need to work on my tolerance.

    This has to do with tribalism, which makes the activities of a group more acceptable than those of an individual. And cultural relativism too. In Singapore, spitting on a street is a public health issue, and a crime.

    In many Asian cultures, keeping your mucus in your handkerchief stored on your person is more disgusting than ejecting it onto the street. Makes sense, too. The problem is with a recent finding (compared to centuries-old codes of etiquette) called the Germ Theory of Disease. Now the established etiquette doesn’t make sense.

    Much of Western etiquette is Victorian in origin, and hence post Germ Theory.

  10. The real stumper is why did these people have children if they are not going to take the time to teach them? Sounds like they are another accesory.

  11. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Why did these people have children? Well, this little pollywog shaped thing swims… Oh, that isn’t what you meant?