Sunday, November 8, 2015

Fighting back against society’s incivility

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,
My daughter, Jessica (not her real name) and her friends (in the eighth grade) are constantly saying to each other, “I hate you” and then laughing.

It’s not only that. They are supposed to be friends but the four of them are consistently rude, laughing, texting while they are with each other, talking about … really nothing, and they always make weird faces at each other for no reason.

Jess and her friends mock everyone, ignore everyone, take bites of each other’s food without asking, use each other’s stuff without asking, they even go into our refrigerator and don’t ask if they can have something, but they just take it and eat it.

I had cheeses on a tray for company and one girl ate half of the cheddar cheese. Jess told me, “Mom, it’s no big deal, you have enough for tonight. I do this at their houses and their mom doesn’t care.”

Well, first off, I’m sure the other moms do care but I don’t know them. I had a long discussion with Jess telling her what is acceptable and how she should behave and her friends need to be more polite. She ended up yelling at me and saying “I do hate you.”

Is there something mentally wrong with my daughter? Should I take her to a therapist?

Mom of an Impolite Girl

Dear Mom,

We doubt she has mental issues that need to be discussed with a therapist. However, it never hurts to have her assessed. It might help her to understand that she needs to respect your boundaries, to have common courtesy, and to have the manners you have taught her or she will incur consequences.

Incivility, which consists of rude or unsociable speech or behavior, impolite or offensive behavior or comments, has reached epidemic crisis levels. It’s become our “new normal.”

Rudeness, insensitivity, disrespectfulness, carelessness, mean joking, criticizing, mocking, at anyone’s expense, especially the expense of those you love and those in authority, is a recipe for a failed society.

Adults have accepted this crass “new normal,” too. Many adults are accepting reality shows, social media, TV shows, offensive pictures, behavior, and thoughts that demonstrate this abhorrent behavior as normal.

Society must go back to the Golden Rule taught by previous generations:  Do unto others as you would have them do to you. 

Call the girls into your home, sit them down, and make sure you have their undivided attention as you explain that you have boundaries about civility, love and care in your home.

They may not abuse your rules. Write down your Top Ten. For instance, some rules you might begin to impose are: don’t take food without asking; don’t say the word “hate” in your home; pay attention to others in a thoughtful way.

If every adult started being a good example, disrespect and incivility would be unacceptable among our young people.
Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

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