There is more to parenting than three basic rules


Don’t drink. Don’t smoke. Don’t do drugs.

I used to think that if I abided by these few rules, I would grow up to be an exceptional child; although, I have learned that just making those three decisions doesn’t always guarantee you the label of an excellent child.

My mother desperately raised me to not only follow those tedious rules but also to become a well-rounded person. Always say your “pleases” and “thanks yous,” go to church on Sundays, be respectful to others, keep your room clean, and never eat the last piece of pizza were the rules that held my childhood together like roots in the ground.

As I have grown up and watched my earliest friends morph into amazing people and some unrecognizable people, I have noticed one thing: their manners differ so greatly from mine and from each other.

I continuously watch my friends forget their “pleases” and “thank yous” and forget how to treat people the right way, but at least they aren’t drinking, right?

Parents have focused so intently on those three basic rules—hoping their child won’t be the one to get pregnant—that they forget the other part of parenting: teaching their children manners.

Although I may make multiple mistakes, I have learned that the greatest thing my mother taught me wasn’t not to drink, smoke, or do drugs, but how to be polite, how to keep my elbows off the table, and how to put a napkin on my lap.

It is crazy to see all the variation of parenting through my peers by hearing a few simple words, but the smallest things seem to make the biggest splashes.

Don’t drink. Don’t smoke. Don’t do drugs.

Sitting at a fancy dinner with white tablecloths and bread placed in front of my friends, I see where I have learned things, and they have not. I see how the waiter looks at seven girls when we sit down. I see where childhoods differed.

Society has become infatuated with teaching kids three basic guidelines that the rest of the parenting is missed immensely.

I am lucky enough to live in a sheltered world where temptations are limited and manners are plentiful. My friends may forget a few manners here and there, but the younger the children get, the fewer the “thank yous” and the fewer the manners.

I have only caught a glimpse of this growing dilemma, but I fear it’s growing faster than imaginable.

If I have learned one thing, it is that there is more to being a good kid than following three essential rules.

Don’t drink. Don’t smoke. Don’t do drugs.