Google+ Authentic Parenting: Nothing Common About Common Courtesy

Friday, June 3, 2011

Nothing Common About Common Courtesy

Some of you may know that we are staying in a communal house for the past two months, until another house is liberated. So we're sharing living room and kitchen with 3 twenty something guys without a family (and their visitors).
Now what I'm going to write about isn't new to me, it' a phenomenon I'd already witnessed time and again, but ow, I'm confronted with it each and every day.

People evoke that children need to be polite, that they need to be taught 'common courtesy', they need to listen, they need to be quiet and respect others and so on and so on... All this is categorized under the label of manners. And children 'need' to learn lots and lots of them.
However, even though all of this is expected of children and their parents (may I add pregnant parents), none of this is returned. Basically, the same adults demanding these manners and courtesy of the child don't have them themselves.

Image: Informatique on Flickr
So, my child is expected not to make noise on Sunday morning because they like to sleep in. She is expected not to finish the chocolate paste, or the juice, or the candy. She is expected to be quiet and gentle around the others. She is expected not to whine. She has to show perfect manners at the table, certainly no sitting on the table or taking things with her hands or...

However, they find it perfectly logical to drink at her bottle of soda without asking it (who does such a thing, that's just filthy). They finish the savory pie I have made without asking if I or my family would like a piece, thus sending a small child and a pregnant woman to bed without any food.
They find it perfectly logical that they stay up until 3 in the morning on Sunday, thus waking up my entire family.
It is also completely normal that they smoke in the communal space at night 'because there are mosquitoes outside'. (May I remind you of the small child and pregnant woman)
It's also completely normal that they eat at late hours for lunch and dinner and expect us to wait (and then look at us strange when we don't), because certainly, a pregnant woman and a child must be able to postpone their hunger until they are finished drinking.
It is also perfectly acceptable that they come knock on my door and wake me and my daughter when we are taking naps.

But it is not them. Don't get me wrong, I'm not blaming these guys. It is society at large. I can give just as many examples for when we are staying at my family or my inlaws.
People expect children to be quiet and if possible invisible, so that their very important lives are not disturbed. And parents are only there to keep the kids in line. We expect of other things that we will never do and we don't even have the common courtesy we desire of our fellow man.



  1. What a terribly, terribly tough spot in which to be! I hope you're out of there soon!

    I agree that it is very common for people to have high expectations of children and then not be able to live up to those expectations themselves!

    Love the new site design. The tree image is awesome!

  2. How horrible! They sound like self-absorbed pricks to me. Grrrr!

  3. Can you believe it? they are more childish than my 3yo! Two days ago, one of them saw her play with some chess pawns, from a game they didn't even remember they had. And suddenly it was: make sure she doesn't lose any! SHe shouldn't be playing with that! That's our game... blahblah. SO yesterday the same guy starts asking about the game, saying it is his, he needs it back...
    SO I put it all together and I can't find those paws she was playing with.
    The guy asks for it again at lunchtime.
    In the evening, my huz goes investigate, because we figured he had probably taken back the pawns himself. SO not only do we discover he had actually HIDDEN the paws, he also had the exact same game in his room, so it certainly wasn't his, but the game of the house.
    He came back to ask again in the evening and was VERY surprised that we had everything.

    Gawd, this is completely stressing me out and makes me want to kill!!

    But that said, I notice the same behavior at my inlaws and at my parents. Daughter has to hop though loops, while they do exactly the opposite

  4. It sounds horrible. The same as the link you posted on Facebook the other day!

    I hope you get out of there very soon!

  5. Hi! I love your blog, and share many of your beliefs :) I am worried about your situation: I don't think living in that environment is good for you or your family. If not for the actions, at least for the examples it is setting to your child. I hope you find an alternative spot to go to soon. Community living is less and less common these days and people that did not share the same upbringing do not respect the others space... All the luck ;)

  6. this is such a frustrating double-standard that I have been unfortunate to experience as well. people don't want to have their own bad behavior interrupted by a child's bad behavior. I recently realized that it all comes down to introspection: with introspection, we become responsible. without it we feel entitled. best of luck to you in moving out of a toxic situation as soon as possible. and in the meantime, maybe have a "community meeting" during which you explain, at the very least, that your schedule and your food are yours and not something that others have control over!

  7. Luckily, we are now on holiday, since I had to go meet my midwives. Normally when we get back, we move out of the flat and into the laundry room (seriously), which is actually a small detached studio. SO at least we won't be sharing meals. We'll still be inches away, but at least it'll be an improvement. And hopefully our temporary housing will be finished quickly... But there are many problems with the contractor... sigh
    You know, I could bitch about the unfairness of our situation, and give shocking anecdotes for about a year more

  8. leave the jokes for next year: you'll be able to laugh more, once you are done with that experience... All the best!

  9. Oh, but didn't you get the memo that said common courtesy only applies to children?! #sarcasm

    I sincerely hope you are in a better living situation soon. That sucks.


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