Mamacita says: Caroline Lake Quiner Ingalls knew how to raise her children so that they would know how to behave themselves properly no matter where they might find themselves.
In Little Town on the Prairie, a teen-aged Laura is invited to a party. She had gone, years ago, to a little girls’ party, but this was entirely different. This was a high school party. Laura had no idea what to expect, and no idea how she was supposed to behave in this unknown situation.
Laura’s Ma, on the other hand, knew exactly what to tell Laura about public behavior. Please pay attention, parents, because this applies even today. Remember: people of any age and background will always be more confident when they know how to behave. And when they know how to behave, the smart ones WILL behave. But first, they have to know how to behave.
(After reading the invitation) Laura sat limply down. Ma took the invitation from her hand and read it again.
“It’s a party,” Ma said. “A supper party.”
“Oh, Laura! You’re asked to a party!” Carrie exclaimed. Then she asked, “What is a party like?”
“I don’t know,” Laura said. “Oh, Ma, what will I do? I never went to a party. How must I behave at a party?”
“You have been taught how to behave wherever you are, Laura,” Ma replied. “You need only behave properly, as you know how to do.”
If we teach our children how to behave properly wherever they go, EVERYBODY, including the children themselves, will have a better time. People who know how to behave themselves are more welcome, more inclined to be invited back, and more deserving of praise, privileges, and all other positive “things.”
These days, a lot of adults don’t seem to know how to behave themselves in public, either. We can all learn a lot from Laura’s Ma. She knew her stuff.
I think parents worry far too much about their children’s self esteem these days. Genuine self-esteem must be earned. We aren’t born deserving self-esteem; we have to deserve it. It must be EARNED. I think a polite,well-behaved child with an awareness of how nice people act in public is far more deserving of a sense of high self-esteem than is a brat the OTHER kind of child. A person of any age who knows how to restrain themselves, be patient, and act right no matter what’s going on, is always more pleasant to be around. Young parents, your children will not always be in situations wherein they can give free rein to their impulses and desire to play actively. Be sure to teach them this important fact, because few things are more unpleasant than to be subjected to undisciplined children running wildly and loudly in a public place. And if there is a more beautiful sight than well-behaved children in public, I haven’t come across it yet. I’m not talking about slimy little Eddie Haskells; I’m talking about a regular kid who’s been taught manners and is not merely expected, but REQUIRED, to use them in public.
To think otherwise is to fool only yourself. The children know. Don’t underestimate them. They KNOW. They’ll do what they know they can get by with. They KNOW. When will a lot of adults learn?
Ma Ingalls, you did it right. Thank you, Laura, for getting it all down in your books. It’s such a simple philosophy, and there’s no reason every sentient person shouldn’t be able to utilize it.
Note: Don’t even think about assuming I’m putting down SPED. I’ll only taunt you for not being a careful reader.
Oh, parents, I hope you have the entire Little House series in your homes. Don’t waste your time or money on the TV series, though; that was the pits. The books, however, are jewels, every one of them.