FBombs! Handy Manners Guide

“The hardest job kids face today is learning good manners without seeing any. ” — Fred Astaire

Ros Marsden authors the essential manners book every parent should gift their teenager -

F...Bombs!  The Handy Manners Guide to Make Your Life Easier

A fun, celebrity packed book that makes sense of today's tough world.

Kids and sports heroes - remember John Landy's display of impeccable sports manners?

The statue of John Landy stopping to help Ron Clarke in the middle of a race.

The statue of John Landy stopping to help Ron Clarke in the middle of a race.

Growing up in the sixties, when adults spoke of sporting achievements you heard them talk of the athlete John Landy who was the second man to break the four-minute mile, a world record holder and an Olympic athlete.

When they spoke of his greatest sporting moment they related a tale that wasn’t about his track records.  Instead, they nominated a 1956 incident at the Australian National Athletics Championships 1500m final.  Immortalised in statue John Landy was competing against another great champion Ron Clarke who fell when he was in the lead after his heel clipped another runner.  Landy stopped to help Clarke and then ran on to win the race.  It is still hailed as one of the greatest examples of ‘sportsmanship’.

Heroes are important particularly when you’re a child.  They’re often the reason others aspire to and achieve their own greatness.

This is what today’s sports heroes should be forced to face.  Lance Armstrong has shattered dreams.  A friend of mine bought a framed piece of Lance memorabilia some years ago and now she wants to throw it in the bin.  That’s how sad she is.  Now there are investigations into Australian AFL football clubs to see if teams were administered illegal substances.  Steroid accusations have been part of Olympic swimming for years.

Stop all of you.  A hero is someone like John Landy and he would modestly refuse that title anyway.  Money was not part of the early modern Olympics and maybe that’s why it was better.   Examples of sportsmanship and sporting manners were more common.

There are children everywhere with role models who are disappointing them in the twenty-first century.  No matter how you want to justify wrong-doings in your own head, there is no excuse.  We’re all responsible for our own actions.

At the end of the day, perhaps the best heroic model for any child is a solid family structure surrounded by great people who laugh, show courtesy, possess manners that reflect kindness and have fun.

Parents' rights. Boundaries can be good.

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In tennis, cricket or baseball children learn rules.  Where to run, lines to stand on, who bats first and when you’re expected to arrive at practice.  They learn about boundaries, in most sports the line that defines the limits of the playing area.  Punishments for going outside the boundaries are clear – muck it up and you lose.  It’s a simple and straightforward logic.

Parents should think about boundaries every day because kids understand them.  Kids are comfortable with the laws of boundaries because sports rules are consistent and mostly fair. Sports-loving children accept the decisions even if they don’t agree with the umpire’s ruling.

No is a clear concise word with excellent boundaries. 

You don’t have to justify many of the decisions you make about your child’s behaviour.  They are born into a community and certain rules just have to be obeyed.  If the pedestrian light says stop we make our children stay on the footpath but we descend into a lather of guilty perspiration if an 8 year old wants to stay up late to eat with adults at a dinner party.  We don’t need to explain that it’s mummy and daddy time, all we have to say is no, it's your bedtime.  No argument, no debate, just no.  If you are in a restaurant and your child misbehaves there’s no need for explanation if they won’t stop disturbing other customers.  You pick them up quietly, go outside, state that you both need to stay there until the child calms, and immediately your boundary is set.  Maybe you have to sacrifice a couple of meals to get to acceptable restaurant behaviour but you can bet the child knows the boundaries and the consequences next time you visit.

Setting boundaries early helps the transition into teenage years when the questions become harder and they want to take alcohol to parties or go to music weekends or sleep over when you want them home.

We over-talk with our children, too much explanation, too much trying to reason, too much making them feel their opinion matters.  Of course their opinions matter but pick the argument.  Value their opinions when they talk about trees being chopped down or see their friend sad from a family problem.

Become friendly with the concept of boundaries and the love that you display with a fair yes or no.  Then the goals of parenting might be simpler to score.  And don’t beat yourself up if it doesn’t always work – even Bradman and DiMaggio missed a few balls in their career, but both kept on trying.  Good luck!

Jerry Seinfeld on cell phone manners

Jerry Seinfeld cries out in his current stand-up act, "I mean do we even know what rudeness is any more?" He's talking about today's phenomenon of mobile phones and the way they've changed our inter-personal skills.  For a comedian whose lifetime has been dedicated to the clarity of words, it's clearly frustrating.  He riffs about texting in company, our paralysis if our battery runs down and our conscious choice to prefer phone play when we're sitting across from someone at the table.  "Can I just pick up a magazine and put it in front of your face and read it while you're talking, is that okay?"
 
Look around you.... Walk down the street, jump on a bus and you are guaranteed to be surrounded by headphone implanted humans, their fingers dancing round minuscule keyboards.
 
Even worse is the human arrogance believing a restaurant or a train carriage is a person's private boardroom to negotiate sales, discipline staff or sign-off company takeovers at a volume guaranteed to disturb everyone in the vicinity.  And what about the domestics we're forced to share? Partners shouting in mouthpieces over who's cooking dinner, when are the kids due home?  Apparently all discussions that we're privileged to overhear.
 
Then there are the friends who join you for lunch and immediately place their phone on the tablecloth in front of you.  It's their declaration that "I'm so incredibly important that I can only spare you half my attention during this meal.". Or shop assistants, half-way through processing a payment who have to wait while the customer takes a call about that night's gym class.
 
There's a serious side to this too.  Significant numbers of people are being killed because they have failed to hear approaching cars or trains when they've been walking with their phones plugged in.
 
In the onslaught of technology we've forgotten one of the most vital aspects of being a human -the art of conversation and the ability to be stimulated by personal interaction.  Not to mention plain good manners!
 
Jerry Seinfeld tried to smother his wife's blackberry under his breakfast yoghurt explaining that he thought it was a fruit, but sadly she was onto him.  Like all of us, he'll have to try a lot harder to redefine modern etiquette.