Thursday, April 7, 2005

Dear Abby:

I work as a teacher's aide at a private religious elementary school. You would think the children here would be better mannered than most; however, I haven't found that to be true.

Rarely do I ever hear a "please" or "thank you." The other teachers and I politely remind the students to say both "please" and "thank you," but the lesson never seems to sink in. The children tell us their parents don't require such things at home, so they shouldn't have to say "please" and "thank you" or even "excuse me" at school. We have talked to these parents, and they side with their children. What else can we do?

Stunned in Sacramento

What else can you do? Talk to the children in terms of their own self-interest. Tell them that words like "please," "thank you" and "excuse me" are magic words with great power. People who hear them are far more inclined to accommodate the person who uses these words than someone who doesn't.

Parents who fail to teach their children basic good manners do their children a grave disservice, because good manners and respect for others are essential for success.

Dear Abby:

My sister and her family live in the Southwest. I live in North Carolina. Ever since their children were born, I have sent them money for birthdays and for the holidays.

My husband and I were not blessed with children of our own. The adults in the family exchange cards, but not gifts.

We have decided that when the nieces and nephews reach the age of 18, we would like to stop sending them money. We are not terribly close, but I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings. My nephew will soon be 18.

Any suggestions?

Aunt Molly

It is not uncommon to stop sending gifts when younger relatives reach adulthood. Look at it this way: Gift-giving puts a burden on young people, too, because they often can't afford to reciprocate, or they aren't particularly close to the sender.

Send your nephew a nice card for his birthday. And at holiday time, send one gift -- such as fruit or flowers -- for the entire family to enjoy.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby atwww.DearAbby.comor P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, Calif. 90069.

2005Universal Press Syndicate

© 2005 The Washington Post Company