Ten Reasons Millennials Need Good Manners

I have been on the receiving end of a serious amount of eye rolling when reminding my sons about good manners, thank you notes and proper etiquette.

thank you note, good manners, etiquette

They have ignored me or given me the time-worn, and I believe inaccurate, argument that things have changed. I am not buying it, and here is why.

A few reminders for my sons:

1. Manners suggest gratitude rather than entitlement. The rap on your generation is pretty bad, don’t prove us right. You can still be lazy and undirected, you can live in our basements and forestall adulthood, but if you appear gracious and grateful, much will be forgiven.

2. Manners are even more important in a world that is neglecting them. Standing out from the crowd is a good thing. Making eye contact, shaking hands, giving proper deference, offering assistance and putting your phone away at the dinner table are still appreciated, if sometimes neglected, habits.

3. Manners are even more important in a world of rapid first impressions. We meet hundreds or thousands of people in our lives though most of those meetings are brief and superficial. You have seconds to make a good impression. A decent haircut, clean face, genuine smile and good manners will all be noticed. Don’t make me remind you to wash your face.

4. Manners still reflect on your family and what your parents and teachers taught you. Don’t make me look bad.

5. Manners may have changed but people haven’t and being appreciated will never, ever go out of style. I have yet to meet a single person of either gender, from any nation, of any age who does not like to be appreciated. You may meet someone who breaks this rule, but until then, remember your manners and thank people.

6. Someday, somewhere you may want something from someone. Manners and proper etiquette are like good will in the bank when you go to make a withdrawal. Wanting something in return is NOT a reason to use good manners, but sometime in life you may need to call on another’s kindness and it will help if you have been polite.

7. A great many adults have done some pretty wonderful things for you. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends and teachers have all given of themselves to improve your life. Do not disrespect them by failing to use good manners.

8. Manners are well taught in England. In your early childhood you were taught to rise when an adult entered the room, to answer questions either “yes, please” or “no, thank you” and to send handwritten thank-you notes. You may have lost those gorgeous accents of your younger days, but there is no excuse for forgetting all that your teachers drilled into you.

9. Manners are even more important in a world where relationships may never involve eye contact. We meet people online or by email every day. They will never see our faces or hear our voices. Our words will need to say who were are; choose them wisely.

10. Manners are something that people will remember about you, even if they don’t remember what they remember. Manners make an impression and while someone may not recall why they thought well of you (or badly, if you have ignored this) it may have been your courtesy. Don’t take a risk, remember what you have been taught.

I have said it a thousand times, I have said it in the face of your pushing back, shouting “I know Mom, stop it.” and I will say it one more time. You can never say thank you too many times.



  1. BCE says

    My 24 year old son writes personal thank-you notes and has learned their incredible value. He wrote a note to the CEO of the huge insurance company he works for to thank him for coming to speak to him at a small event for his executive training group. The CEO was so impressed, he called him and then invited him out for a personal lunch. My son said “mom, you taught me well!” One of those amazing “mom” moments of which I am blessed to have many from all 3 of my children that I will never forget.

    • says

      Thank you for this, exactly the kind of thing that our kid need to hear. You won’t forget and neither will the CEO.

  2. Helene Cohen Bludman says

    Excellent reminder. I think the UK has the right idea by putting manners into the curriculum.

  3. says

    #5 really reasonated with me, especially this: Manners may have changed but people haven’t and being appreciated will never, ever go out of style.

  4. says

    Excellent post, Lisa. We have told our kids these same things. Being polite and respectful will definitely help you get farther in life, no matter how smart you are or who you know. I will definitely share this post.

  5. Carpool Goddess says

    Love this Lisa! Plenty of eye rolling going on here too. Emails and texts replacing hand written thank you notes and phone calls? I’ll never get used to this.

    • says

      Love the hand written note, but the effort and saying thank you is the real thing, so I cave sometimes and let them write emails.

  6. Cathy Searle says

    I don’t mind at all if the thank you is by text or email as long as it is sent but to my mind picking up the phone is best of all. When mine were about 8 I laid it on thick about how wonderful it was when their friend X said thank you when he had been for a meal or had a lift in the car, and how all the Mums noticed and also noticed the ones who didn’t. It worked!

    • says

      So true that they remember those moments. I agree with you, I am just happy when kids remember their manner and their thank yous. I do go for the handwritten note when it is something special, but have tried to make emailing thanks a reflex…tried.

  7. says

    Totally agree, Lisa. I know we talked about this last week. I have to say that there are a few Boomers I know who might benefit from reading this as well.

    • says

      Mindy, I could use to read my own words. We all get busy, put things out of our minds and rush onwards. We can never be reminded too many times.

  8. says

    I love the reasons you list. Very on the mark. It’s good to give rationale as to why manners are important bec manners are usually taught in a “do it because I told you so” way. So kudos for writing this post.

    I grew up in a more laid back, casual type family. But thank you cards were always a biggie. My parents taught us to write those as soon as possible after getting gifts. And I still feel weird if I don’t say or write thanks to people. My husband’s parents were extremely formal. Not just TYC’s. But fork and knife in 4:00 position when finished eating. Cloth napkins. The works. It kind of made me crazy at first. My kids have picked that up from my husband. I take very little credit. Lol. But the TYC’s – I do insist. When they had bar mitzvahs I told them each they had to do 3 or 4 each night. Write something personal besides just “thank you for the whatever. ” great post – very apropos for today’s generation. With cell phones, we really fall into the rude trap these says. We have to model manners. Not just preach/tell them. I’m not always so well mannered. But I guess I am still a work in progress. Haha.

    • says

      It’s hard to model it when we think, “i will just grab my phone for a sec..” We are all works in progress on this one, I think.

  9. says

    My biggest fail as a person and a mom is thank you notes. I was only ever made to write thank you notes growing up for big things–graduation, wedding, babies–not the little occasions. So I have not stressed this for my sons. It’s something I truly need to work on and try and change for them before I send them out into the world. The rest of their manners are mostly intact and good, a few adjustments occasionally, but thank you notes needs to be fixed for all of us!

  10. LL says

    Thank goodness my girls still (almost always) send handwritten thank you notes whenever they receive a gift or now, when they have been granted an interview or meeting. I feel very strongly that this makes a lasting impression. It doesn’t hurt that they appreciate nice stationery, so I buy them new personalized notes as a gift.
    Not that this should be the primary motivation, but #4 really hits home with me. I cringe when Aunt so and so calls to confirm that one of my children actually did receive her gift – meaning that she had not yet received a thank you. Will always be a work in progress!

  11. says

    I’m an “older” mom (49 with an almost 13 year old) and these tips are great. Hoping my son will grow up exhibiting the manners I think we’re teaching him (although you’d think he was raised in a barn the way he sometimes acts at our home dining room table!)

  12. says

    This is so very true. Manners are important, and they do make a difference. We are big on the hand-written thank you notes at my house.

  13. Tina Ashburn says

    My daughter, now a mother, writes Thank You Notes, and I’m very proud of her for doing so. But then I taught her with I learned from my mother, and we share this very important aspect of life. Sure, you can use the ‘net to say “thanks” but it’s just not the same as a real card, in the mail, that is opened and kept. Long Live Manners!!

  14. says

    I’ve noticed differences in the Art of Manners depending on what region it is in the USA. The southern states still do a very good job of this.

  15. says

    The proof, as they say, is in the pudding and I am so glad to not only reap the benefits of bringing up my kids understanding the importance of manners and kindness but now I am seeing them instill that in their little ones.

  16. says

    Considering the havoc many Baby Boomers have caused in the world I really try to avoid getting preachy with my kids about manners. I just try to stress that behaving with grace & class is a real skill, one that can serve you well in the world no matter how old you may be.

  17. says

    Yes, yes and yes. As a parent, I know there were times when I was so busy trying to make a point that I missed making the point. It’s as simple as, “…because it’s the right thing to do.” But, like Carol, I’m happy to see my daughter demand good manner from my grandsons. I think you’ll be amazed at how much your boys are really absorbing.

  18. Pat says

    This is oh so true. I think I will post it in my office to remind the students that I work with. Saying thank you is so simple, and yet it is becoming a lost art.

  19. says

    Manners are going by the wayside in every single age group. I can’t believe how rude people my age are–looking at their phones mid-conversation, putting a call on hold to take another–not RSVPing. Teach manners young and you have half a chance of it sinking in, but no guarantee. I’m sad to see this turn of events.

  20. says

    I praise those with good manners a lot! In fact I just wrote a reference and said this young man has impeccable manners that will forward his career in overseas employment.

  21. says

    Great post! My husband and I have observed that today when teenagers make eye contact and are polite it stands out, we remember them in a way that is so refreshing.

  22. says

    Hi Lisa, I just loved all these reminders and they are good for us adults too. You put it all so eloquently. Every point you made rings so true.

  23. says

    Well said. I think manners are something that is lacking in today’s society. There should be more emphasis placed on teaching our kids common courtesy and etiquette.

  24. says

    I agree with everything this post has said. We all have to show good manners not just in kids but also with adults. These days, we have to reinforce the value of good manners because I’ve noticed that most kids do not respect their elders anymore. Thanks for sharing this Lisa. Happy holidays!

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