Every year, during the Chinese New Year visits when I meet the tiny human offsprings of my cousins, I will ponder about how our generation educate (or not) on the next generation, and the rationale behind that.
I try not to judge and keep an open mind, but at the same time, I am entitled to my opinion while I am also brought up to respect the sayings "Mind your own business" and "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't." Oof.
So I just quietly observe and silently judge. Hahaha.
Frankly this doesn't just apply to my (extended) family, but because we were brought up with rather similar values and behavioural rules, I guess I'd expected that things that were taught to our generation as basic courtesy, and the importance of showing respect to the elders, would have also been passed onto their children. I remembered days of big family gatherings, where the children, upon arrival, would walk through the house to greet all the elders, preferably in order of seniority. Same applies at mealtimes, and when we are bidding our farewells.
It's tedious, but I never felt that it was unnecessary, and can understand the significance of it. Even as a really reserved and shy child, I would go about doing all these despite my discomfort, because it was the minimal required etiquette in my family. Even the sister, who is even more reserved than me, and has a harder time recognising most of our relatives because she saw them much less frequently, having been born at a time when we no longer meet regularly, would strategise to tag behind me to know how to greet each person we meet. No excuses.
Fast forward to recent years, when we encounter the littles at relatives' place or family gatherings. The kids are all in their own world, either only sticking to the parentals or playing amongst themselves. and you would be told you are "lucky" if they actually greeted you. When the inclination strikes them, the parents make some half-hearted attempts to nudge their children to greet the relatives. When the kids resolutely keep quiet, they merely shrug and wryly explained, "They are shy" and left it as that.
Sure. I wouldn't be inclined to greet people I hardly see for more than once a year either, but more importantly, if I am not taught that it's important to do so, I wouldn't think it's something I need to either.
It just begs the question, "So you don't think it's important to greet your family members, and at least make a greater effort to recognise some of these relatives whom you already don't see often?" Or is it simply because you are too lazy to teach such values, only to lament that "Children these days are so hard to discipline." Okaaay.
I acknowledge that their generation is much less socially adept than even my generation - being born in a time and age where technology dictates that you learn to interact with others using your thumbs, behind a screen most of the time, definitely mean you are subjected much less to face to face interactions, but surely that's a reason to work even harder to ensure the right behaviours are taught so your children don't end up even more socially inept than they could be?
Perhaps I'm being a tad unfair since I'm not in their shoes, nor a parent myself. It's probably tougher to implement such teachings than I thought, but I know one thing. If I ever become a parent (not that even that is a given!), this is something that will be really important to me - I will not have my children be labelled as rude disrespectful brats simply because they are "shy". Because it only reflects on the type of education I subject them to, and I wouldn't be able to live with myself if I can't even teach my child(ren) what I define as basic manners. :p
(Although to be honest that's one of the reasons why I'm not inclined at all to have children - it's so much work! Not only to feed and clothe them and send them to school, but the type of upbringing I will subject them to that's acceptable to me.)
There I've said it. Another ranty post but I'm so glad I could finally air these thoughts which lurk at the back of my mind every year. It's not polite but at least I'm not saying it to their face. That's just what my parents taught me as courtesy. Heh.