Character Development: Social Grace

Some time back, hubby and I were watching Romance of the Three Kingdoms. The novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms by Luo Guanzhong is one of the four great classical novels of Chinese literature. It is a historical embellishment of a period in Chinese history containing both elements of fiction and non-fiction.

See the Preview.

Why am I writing about it? Because I was moved by the way people kept old school values back then – values like respect, loyalty, valour, honour, and filial piety. Perhaps I’m just walking through a daze and missing it all, but there doesn’t seem to be much of those values these days. The world we live in is filled with self-entitlement, self-centeredness, and self-gratification. Everything is about me, me, me – what’s in it for me? What do I get out of it?

While such thoughts are typical for young children who are still in their egocentric phase, the sad part is that some adults still behave like this. Some of these adults behave as if they need a lesson or ten in manners and social graces. For instance, at a buffet my SIL who was holding my son’s hand to help him get food was elbowed out of the way by a man reacting as if he was in the bread line of the Great Depression. Who cares if chivalry is dead – how about a bit of common decency?

Thankfully not everyone is like that. I have been delighted by thoughtful and caring children like the boy who helped me move some queue poles at Baskin Robbins while I tried to navigate my pram through the narrow passageway. During my second pregnancy, I had enough encounters with helpful individuals to restore my faith in humankind. Unfortunately, the fact remains that there is still a large proportion of individuals out there who would fail miserably in a course on etiquette.

What are we not teaching our children that they can grow up to become adults like the man at the buffet? Is it, as Rick on Mamamia points out, because parents are shirking their responsibilities and expecting teachers to raise their children? If the teachers aren’t taking up the slack, then the kids fall through the gaps. Another argument I heard once was that because many parents feel the guilt of being away at work and end up trying to make up for it with overindulgence.

Whatever the reasons, I believe that the home environment is still one of the strongest influences on how a child behaves. Because of this, our children’s primary lessons on social grace has to begin at home. School can be a supporting environment to reinforce what is taught at home but it cannot replace the lessons from home (see: 10 Rules to Raise Terrific Kids). Additionally, ensuring that our children learn social grace will be beneficial to them in future.

Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of (a website on parenting, education, child development) and (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

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