Höflichkeit ist eine Zier, doch weiter kommt man ohne ihr—
Politeness is a décor, but you get farther without it.

By Robert A. Selig

Höflichkeit “Was soll nur aus ihnen werden (what has become of them)?!” is a question parents have asked themselves for millennia. If you are a parent, you almost certainly ask yourself this question about your children and about the children of others as well, especially if those parents—obvious for all the world to see!—allow behavior that you disapprove of. As your children grow up, you, and they, are confronted with a multitude of variations of this question. How do I want them to behave when they are 16, 18, 20 years old and older? What are the behavioral do’s and don’ts I would like to instill in them, to observe in their relationship with other people and the world they live in? How much of my own formulated behavioral do’s and don’ts will still be relevant when my child is the age that I am right now? How do I raise them to be höflich (polite)? Conversely, many a child is familiar with the parental sermon that begins “When I was your age . . .” and ends with the child rolling his eyes in annoyance while murmuring under his breath something like “Not again!”. As Kurt Tucholski wrote in 1931: “Old people usually forget that they were once young, or they forget that they are old, and the young will never comprehend that they can get old.” The gripe that the younger generation is rude, disrespectful, unhöflich (impolite), is one of the few gripes that seem to define, unchanged and unchangeable, generational conflict.

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