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April 21, 2014

Andrew Silow-Carroll: Passoverkill? Suggestions to make next year's seders even more culturally sensitive

Sara Israelsen Hartley: Seeking the Divine: An ancient connection in a new context

Christine M. Flowers: Priest's execution in Syria should be call to action

Courtnie Erickson: How to help kids accept the poor decisions of others

Lizette Borreli: A Glass Of Milk A Day Keeps Knee Arthritis At Bay

Lizette Borreli: 5 Health Conditions Your Breath Knows Before You Do

The Kosher Gourmet by Betty Rosbottom Coconut Walnut Bars' golden brown morsels are a beautifully balanced delectable delight

April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Nov. 10, 2005 / 8 Mar-Cheshvan, 5766

High-tech world with little real connection

By Marybeth Hicks



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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | "What is that hanging from your ear?" I ask. Glancing into the rearview mirror, I can see only the right edge of my daughter's face and a thin, gray wire hanging in her hair. But of course, I'm not really asking, "What is it?"

I'm asking, "Why is an ear-bud headphone in one ear while you are engaged in conversation with other human beings?" "I can hear you perfectly, Mom," my daughter answers defensively. She can see where this is going.

Whether she can hear me perfectly is not my issue. This is not a long car trip on which I permit my children to plug into their personal music devices to pass the time. It's a 10-minute drive to the doctor's office for flu shots, offering us a chance to catch up about the busy school day and get a handle on the homework load for the evening.

"I may not have mentioned this before, but wandering around the planet with an ear bud in your head is rude," I say. "I know kids do it all the time, but it's bad manners unless you're alone and you don't expect to talk to people."

"Good point," she says as she stuffs the cord in her pocket. "Besides, I don't really know how my friends do this. I keep thinking I'm going to answer your questions by repeating the song lyrics."

In today's culture of "cool," a single ear-bud headphone placed in one ear is typical for teens. This leaves the other ear open to take cell-phone calls. Really cool teens even have personal digital assistants — PDAs — to connect to the Internet and e-mail no matter where they go.

All of this technology is designed for communication. Teens keep in touch with instant messages, text messages, voice messages and photo messages. They even have developed code languages to help them transmit information quickly, without using actual words (LOL — laugh out loud).

However, if the conversations I hear between my children and their friends are any indication, all this technology may be robbing some young people of the ability to talk. What we've gained in immediacy we've lost in polite conversation.

Case in point: One day last summer, my daughter invited a friend to spend the afternoon at our house. We drove to her home to pick her up, and when she climbed into the car, my daughter initiated a friendly conversation.

"How's your summer going?"

"Fine." (Not, "Fine, how about yours?" Just "fine.")

"What have you been doing?" she tried again.

"Nothing." (Not, "Nothing. What about you?" Just "nothing.")

"Do you have anything fun planned?" I had to give my daughter credit. She wasn't giving up.

"No." (Not "No, but stop asking me so many stupid questions," though that's what it sounded like from the driver's seat.)

Clearly, it was going to be a long day. Sure enough, after several attempts to engage in activities that would require the polite participation of her guest (board games, a bike ride, baking brownies), my daughter suggested they watch a movie. Who could blame her? It's hard to spend a whole day with someone who doesn't talk.

If conversational skills among young peers are on the decline, getting children to talk to an adult is like cracking a bank vault.

Not long ago, my son invited a new friend to play at our house for the first time. Because I didn't know him, I tried to talk to him while making the boys' lunch. I asked how he likes school, inquired about his favorite classes and teachers and what sports he likes best. To every question, he replied, "I don't know" while staring blankly at my kitchen floor.

Now, I realize it's not always comfortable for a 12-year-old boy to chat amiably with the mother of his friend, but I wasn't asking deeply personal questions that would put him in the conversational hot seat.

The sad reality is, I don't think anyone has taught this boy how to engage in polite conversation. Unfortunately, his rude behavior convinced me he's not a child I want hanging around our house. He hasn't been back since then.

Loads of great books and Web sites are available to help parents teach rules of etiquette — so many that it may seem like a daunting task. We have simplified this effort in our house by remembering that all manners are about making other people feel respected and comfortable — about putting the feelings of others ahead of ourselves.

Not that there aren't a few rules worth passing along, such as to look at the person speaking to you; answer a question politely; demonstrate respect for adults in conversation; say "please," "thank you" and "excuse me." Even a 5-year-old can master the basics if parents take the time to teach and practice polite behavior.

Then again, once these fundamentals are well-learned, you can tackle the more advanced rules for participating in polite society — rules that include: "Take that silly ear bud out of your ear while I'm speaking to you. Please."

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JWR contributor Marybeth Hicks, a wife of 18 years and mother of four children, lives in the Midwest. She uses her column to share her perspective on issues and experiences that shape families nationwide. To comment, please click here.


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© 2005, Marybeth Hicks