Back in the Day: Manners and Ethics of Past Generations

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My paternal grandparents

Back in the day my grandparents valued social manners and wholesome ethics. 

My paternal grandfather passed away before I knew him. But raised near the apron strings of my grandmothers and the worn work boots of my maternal grandfather, I learned from their generation.

Because a phrase I heard from each of them started with this…

“Back in the day.”

Back in the Day: Stories Told

Albeit, the phrase makes us think of treacherous, uncivilized stories. Narratives of walking uphill both ways to school for long distances and sometimes in knee-high snow. And tight funds meant an orange became a Christmas gift—the kind you eat, not an orange dump truck or an orange dress.

Also, televisions were scarce and not scattered in every room as a commonplace fixture many of us have grown accustomed to. What about cable access to 100’s of channels? No, not that either. So the entire family went to the living room to watch one of two choices of shows—together and without a remote.

What my Grandmother Clarkston called “ungodly” started appearing on her television. She often said, “What’s the world coming to?” Oh, my. She’s no longer alive to see the God-forsaken viewing material channeled into our homes. Can I get a witness?


And back in the day, children and teens rose before daylight to do chores. This became a pattern in their adult lives—you get up early to work—either at home or at a work place. My grandparents never questioned the team concept. If you lived under a roof, you helped with whatever needed to be done.

My Grandmother Maxfield relayed how she relished every second of play time in childhood. You see, she assisted in cooking without microwaves, fancy appliances or pre-packaged meals. And restaurant curb-side takeaway didn’t exist. She washed dishes by hand. They sat down at a table for meals and talked to each other. What a revolutionary idea!

Back in the Day: A Simpler Life

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My maternal grandparents

But to our kids and grandkids—perhaps to us—a simpler life without modern conveniences seems appalling. And life before the digital age defines a suppressed culture lacking entitlement and individual rights. We imagine it as boring with stifled creativity.

Listen, friends. Back-in-the-day generations were thankful for what they had and grateful for their family and life. For every piece of their time period and history that seems ghastly to us, there’s a counterpart of integrity and deep character weaved through the chapters of their stories. Yet, when times were hard, they pulled together in the spirit of family and community.

My grandparents often noted. “Back in the day, boys and girls learned social manners, certain etiquette and ethics were expected.” And my grandparents instilled many of those values in me. They taught me to be respectful. Along with my siblings, we learned to be kind, share, and contribute to chores around our home.  We knew one day we would not only get jobs, but also contribute to society.

But while I enjoy the digital world now, honestly, I’m thankful computers and smart phones didn’t define my childhood. Or the vast selection of mind-less and spirit-less television programming made available in present day.

Because my siblings and I enjoyed playing outside. We read books we held in our hands and turned real pages with our fingers—still my favorite way to read. We entertained ourselves by being creative and imaginative.

Back in the Day: Manners and Ethics

Is it me or does our current culture mass produce kids and adults without wholesome ethics and who lack social manners? Is becoming a contributing member of society a dying breed? Maybe you’ve noticed how being rude and crude is both popular in public and on social media. A lack of manners mimicked in the shows and videos we watch.

[bctt tweet=”Will goodness, kindness, and common courtesy become things of the past? #blog #morals” username=”inspireafire”]

I fear we swung the pendulum so far in the name of modern and innovative progress, we let the good and wholesome ethics of our pedigree fall from our family trees.

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Me with my paternal grandmother in the 90’s

Why are we appalled at the lack of moral compass in our day? Maybe it’s the backlash of letting the grand parts of our ancestor’s generations slip away from us.

How do we deal with a changing culture as families and believers? The prophet Micah tells us, back in the day:

“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”  (Micah 6:8, NIV)

As Christ-followers, let’s set the bar high in an ever-changing culture.

[bctt tweet=”The #Bible is still applicable for our day and gives us the antidote for godly living. #blog” username=”inspireafire”]

Featured image from left to right: my paternal grandparents, my maternal grandparents, my father with his mother.

Image designs and layouts by Adobe Spark.

Karen Friday

Whether the spoken or written word, Karen thrives in moving an audience to experience laughter, tears, surprise, and deep reflection. She not only possesses an affection for words (just ask her family), but she also cherishes God’s Word. Karen is an award-winning writer who has published both devotions and articles with a mission to know Jesus more and make Him known. She contributes to several national sites while she works on her first non-fiction book. In the blogging world, she is referred to as “Girl Friday” where she shares a central message: you are never far from hope. And she considers her life as a pastor’s wife and women’s ministry leader a sacred calling. Karen and her husband Mike reside in East Tennessee and have two grown children and two grandchildren. The entire family is fond of the expression, “TGIF: Thank God it’s Friday.” They owe Monday an apology. Connect with her blog community, Hope is Among Us.

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  1. What a wonderful article!! I enjoyed every word. May God continue to bless you. You have such a gift, that you are using for God’s glory!

    1. Thanks so much, Paula. So sorry for the delayed response. I pray we let God’s Holy Word instruct us in how we conduct ourselves and setting the bar high in integrity. Blessings and hugs!

  2. Great article, and I believe it’s true. Manners and moral values don’t seem to be taught anymore. It seems we now have a generation of parents who themselves lack a moral compass, and are unable to teach their children by their own example and words, the basic values that every human being should live by.

    1. Mary, thank you for commenting! Yes, I agree, your words ring true in my heart. We have let the good and wholesome ethics of our pedigree fall from our family trees. Let’s pray for the present generation to get back to a healthy moral compass and that we model what that looks like through God’s Word. Blessings!

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