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Are good manners a thing of the past?

Posted on 22 September 2017

The days of please, thank you and may I…

Back in the day, every adult seemed to be a stickler for good manners and as a kid, you were expected to do as you were told. Courtesy was a fiercely competitive issue. A child’s behaviour was seen as a reflection of their upbringing, so your mum and dad had to drill a long list of ‘dos and don’ts’ into you from an early age. Step out of line at your peril.

It's funny how much things have changed, but luckily good manners are still passed down through the generations, even if they’re not quite so strictly enforced these days…

What's the magic word?

Being polite was the mark of a good upbringing, so you were taught to mind your Ps and Qs from the word go. If you asked for something, there's no way you'd get it until you uttered the 'magic word', followed by another two - thank you.

Child handing money to a shopkeeper

You knew your place

You had to respect your elders and you did. When a grown up entered the room, you were expected to jump to your feet – and if you were in their seat, you'd soon be sent packing. Lying in front of the fire, with your chin in your hands, was the best place to be anyway.

Family sat around a fireplace and young girl seated on a cushion on the floor in the middle of them

Can Johnny come out to play?

When your friends called round, they had to wait on the doorstep and ask your mum (by her title and surname of course) if you could come out to play. If a boy was really courteous, he’d take his hat off too.

Group of boys waiting on the doorstep

Where are your table manners?

Mealtimes were serious affairs. You had to sit up straight, eat whatever was on your plate and keep those elbows off the table. Even when you’d obeyed all those rules and were itching to go back out to play, you had to ask if you could leave the table, only to be told to wait until everyone had finished. Sigh…

Family sat eating together around a dinner table

Only if you ask nicely

Starting any sentence with 'I want' was a total no no. After all, I want doesn't get (as every mum rattled off ten times a day). The trick was to wait until she was busy and not focussed on the conversation, to ask oh-so-politely for whatever it was she usually said no to.

Mother in front of the stove with daughters looking up at her

Show some respect

Policeman were both feared and revered and teachers had discipline down to a tee. When they entered the classroom, you had to stand up and chorus "Good morning sir" or "Good morning miss". There was no way you'd get away with giving them cheek. And woe betide anyone who tried.

 Child sat on a chair in corridor being told off by a teacher

Seen not heard

Mums and dads were often too busy to entertain their kids, so you were expected to keep yourself occupied and not get in the way. And if the grownups were talking, the only acceptable excuse for interrupting was to tell them the house was on fire! The rule of thumb was only to speak if you were spoken to.

Two small children sat on a sofa and looking at a picture book

Always help others

If mum saw a lady struggling with her shopping, you’d get a nudge and be pushed forward to offer your help. It may have been a struggle for you, but at least it showed everyone how well brought up you were – and mum could earn some brownie points with the neighbours.

Young boy walking down the street holding heavy shopping bags

Not until you've done your chores

Before you could go out to play, you had to do your chores. Mum had enough to do, so kids could be tasked with anything from laying the table or washing up to fetching the coal and shining dad's shoes with a bit of spit and polish. There was no point in complaining, you wouldn't get out of doing it in a month of Sundays.

Young boy wearing an apron and washing up the dishes

The reward made it all worthwhile

The long list of rules wasn’t much fun, but the reward for complying certainly was… freedom! Playing outside, free to roam until the street lights came on and mum didn’t have a clue what you were getting up to. No mobile phones or CCTV to keep track of your every move back then. Only the neighbours, the shopkeeper, the local bobby…

Two young girls and a boy playing in the street

How do you feel about all the rules and standards you were brought up with? Are there any ‘favourites’ we’ve forgotten or any you resent to this day? We want your memories. Oops sorry. Please may we hear your memories? Thank you.

If you enjoyed this brief look back at some of the Ps and Qs drummed into us over generations, you may also enjoy these memories of 1950s family life and the values still as true today as when we were kids.

SunLife offers a range of straightforward and affordable products including over 50s life insurance, funeral plans, life insurance, pet insurance, home insurance, car insurance, ISAs and Will writing services.

Here's the information that you need to know about who we are and the other companies that we work with in order to provide our products and services.

Who are SunLife? 

Phoenix Life Limited trades as SunLife and is the provider of the Guaranteed Over 50 Plan, SunLife Insurance and the life insurance policy payment option for Funeral Plans. Phoenix Life Limited’s registered office is at 1 Wythall Green Way, Wythall, Birmingham, B47 6WG (registered in England, no. 1016269). Phoenix Life Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority and is entered on the Financial Services Register (registration no. 110418). As part of SunLife’s commitment to quality service and security, telephone calls may be recorded.

SunLife Limited distributes financial products and services and is a company limited by shares, registered office: 1 Wythall Green Way, Wythall, Birmingham, B47 6WG (registered in England, no. 05460862). SunLife Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and is entered on the Financial Services Register (registration no. 769427).

You can contact us by post at SunLife, PO Box 1395, Peterborough, PE2 2TR or by phone on 0800 008 6060.

If you choose to add Funeral Benefit Option to your Guaranteed Over 50 Plan the funeral services are arranged and provided by Dignity Funerals Limited. Dignity Funerals Limited is a company registered in England and Wales No. 00041598. VAT registered No. 486 6081 14. 4 King Edwards Court, King Edwards Square, Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, B73 6AP. Telephone No. 0121 354 1557. Fax No. 0121 355 808. Part of Dignity plc. A British Company. Dignity are not regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority or the Prudential Regulation Authority but are registered providers with the Funeral Planning Authority.

Who provides the Funeral Plans?

The funeral services are arranged by a funeral director selected by Golden Charter Ltd. Golden Charter Ltd are not required to be authorised or regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority or the Prudential Regulation Authority in relation to funeral plans but are registered providers with the Funeral Planning Authority.

If you choose to pay for your funeral in one go, with a single payment, you will have a contract with Golden Charter. The funeral services will be arranged by a funeral director selected by Golden Charter Ltd.

If you choose to pay for your funeral with a life insurance policy, the policy will be provided by Phoenix Life Limited, trading as SunLife. The funeral services will be arranged by a funeral director selected by Golden Charter Ltd.

Who provides My Smarter (ISA)?

My Smarter (ISA) is provided by Scottish Friendly Asset Managers Limited. Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Details can be found on the Financial Services register, registration No. 188832. Member of The Investment Association. Registered Office: Scottish Friendly House, 16 Blythswood Square, Glasgow G2 4HJ.

Who provides the Will writing services?

Hugh James is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA Number:303202).

The information contained on this website is based on Hugh James' understanding of the law of intestacy in England and Wales only as at April 2014. The law in Scotland and Northern Ireland is significantly different. This is for information purposes and is not intended to be legal advice.

Who provides Family Life Insurance?

SunLife Family Life Insurance is provided by Scottish Friendly Assurance Society Limited which is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Details can be found on the Financial Services register (registration number 110002). Registered Office: Scottish Friendly House, 16 Blythswood Square, Glasgow G2 4HJ. 

Who provides SunLife Pet Insurance

SunLife Pet Insurance is arranged and administered by BDML Connect Limited. BDML Connect Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (No. 309140). Registered in England and Wales Number 02785540. Registered Office: 45 Westerham Road, Bessels Green, Sevenoaks, Kent, TN13 2QB.

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Who provides SunLife Car Insurance

SunLife Car Insurance is arranged and administered by BISL Limited and underwritten by a panel of insurers. BISL Limited are an intermediary authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered in England no. 03231094. Registered office Pegasus House, Bakewell Road, Orton Southgate, Peterborough PE2 6YS.