When I was growing up children were seen and not heard. We were left out of adult conversations, in the background. As a child, you knew your place. When we did speak, we were reminded to 'mind yer mout,' and we did. It's a phrase used by some Newfoundlanders. It reminds you to be careful of what you're saying.
In our house, Frank and I were taught not to back-answer our parents. They had the authority and we were not to rudely reply to their pronouncements. Back-answering was a serious transgression. I remember being told about it when I was young and again when I was older and testing my independence as a teenager.
I remember on the rare occasion Frank ever back-answered, thinking, uh oh, knowing that Mom or Dad would be quick to remind him as they did me. We were never punished, put on the naughty step or grounded like parents use today with their children. A word from Mom or Dad was enough. We thought twice about things we did and didn't want to disappoint our parents.
Teaching over the years
As a teacher in the 1970s, I worked with many students who had been raised the same way. Generally they respected their teachers and very few back-answered. Over the period of a thirty year career, the students changed. This had its benefits because children who were seen and not heard could become victims of abuse which some were. There were drawbacks too because respect was often lacking. If we encourage our children to question everything, we sometimes forget to teach them how to be respectful doing it. Lack of respect for teachers made the job very difficult as the years passed.
The challenge today is to teach our children how to speak up for themselves in an age appropriate and respectful manner. It is better to question appropriately, and have a voice rather than be a silent victim. Balance is the key or in the Newfoundland vernacular, mind yer mout.