In her letter from the editor she wrote: "I do not believe that his death marks the end of an era. Friendship, romance, kindness, manners: These are not qualities or habits bound by decades or generations." Vogue Magazine, December 2014.
These words made me wonder; do the very qualities she spoke of actually have a chance of transcending from my mother's generation to that of my children's? And if so, how do we, as today's parents, value and teach our children the very behaviors she spoke of?
Living a life where manners are introduced and practiced early on, where friendships are outwardly valued and kindness is regularly demonstrated can be a challenging responsibility for any adult to teach. And yet, isn't that very job a big part of being a parent? If we don't embrace those qualities and teach them to our children, who will?
It occurred to me that if you are blessed to be in a positive relationship with your spouse, partner or family members, each of these qualities might be visualized by your kids as they witness your daily interactions. Whether it is one adult opening the door for another, expressing gratitude or offering to help out; evidence of both kindness and friendship can be seen. The simple habit of pulling out a chair for another, saying the words "thank you", waiting at the dinner table until everyone is served or answering a sneeze with the words, "Bless you" demonstrates manners. And romance? Seeing an adult hug, hold hands or stand by another when troubles come, isn’t that a sample of the "romance" that comes from being loved?
Perhaps our greatest challenge may not be in actually practicing these actions but rather in regularly talking about the importance of these qualities. Helping our kids to "see" how friendship, romance, kindness and manners are valued, embraced and demonstrated will assure that our children are capable of turning those desired qualities into habits. This might just be the key to making sure that future generations hold on to the same traits that Oscar de la Renta, and others of past and present generations, recognize as valuable.