Quick! I had some thoughts I want to remember and I need to write down!
1. Maybe the reason that nice parents end up with spoiled kids, and mean parents end up with kids that try to please the parent is the natural way.
If parents get all the pleasure of doing nice things for their kids, buying nice things, doing things for the child... the child learns that their job is to let the parents do things for them, that makes the parents happy. They learn this early on. So by the time they are 5, let alone 15, they think demanding generosity of the parents is a good thing.
On the other side of the spectrum are parents who are mean, and even abusive. Their children learn, early on, that it is the child's job to do nice things to make the parent happy.
Then you have the abusive parents who beat their children for things unrelated to the child's behavior. Lovely.
It's crazy. But that is the only explanation I can come up with for why children of abusive parents don't just hate them.
So my goal is to do something in the middle, but more toward the strict, demanding nice actions from the children. I love to do nice things for my children. I also love it when they do nice things for me. I hope that works out, you know, so that my children don't end up ingrates...
2. My job as a parent to model appropriate attitudes is more important than being polite. I read this Ask Laskas (Sp?) in the good old Readers Digest. The parent felt that the father of another family had bullying behaviors, but didn't want to cause problems with the friendship. The advice columnist put it plainly, that their relationship was secondary to their responsibility as a parent.