By Jan Pease
A chance encounter with a fellow patient made me think about manners. At the time, it was irritating to receive an unsolicited comment about me. With holidays approaching, I began to think about how we pass good manners along to our family members.
Emily Post, who gave etiquette advice long before there was an Internet, has a page on her website, www.emilypost.com, called “Table Manners for the Four to Seven Year Old.” She states that “The Golden Rule of Parenting” is: Always behave the way you want your children to behave.
She says you can expect your young children “to sit at the table with family, help set and clear the table (with assistance), participate in table conversation, use table utensils, serve and pass dishes, and chew with the mouth closed.”
She states that the relevant manners are that the child “asks to be excused, is quiet during grace, participates in conversation during the meal, uses utensils and napkin, stays at the table until done, sits up (doesn’t drape over the table), chews with mouth closed, and doesn’t talk with mouth full.”
Now, with these expectations, what can a parent do? Emily Post says, “MODEL, MODEL, MODEL, REPEAT, REPEAT, REPEAT, be patient, have meals together as a family (good for family and a great opportunity for kids to learn and practice table manners), encourage good posture at the table, pick the three most important table rules or guidelines and focus on those, practice at home for meals away from home, MODEL, MODEL, MODEL, and REPEAT, REPEAT, REPEAT.”
If this doesn’t sound like your family, you have about two weeks to help them with a few basic things. Choose what’s most important – maybe your young child doesn’t use table utensils. You may not have a four year old who can eat at Emily Post’s table, but it’s a start.
Litchfield Library has many books about manners and children, and here are a few that might help get you through the holidays. Monster Knows Table Manners, by Connie Colwell Miller, Manners Mash-up: A Goofy Guide to Good Behavior J395.122 MAN, Manners in Public, by Carrie Finn and Whoopi's Big Book of Manners, by Whoopi Goldberg.
If as an adult you need a quick manner fix, try One Minute Manners: Quick Solutions to the Most Awkward Situations You'll Ever Face at Work, by Ann Marie Sabath. Join us at Friday Story Hour this month to have some fun learning about ... manners.