Ten Things You Can Do

We all want our families–notice I did not say “children”–to have good manners and be respectful.  We work diligently to instill good manners to our children and are quick to chide our significant other when he/she strays from the realms of the mannerly.  I’m often asked what I think are some helpful things we can do at home to encourage good manners.  Everyone has their own idea–here are a few of  mine:

  1. Practice what you preach. Say please and thank you to your spouse and children.  Keep your elbows and arms off the table, chew with your mouth closed and use your napkin.  Turn the TV off at dinner time and don’t answer your phone, text or receive a text when you are having a meal or a conversation with a family member.  A little respect for each other goes a long way.
  2. Have as many meals as possible together each week. It doesn’t have to be much but you should set the table and sit down together–30-45 minutes over a meal can provide time to catch up on the week’s happenings, re-connect and of course, practice table manners.  Maybe the family can share in the meal preparation.  If not, someone can at least set the table (reinforcing where the fork and spoon go) or help clear the dishes after the meal.  Find a way–it all counts.
  3. Be a good guest. Make sure that you and your family members always respond to an invitation as soon as possible.  This does not mean “as soon as you are sure there’s not a better offer”-it means within a couple of days.  And show up, please.  Be prompt in arriving–and prompt in leaving.  Pick up after yourself.  Be respectful of your hosts’ home and traditions.  Dress appropriately, even for a casual get together.  And don’t forget the thank you note–you will be invited back for an encore!
  4. Try not to interrupt family members when they are speaking even when you think you have something important to say. Try this:  In a social situation (at home or otherwise), pay attention when someone interrupts you or another speaker (it won’t take long to find an example).  How many times does the conversation take a completely different path and never get back to the original thought, even when the original speaker tries to get back to his/her point?  We are all guilty. It happens so often we often don’t even notice.  Rude?  Yes.  Disrespectful? Yes.  Courteous and mannerly?  You decide.
  5. Pay each other compliments.

OK, that’s only five things–take the extra five minutes it would have taken to read five more tips and pay someone a compliment.  More later!

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