My Mom believed in manners. Every day of my life I heard:
“Respect your Elders.”
“Speak when spoken to.”
“You are only as good as your word.’”
They were important lessons for me. I taught them to my children. Now my children are teaching them to their children. -Probably not nearly as efficiently as their Great Grandmother did!
The elegance of those Victorian rules was important to our family. When called to the table, we stood behind our chairs until the hostess was seated. Then everyone was seated. We put our napkins on our laps. No one touched a fork until the matriarch took the first bite.
Today we stand at the counter for dinner. There is no formality.
We need to go back. Maybe not as far as Victorian manners would take us, but at least to embrace the family around the table. I’ve found that giving a child a mealtime chore creates a sense of responsibility. It makes him cognizant of the fact that he’s helping support a family unit. He’s contributing to dinner around the table. Nurturing that responsibility and expecting good manners are part of every visit to Gigi’s home. When the grandchildren arrive, they know exactly what the rules are. They are taught at a very, very early age.
We know children are great mimics. They copy everything we do. Therefore our behavior – especially at the dinner table, is imperative. Show them how to place the napkin in their laps. Then, praise them. Raise their self-esteem and it will keep the lesson firmly in their memory.
Well, maybe you’ll need to remind them a few times!!