Well, when I saw the opportunity to work with SocialMoms again, I was thrilled! And I love the subject this time! You see, etiquette at the table is one of my biggest pet peeves :) Ask any member of my family, or any of my friends, and they'll tell you-make sure you use proper table manners if you're eating near Hope! Being raised in a large family, I often found myself instructing my younger siblings. So, I'll share a couple of my biggest concerns when it comes to dining.
First of all, one of the most irritating things I have ever seen is people who chew with their mouth open! I CAN NOT stand eating near them! So, I always teach the children to chew quietly, and make sure their mouth is closed. Don't talk if you still have food in your mouth, either! I'm not sure why, but it just seems so unmannerly to see people talking while chewing, or just chewing open-mouthed. I am pleased to say that we have not had to deal with this since the youngest was a couple years old. Thankfully, I drilled it into them so much and so often, it became quite natural to chew in a nice, mannerly fashion.
A close second "biggie" would be having your elbows on the table while dining. We have a saying in our family that gets used quite a lot, and helps the children remember to keep their elbows off. "Keep your elbows off the table; this is not a horse's stable, it's a decent dining table"! (Not sure what elbows on the table has to do with a horse stable, but...at least it helps everyone remember to be polite and mannered!).
Another issue we have dealt with is reaching across the table over someone's plate. A big no-no! And yet, how many times do they see a waiter or waitress do it, without so much as a "Pardon my reach"? I know there is a difference in the situations, but still. So, early on we trained the children that if you need something across the table, or would like the salt, but it is on your neighbor's far side-don't reach! Politely ask "May I please have the salt?" or, "Could you please pass me the butter?". This one took a little bit longer to get everyone accustomed to, but it has really paid off. We often get comments about table manners (and yes, everyone points to me and says it is my fault).
Lastly, yet another big issue, is that we NEVER sit down to dinner while watching tv or a video, and there are no computers, iPods, etc. at the table. No texting is allowed, and only the very important phone calls are allowed to interrupt our family meal time. It is important to have just that small amount of time together with no distractions, and no interruptions. It is a great time to talk together, catch up on what is going on with everyone, and just have some fun as a family!
So, while table manners may seem like a small matter, in my eyes, at least, they are a very important part of training. After all, who wants to eat with someone who talks while chewing, leans on the table, and has no qualms about reaching over your plate? Definitely not me, and I plan to keep instructing the children about proper dining etiquette! If you have any ideas, or any other hints for teaching children to eat mannerly, PLEASE share them with me!!
I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Kraft Homestyle Macaroni and Cheese blogging program, for a gift card worth $50. For more information on how you can participate, click here.