Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Uber-Importance of Table Manners

{In a final assignment for school, my 15yo was to write 300 to 500 words on the subject of table manners. To have a little fun and to encourage her, I challenged her to see who could get 500 words first. Of course, the contest was unfair because I can type at about 90 words per minute and she was hand-writing her composition. But she was a good sport and found it entertaining. I thought I’d share my largely unedited composition here.}

Table manners are crucial to the well-being of a family and their time at the supper table. When I was a child, my brother kept insects in a jar at the table. He also kept piles of gross, used-up gum on ceramic gum-keepers that my mother bought for him. I didn’t have to sit next to him, which was a blessing, but all children ought to be discouraged from keeping collections of any kind at the family supper table. What would have happened if his pet spider had escaped the confines of the glass jar? Screeches and screams and scattering would have ensued, pandemonium all over the room. And that would have just been from me.

Now that I am a mother, the family table is the best part of our day. It’s a time when we all sit down together, block out distractions, and connect, building further our relationships. A lot of good food also helps the eagerness for this special togetherness time.

So much of our cohesiveness relies on manners, though. I don’t see how we could have any reasonable conversation if a child was throwing food, chomping with an open mouth like a cow with its cud, or making demands to the detriment of everyone else at the table.

So what is acceptable at our family table?

Genteel discussion of the day
We ask each other questions. What was the best part of your day? What good thing happened to you today? What can you thank God for? What was the low point of your day and why?
We offer each other praise and encouragement.
We joke.
Politeness – Please and thank you, yes ma’am and no sir.
Serving – When someone asks for something, whether it be a dish or a napkin or the salt or pepper, we pass it to that person first and then ask for it back if we need it. As needed, the Bigs help the Littles that sit next to them.
Helpfulness – Does your little brother need cleaned up? Do it. Is another serving utensil needed? Go get it. Are the dishes ready to be washed? Roll up your sleeves and stick your hands in the suds with me.

It’s easy to let instruction on table manners slide. I’m a busy mom, and I’m usually tired by the time we get supper on the table. But a quick glance into the future assures me that I must persist. What about when my family dines with friends? I want him to be well-mannered. What about that day when my daughter dines with a suitor’s family? I want her to be well-mannered. What about when my adult son is invited to a job interview over lunch? I want him to be well-mannered.

Efforts to train today will pay off over and over and over tomorrow. J

What good behaviors do you encourage at your family table?

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  1. This is definitely a great reminder. I love the idea of sharing a meal as a family around the dinner table, and I think that these traits become huge when kids move out and move on with their own lives. Thanks for sharing!

    1. It really is one of the best ways to connect, isn't it? You have to eat anyway, so why not build relationships at the same time? Thanks, Kelsie. Have a terrific weekend! :-)

  2. So good, Meghan, and so needed. I read where Dr. Dobson told his kids that when they forgot to put their napkin on their lap they would have to go in another room and count to 100. Guess who ended up counting. Dr. Dobson!

    1. Great illustration, Pamela! That's definitely another benefit to encouraging manners -- a reminder for us parents. :-)

  3. I love this post! I really want my readers to know about this too! I want to share this in my weekly series called "Roll Out The Red Carpet Thursday" - I share bloggers' amazing posts that I've found during the week. I hope that' ok! Have a great night!


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