Thursday, 25 July 2013

Where Have Manners and Formalities Gone?

One of my favorite guilty pleasures this summer is watching the PBS series, Downton Abby, on my ipad.  I can’t wait to get the kids into bed at night so I can settle in and watch what will happen next to the Crawleys and their ever-loyal servants.  This brought to the front of my mind something that has bothered me for a long time…manners and formalities.  I know that times are changing and have been for a long time.  But I miss the everyday manners and formalities.  I remember the days when you got dressed for church, to go on an airplane or to have dinner at a friend’s home.  Gone are the times when you wouldn’t even think of addressing an adult without the proper title Mr. or Mrs.   Please don’t even get me started on table manners…well how many of us sit down at the table these days and actually eat as a family?

I am a big offender myself in the clothing department.  There are many times in the summer my kids will go days without wearing shoes and I am embarrassed to say that we went to church in gym clothes and bathing suits last week!  In my head, I was thinking it was better to be there in that state then not at all.

So the question is how do we bring these manners and formalities back?

My mother gave me a book recently called, 365 Manners Kids Should Know by Sheryl Eberly.  This is a great book because it gives one lesson a day.  Ideally, you would start on January 1 but I feel you can pick the book up on any date and begin.  According to this book,

A three-year-old should:

  • Establish eye contact when speaking to another.
  • Say Hello.
  • Wash hands before and after a meal.
  • Stay seated during the meal.
  • Use utensils at the table.
  • Say “please” and “thank you”

A ten-year-old should:

  • Be able to hold a conversation with an adult.
  • Use good table manners.
  • Answer the telephone properly and take careful messages.
  • Show self-control in public places.
  • Take responsibility for keeping the bedroom neat.
  • Know how to be on time.

As parents we have to hold hard and true to what we expect as far as manners from our children.  We can make no exceptions.  We should not allow ourselves to be influenced against our beliefs by society or friends.  When I was growing up, I remember my mother saying, “I want you to be prepared to visit with the Queen of England or the President of the United States.”  And I shall teach my children the same.

What manners are important to you and how do you teach your children?