Most parents intend to raise perfectly polished, well-mannered children — just like you see in all those movies about Victorian England.
But sometimes life gets in the way, and you’re just too busy or exhausted to remind little Johnny to chew his hamburger with his mouth closed, for goodness sake.
“Everybody’s so stressed out today,” said Barbara Pachter, a business-etiquette expert and the author of “The Communication Clinic.” “If you can get everybody at the table for dinner, it’s an accomplishment. Sometimes some of this stuff just falls by the wayside.”
We asked Pachter and Daniel Post Senning, the author of “Manners in a Digital World” and the great-great-grandson of Emily Post, to tell us about the seemingly old-fashioned manners that today’s parents might be forgetting about.
Don’t feel ashamed if you haven’t made these a priority for your kids — by adopting them yourself, you can still act as a role model.
Most parents teach their kids to say 'please' and 'thank you.' But learning to say 'you're welcome' is just as important.
Here's Senning: 'It's not always about minimising the thanks -- 'it was no problem,' 'it's nothing,' 'it was no trouble.' And it's not about trumping the thanks -- 'oh, no, no, thank you.' It's really important to receive thanks well also and it's ok to say, 'you're welcome; it was my pleasure.''
Senning said: 'When you receive someone's gratitude well, you participate in their happiness.'
Instagram can wait.
'If you're talking to somebody, you need to look at them,' Pachter said. 'Regardless of whether you have your phone or not. And if you have your phone, then you definitely need to put the phone down and look at people.'
'We will make mistakes; accidents will happen,' Senning said. 'How we handle them says as much or maybe more about us than how we handle our successes.'
Parents should teach their kids to use these words whenever they're guilty of a breach of etiquette -- like leaving the table in the middle of dinner.
'You can really transform what would otherwise be a rude or impolite act into a chance to show some courtesy,' Senning added.
You might not have your kids send their aunt a handwritten card thanking her for the ugly (er -- lovely) holiday sweaters she gifted them.
'Just because you can do it now in an email, you can still do it,' Pachter said. 'It's really quick and easy -- it doesn't have to be a lot.'
And once your kids enter the business world, this skill will come in really handy.
Pachter sees a lot of parents forgetting to teach their kids this rule of etiquette.
'Women especially were taught that they didn't necessarily need to stand, but you do need to stand.'
'Parents should be teaching their kids (table manners) so that when (the kids) go out to dinner at work, they aren't paralysed because they don't know what fork to use,' Pachter said.
Those manners include chewing with your mouth closed and not using your shirt as a napkin (the horror!).
These days, most casual invitations come via email or social media -- making it easy for your kid to respond with a 'maybe' or to not respond at all.
This is pretty rude to their host.
'The most difficult thing for a host to manage on a guest list is a question mark,' Senning said. 'It's ok to say yes; it's ok to say no, but it's better to say something than to just ignore it or not respond.'
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