It really doesn’t take much to say, and really shouldn’t be hard to remember, yet time and time again I sounds like a broken record repeating “Did you remember to say thank you?” whenever my kids accept a lift or play date. From toddlers up we start on the “say ta” or “say please” and “what’s the magic word?” Yet to children it clearly has no meaning as it takes years before it comes naturally. (I hope I am correct here and it’s not just mine!) I can truthfully say that only now can I trust my age 9+ children and still have to prompt the triplets sometimes (age 7).
Do manners really matter?
I guess this is a personal thing but I do feel they are important. I have to bite my tongue if children visit us and continually forget to say please. I have caught myself before now saying “was that “yes please Fiona?”” For me it is all tied up with respect, especially for older family members like grandparents and Aunts and Uncles, but even amongst my own children I find myself correcting them for being rude to one another. In my own childhood I was definitely at home with the ultimate Mummy and Daddy manners police and from those times I can sympathise with the emotions of children, the feeling of “what’s the big fuss, why are b***** manners SO important anyway?” I try to explain to my children why I want them to have an acceptable level of manners, how it helps their social interaction, encourages others to respond favourably to their requests and opens up more opportunities for them to do the things they enjoy when other people providing these treats feel valued and respected.
What about table manners?
I do feel I have failed here compared to my parents. They painstakingly ensured I never dared to “shovel” so much as a pea on my fork at the dinner table. Even the correct holding of cutlery was paramount. As for waving a knife in the air or speaking with my mouthful, these were a “cuff round the ear” offenses! I was an only child, so in my defence I do feel my parents had a much easier task as “The manners Police” than Nick and I . Of cause I have taught mine how to do it all properly, but actually enforcing the teachings on a daily basis is another matter altogether! Increasingly I find if the plates are clean, they sat on their bottoms and didn’t eat with their fingers or insult a sibling it counts as a successful meal!
Our Sunday Dinner Table with mixed manners!
How much is for my benefit?
I can’t deny that being told that my children were very well behaved, well mannered or such like sends a glow of pride all through my body. I am sure there are times when they are less polite, but my well mannered friends fail to report back on such occasions. Receiving positive feedback is always lovely but essentially I am not on the manners case for my own gratification but for the opportunities I believe basic manners will still open for them in life.
As a child I would never have dreamt of calling a friends’ parents by their Christian name, in fact friends parents from my child hood I still address as Mr and Mrs in my 40s because that is the respect I showed to the older generation when I was young. I know this is out of date now and only reserved for school teachers and am very happy for my children to call friends parents by their Christian name and for their friends to do the same with me. I think a little more ‘cheek’ is also acceptable now without appearing rude. There is still a line which is not to be crossed, I just belief the line has shifted a little and I am keen to ensure mine are aware of this and remain on the appropriate side.
Then on occasion I just let them enjoy!
Jed with the Sunday roast bone
Which manners do you feel are important and how do you instil them into your children?
“Tales from the farmers wife” shares life on our lovely holiday farm with Farmer Nick and our 6 children. Step into our beautiful 30 acres and experience nature close up with farming and educational crafts in stunning North Cornwall. Family, fun and adventure start here.