I grew up with a brother who was less than two years younger than me. We were raised by our hard working, single mother, along with equally hard working grandparents. I never really remember being taught “manners.” We kinda just learned as we went along. My brother and I were the worst when it came to table manners while at home. We spent the majority of the time trying to entertain each other with constant toots, belches and jokes. We spoke with our mouths full of food and our elbows on the table.
As we grew older, our mom remarried and our baby sister came along. We began to eat out more. This is when we began to learn how to act more appropriately while around others. Still, I don’t remember being given any speech about manners, just being threatened after we did something inappropriate in public.
Now, here I am, an adult father of three . . . and in charge of teaching my kids about manners. My oldest daughter, now 15, does a great job at home and in public. I couldn’t be more proud of the young lady we have raised. I really don’t think I can take much of the credit; she just gets it.
My boys, on the other hand, are a work in progress. My fourteen-year-old makes conversation at the table as if he is trying to speak to a room of 200. I’m constantly trying to get him to bring his voice down. Rather than cut a steak or chicken breast with a fork and knife, he prefers to pick up the slab of meat with his fork and gnaw on it like a caveman. When he does attempt to cut something, he ends up sawing at it while other items on the plate go flying everywhere.
My soon to be eight-year-old is a complete mess at home, but somehow pulls it together when in public. At home, he spills a beverage at least once a week. When he puts something in his mouth he doesn’t like the taste or texture of, it almost immediately comes right back out onto his plate. Both of my boys love to burp and fart, and I get it. My brother and I acted the same when we were young. I constantly point out to them, if they were to do these things in public, it would be inappropriate and they would get in trouble.
For the most part, I allow them to be comfortable and free to be themselves at home, with the understanding they are to be respectful in public, or in other homes. Our only rules at dinner time at home are no TV or device use.
Fortunately, so far, there have been no complaints, and I’ve actually had people compliment me on how well behaved they are. My children have seen other kids act out in a public setting, and understood how wrong and ridiculous those kids looked. I think I’ve just been blessed with kiddos that get it, and I’m very thankful for that.