Today there is tons of information both in book form and on the Internet addressing business etiquette and how to behave at that all important power lunch. Unfortunately, table manners used at home have all but disappeared. Families are moving through their day at such a fast pace that table manners have become almost an inconvenience. Why eat with a fork when Spanish Tapas, Wing Dings, Pizza, and soup you can literally drink from the bottle are “all the craze.”
What happen to sitting down to a nutritious meal and enjoying the fellowship of your family and friends. Are we doomed to continue living the life of fast food and fast health food junkies. Does eating healthier mean we still don’t have time to stop and smell the cilantro in the salad? When did it become fashionable to eat in public and walk around with a mocha caramel chocolate espresso super chai extravaganza in your hand while shopping in the mall. We need to back up and remember our children are watching our every move. So when they run in with a can of “Red Bull” (an energy drink ladened with caffeine) and swat you off like a fly on the wall, don’t complain; it is you who must teach them to slow down and take time to enjoy life’s little pleasures.
How do you start? Here are 10 suggestions for creating family rules regarding manners at home and at the dining table:
1. When dining at a friend or family members’ home, always arrive on time, they really don’t have to wait more than 15 minutes for you before serving dinner.
2. Always use a napkin. Don’t assume that your mouth is large enough to catch every crumb, it’s not.
3. Learn to use a knife and a fork, they go together for a reason.
4. Always say “Please” and “Thank You.” Really!
5. Bacon can be eaten with the fingers or a fork. The next time you grim someone eating their bacon with their fingers, know that it’s prim and proper.
6. Sandwiches should be cut in half and eaten from the fingers. Parents remember at fast food restaurants or any restaurant, ask the cook to cut sandwiches in half or quarter them, it really makes life better for your little one.
7. When food accidents happen, and they will, a simple apology is best. It is not necessary to embarrass your children or others involved in the incident. This is one time when “less is truly more.”
8. Everyone in your family should make a point of practicing good table manners. Remind your family members that when they are out and about, they are a representation of the type of home they come from…so represent well.
9. Always follow up a formal or informal dining experience with a thank note. This can be in the form of a phone call, fax, email or Hallmark.
10. Parents should document special dining engagements and write down family traditions. Is there a special prayer that is always recited at Thanksgiving? Does Grandma ask a special questions during the family New Year Celebration? Don’t have a special dining tradition? Start one. There is no better time than the present.