Table manners - in fashion or out?
When my children were little, I thought teaching them table manners was important, - it was part of our everyday life. But looking around me sometimes I have a feeling that my emphasis on manners is not considered as important as it once was. However maybe I was wrong. I was reading the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper and found an article about parents sending their children to “classes” so they can be taught manners. The classes “The Little Etiquette Program” is aimed at children aged five to 12 and focuses on producing young ladies and gentleman who know the correct way around a butter knife, how to hold a knife and fork, what a tea pot is plus how to hold a stemmed glass (I assume so they know how to drink wine latter in life!).
Why would any parent send their child to a class, when these things should be taught everyday at home. Is it because the parents are “time poor”, don’t know traditional table manners themselves or they no longer eat dinner at the table (instead around the TV)? Or perhaps they are just too lazy as teaching a child table manners requires effect and consistency. It sadly appears we have come down to the level of contracting out our parenting responsibilities to others. Teaching a child manners starts from a very early age and continues through to adulthood, I am still providing guidance to my 22 year old son in regards to good old-fashion manner. Parents, however, should be setting the example but sadly they themselves may have no idea how to use a table napkin, coordinate the cutlery, whether elbows should be on the table or talking with food in their mouths.
Have you even been to a fast-food establishment and watched people eat – it is quite an eye-opener. It is a great way to teach your children what not to do. I can remember taking my youngest when he was little to McDonalds and he was as surprised as I was at the way people ate, in particular talking with food in their mouth and shoving as much as possible into the mouth and then trying to chew. I would say to my sons — no matter who they were eating with, whether it be with their grandparents, the Queen of England or by themselves, table manners were still important!!
Like all types of manners, it appears to be in decline. One can only imagine what the next generation of children will be like, if this generation no long sees table manners as essential. Call me old fashion but I still think it is essential.