There is nothing like having a meal with friends to see the gaping holes in your kids manners. Several years ago (this is based on an old blog post long dead in the archives) we had friends from the past call in for dinner – they were a family I went to Bible College with – and as we caught up as if the years didn’t matter I became aware of a few little things the kids did that pricked my awareness – we need to work on our manners!
Later that week, on Sunday morning I spoke to the children about dinner conversation and staying at the table till the meal is over, even if you aren’t involved in the conversation. Manners need to be practiced at home so that when we need “social” manners they come naturally. Working on table conversation is a bit tricky as we often eat our evening meal without Peter which means conversation centers around the children. But the benefit of being intentional with this is that we can make the point of having conversation, when he is at the table, that the children need to sit and listen to. The other aspect of conversation we touched on was silliness – though I like the fun and laughter we have at the meal table I want my children to be able to know when they’ve reached the line, and when they need to stop. I also want them to be able to have serious conversation with each other.
Manners affect how we speak and how we act in any situation, with any person. Manners reflect our heart; they affect the people around us and our relationship with them. Once we have a heart to respect and consider the other person our manners are transferable to most situations.
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Top 10 Manners to teach our children
- Please, thank you, may I
- Interrupting others, waiting patiently
- Speak kind words
- Share, take turns, let others go first
- Greetings and Goodbyes
- Clean up after yourself
- Consider the other person’s needs/feelings
- Accept compliments graciously
- Serve, help others
- Listen to others
These top 10 principles will then guide and direct your words and actions in any given social situation. Remember it is our heart that needs to be trained first, then these expressions of our love for others. Whenever we teach these behaviours to our children we must remember to teach them why they are important. We greet others because they are special and we need to recognize them. We speak kind words, because love does not hurt, and we love the other person. We wait patiently because what the other person is saying is important and we respect that.
We must always base our instruction on the understanding of why this is so important.
Love is Not Rude1 Corinthians 13:5