Most parents intend to raise perfectly polished, well-mannered children — just like you see in all those movies about Victorian England.
But sometimes life gets in the way, and you’re just too busy or exhausted to remind little Johnny to chew his hamburger with his mouth closed, for goodness sake.
“Everybody’s so stressed out today,” said Barbara Pachter, a business-etiquette expert and the author of “The Communication Clinic.” “If you can get everybody at the table for dinner, it’s an accomplishment. Sometimes some of this stuff just falls by the wayside.”
We asked Pachter and Daniel Post Senning, the author of “Manners in a Digital World” and the great-great-grandson of Emily Post, to tell us about the seemingly old-fashioned manners that today’s parents might be forgetting about.
Don’t feel ashamed if you haven’t made these a priority for your kids — by adopting them yourself, you can still act as a role model.
Saying ‘you’re welcome’
Most parents teach their kids to say “please” and “thank you.” But learning to say “you’re welcome” is just as important.
Here’s Senning: “It’s not always about minimizing the thanks — ‘it was no problem,’ ‘it’s nothing,’ ‘it was no trouble.’ And it’s not about trumping the thanks — ‘oh, no, no, thank you.’ It’s really important to receive thanks well also and it’s okay to say, ‘you’re welcome; it was my pleasure.'”
Senning said: “When you receive someone’s gratitude well, you participate in their happiness.”
Making eye contact
Instagram can wait.
“If you’re talking to somebody, you need to look at them,” Pachter said. “Regardless of whether you have your phone or not. And if you have your phone, then you definitely need to put the phone down and look at people.”
Saying ‘excuse me’
“We will make mistakes; accidents will happen,” Senning said. “How we handle them says as much or maybe more about us than how we handle our successes.”
Parents should teach their kids to use these words whenever they’re guilty of a breach of etiquette — like leaving the table in the middle of dinner.
“You can really transform what would otherwise be a rude or impolite act into a chance to show some courtesy,” Senning added.