I recently read a New York Times article describing the challenges modern parents face when teaching their children proper etiquette and manners. Some of the challenges include a lack of knowledge and a lack of time. It's true. Most people have no idea which fork to use and when or how rude it is to have one's elbows on the table. Add in the hectic schedules most modern families are burdened with and there's no wonder kids aren't learning proper etiquette. When everyone gets home from work and school the last thing on their minds is sitting down to a formal meal to practice proper manners.
As unappealing as adding a chore like teaching etiquette seems, I think it's an excellent idea. I attended two different etiquette courses as a young girl and they paid off tremendously. If you know me personally hold your laughter. Chances are if you've dined out with me during the past three years you haven't witnessed my Emily Post approved manners.
Since becoming a mother my restaurant etiquette mostly consists of shoveling food in to my mouth as quickly as possible before the children plot a tandem meltdown. However, please believe that those classes paid off.
At the time my mother enrolled me because I was a regular contestant on the beauty pageant circuit (a post for another day) but the payoff extended far beyond that. I've found myself putting the skills I learned as a child into practice during corporate dinners early in my career and at events with dignitaries and elected officials. I'm thankful my mother was thoughtful enough to consider etiquette courses for me.
Bad manners irritate me beyond belief. Have you ever had the misfortune of dining with an ill mannered adult? No one is perfect but everyone should try their best.
Teaching kids the proper way to address adults, interact with servers, and use cutlery is the best way to ward off a generation of open mouth chewing, waiter disrespecting, finger licking weirdos.
Learning how to function properly in polite society is a rare skill possessed by few nowadays. Raising children among those few gives them a competitive edge and makes them far more pleasant to dine with. Everyone wins.
I can't think of any reason not to teach kids proper etiquette. The courses are sometimes pricey and might not fit all budgets but there are plenty of books available on the subject. Imagine if we placed as big of an emphasis on good manners as we do on kids playing sports.
Maybe girls would stop going wild? Perhaps chivalry would come back from the dead? Who knows? I could be reaching but I do know that a world filled with more thoughtful and polite people is something everyone should support. At the very least maybe we can return to a world where people actually sit down and talk to each other at meals versus burying their faces in their phones while briefly coming up for air to stuff their faces.
What do you think? Etiquette Courses For Kids. Do? Or Don't?