Really must stop reading the paper over the shoulder of fellow commuters on my way into work. Not just because people get upset when they realise what you’re doing but mostly because I find myself reading things I’d usually cross the road to avoid.
I read in the Telegraph one parent’s use of an etiquette expert to stop her children being “narcissists who eat like Alsatians”. It wasn’t the use of an etiquette expert that shocked me, more that she had got to the stage where her children had no table manners and could just snatch food at will. And these weren’t toddlers. The youngest is 4 and the eldest 9.
I am probably being horribly middle class about this but there is no way I would allow my children to act like that at home, let alone in public.
Admittedly the girls are still young but at 2 and three and a half they have to sit nicely at the table. Admittedly they don’t have to sit there whilst parents linger over a meal but they are expected to eat nicely and to be polite. Bigger has to use a knife and fork and both have to use spoons where they can. Yes we have done baby led weaning so their preference is for fingers but they know that spoons are for porridge and fingers for toast. They are also expected to say please and thank you, wait for the other to finish before saying thank you for their meal and asking to get down. Nicely.
Am I alone in this?
Surely table manners are incredibly important.
I can still remember watching a junior colleague eat lunch, his mouth wide open, elbows on the table whilst pointing his knife at someone – he may have let his guard down momentarily and actually had good manners deep down but I made a mental note to not let him eat infront of anyone important just in case.
Perhaps etiquette experts are not the answer, perhaps the answer is far simpler. Maybe we need to accept that table manners are learnt every single day in the heart of a family. And if we don’t show by example, our children don’t stand a chance of learning how to do things properly.
Yes mealtimes can be battlegrounds but don’t we owe it to our children to teach them, ourselves, how to behave properly?