Kids are not born with good manners. By teaching proper etiquette and setting standards for compliance, fathers can establish expectations for using good manners in our household. As children learn to conduct themselves appropriately, they start developing the conscientiousness and emotional intelligence that reinforce good attitudes and behaviors.
The Critical Importance of Consistency
Good, bad, or indifferent, children commonly rise (or fall) to expectations set by their parents. Good manners don’t happen magically, parents set the bar by proactively demanding ongoing participation. With open communication, more authoritative than authoritarian, dad can guide children to use manners in all social situations. Consistency is everything.
Good manners—with a bad attitude—are bad manners. A good attitude opens doors everywhere. A bad attitude fosters gloom and attracts doom, telling the entire universe that we DO NOT want to live in alignment with our hopes and dreams.
Flush the toilet and ALWAYS put the seat down. Remember to replace the empty toilet paper roll. Towels are designed to dry the body, not to decorate the floor; use the hamper.
Conversation & Speaking
Don’t interrupt—let people finish what they’re saying. Communication is an art form; truly engage in active listening and stay on topic. If we want to speak about something else, learn the art of segue. Speak logically; avoid profanity and uncouth language. If we curse, our words might offend some people; if we don’t curse, we won’t offend to anyone. Forego curse-adjacent words too; everyone knows what we mean when with a parallel curse; the offense stands. American author, Zig Ziglar, once said, “You cannot rise above your words. A lot of people use foul, pornographic, filthy language… all of those words paint pictures, and they reveal the internal thinking of the person inside. You cannot rise above your words.”
“Please,” “Thank you,” and “Excuse me,” should be standard operating procedure. Otherwise, fathers should intervene with coaching and expectation setting. Teach that eye contact is an important part of a handshake and that extending a limp, dead fish hand is unacceptable. Hold the door, especially for folks who are carrying something, are older, or in some way incapacitated. Always offer up a seat to elderly, pregnant, or physically impaired people. When the rules of the road allow for it, let people go in traffic. Don’t put your feet up on the seats in front of us. Don’t litter. Be considerate when using a cell phone—the rest of the world is not interested in our conversation. When playing music in public, set the volume at a respectable level.
Hosting and Being Hosted
Open the door for company, greet guests with a smile, and offer to take their coats. Stand when someone older enters a room. Show respect—and even affection—to a close relative: a kiss, a hug, a handshake, or all three at arrival and departure are almost always appropriate. When hosting a new friend or visiting guest, introduce them to everyone.
When it comes to visiting people, self-invites are typically poor form. Visits are most appropriate by invitation or when visitation is known to be convenient. Don’t assume we can stay for as long as we would like; time limits are reasonable and appropriate. For sleepovers, permission is needed from the parents/guardians of both children. Anytime we are a guest in someone’s home, offer a helping hand. If we make a mess, clean it up. As we start to leave, remember that thanking the host is a nice way to express appreciation for being welcomed into their home.
Turn the technology off or on silent, put it away, and don’t check it during the meal. Lots of families say grace; wait for the host to start eating—jumping the gun is rude. Always resist the temptation to interrupt someone while they are speaking. Remain committed to chewing with a closed mouth. Keep food off your face by using a napkin and try not to make a mess. Boys should know whether it is appropriate to sit down to eat while wearing a hat—it’s typically poor form with new guests or when in someone else’s house. When done eating, ask to be excused/state an excusal before leaving the table. Offers to clear the table or at least clear our own dishes, utensils, and glassware—or even to do the dishes—are common gestures to show appreciation for our gracious host.
Property, Possessions, & Personal Space
Respect property and possessions, both our own and those of others. Before touching or taking, ask permission. When we borrow something, return it in the same or better condition and in a timely fashion. If we borrow a vehicle, bring it back with a full tank of gas (confirm the grade of fuel). Be considerate of people’s privacy and their personal space. As we travel about in our daily journey, don’t leave a trail. Picking up after any mess we make shows both self-respect and respect for the people in the world around us.
Representing and reinforcing a good attitude, conscientiousness, and emotional intelligence, children can and should learn good manners. Kids just need to be reminded sometimes—or all the time—really, whatever it takes. They know what is expected; all we have to say ask, “What do you say?” or “How do you ask again?” No matter the style or strategy for teaching good manners, consistency is key.
“Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” —Colossians 4:5-6 NIV
Alfie loves his mommy’s cookies, and he wants one more than anything! But grabbing for one, fishing for one, and dressing up as a cookie inspector don’t seem to work. His mommy says there is a better way. What is it? The littlest of readers will learn proper manners with Alfie as his mommy teaches him to say the magic words.
Kids today need manners more than ever, and Dude, That’s Rude! makes it fun and easy to get some. This book gives kids a great start.
Addressing topics men need to master to succeed—how to act and to conduct themselves in a plethora of common and not so common circumstances in the office, at a wedding, on social media, when dating, etc.
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From social networking to social graces, this edition tackles classic etiquette and manners advice with an eye toward diversity and the contemporary sensibility that etiquette is defined by consideration, respect, and honesty.
No matter where a man finds himself, from how to behave at a party, rules for traveling abroad, and of course, all-important advice on how to treat a lady, this handy guidebook provides entertaining pearls of wisdom.
PLEASE NOTE: As an Amazon Associate, Fathers Truly Matter earns from qualifying purchases. The information in this post should not be construed as providing specific psychiatric, psychological, or medical advice, but rather to offer readers information to better understand the lives and health of themselves and their children. It is not intended to provide an alternative to professional treatment or to replace the services of a physician, psychiatrist, or psychotherapist.