You may have worked for years to impart the importance of manners to your children, but why is that when they show up at your relatives' homes they turn into impolite little monsters who act as if they have been raised in a barn and not under your roof? Tweens are also in the "old enough to know better" category, and possibly up for a promotion to the adult table. To make sure you and your child(ren) are on the same polite page and ready for the big day, it is wise to review your mealtime expectations before the turkey is served.
One thing that parents of tweens know, though, is that they don't really want to listen to you. Tweens dislike grown ups telling them what to do. Often, doing so only ensures that they will do the exact opposite of what you expect just to watch you light up like the holiday lights your neighbors have up way too early. No problem. Turn the tables. Ask your kids what they think are manners that all guests should follow. Kids and tweens love the idea of dictating to others! Chances are, all the manners you've taught them will come flowing out in a spiel of expectation and indignation, giving you a chance to reinforce those you love and maybe build on or add those that they miss.
At least, that's what happened when I asked my tween and some pals what manners they think are important to have at Thanksgiving dinner. They hit most of the highlights and I think even Emily Post would be proud. Here are some of their rules:
- Remember to say "please" and "thank you." They added that you can come up with something to say that is nice without having to lie about something you didn't enjoy, such as recognizing that the chef must have worked hard or the hostess spent time decorating.
- Take proper portions of food. Don't take so little that it looks like you obviously hate something, but don't take so much that there isn't enough left for the rest of the guests table.
- Use utensils properly. Apparently several tweens have cousins who use knives in place of forks. This makes me glad I do not have any first cousins.
- Chew with your mouth closed.
- Don't make noise eating your food. Yes, this is separate from the above "chew with your mouth closed." One tween had a story about a relative slurping gravy through a straw that would make any parent's hair stand on end.
- Offer to help.
- Be polite to other guests/relatives.
- Be grateful.
I think they hit a lot of the highlights. Have you ever asked your tween what table manner rules they would like to see everyone observe? What would they add to this list?