"Boys, could you please not use your tee-shirt sleeves as napkins?" I said countless times.
I reminded the guys that good manners include consideration for the people that are sitting next to you at the table.
I have to admit that I have my own occasional lapses at dinner-time, often catching myself talking with my mouth full or putting my elbows on the table. You'd think that the teacher would've learned by now! So, all of us are still working on this.
Here are three requests I make at dinner time:
* Contribute - Help set the table, pour the water, and help mom in little ways. That's part of being considerate and courteous. And stay around until the very last pans are washed, dried and put away!
* Converse - Children and teenagers alike need to learn how to engage in pleasant, meaningful conversation. I just did a blog about this very topic: Conversational Competence. I think you'll like it, so please check it out. The table is the perfect place to teach positive social skills.
* Compliment - Now I'm not just talking about complimenting the chef, although that's a good thing! I always asked the boys to find one thing that they liked about the meal and to comment on it while everyone was around the table. And it didn't have to be about the food. It could be about how nice it felt to sit and relax after a busy day -- something like that.
Without question, it's an absolute must for everyone to give a hearty, "Thank you!" at the end of any meal. That's a given.
The main thing is to come to the table with a thankful heart and to think of others. The other thing is to leave with a thankful heart, too. It's that simple. After all -- good manners simply mean to be considerate. That's the key.
Stay faithful in teaching! God bless you.