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Thursday, February 10, 2011

How do you teach your kids Dinner Table Etiquette?

One of the things I've found about raising children is how important a family meal around the table is. We do it every night, without fail. I understand how busy everyone's lives are right now but it is very important to take that 30 minutes or so to sit, as a family, and enjoy each others company. What tips do you have to accomplish a civilized family time meal? Here are some of mine.

First let me start with a couple of don'ts:
Don't bring a cell phone to the table, ever. I have a family of 6 and 5 cell phones. I have even had to reprimand my husband about answering a text message at the dinner table.
Don't fight at the dinner table, no matter what. There are no mean words to each other.
Don't swear at the dinner table. Remember, I have 2 teenage boys, teenage daughter and an 11 year old son. The older boys like to toss cuss words around but never at the dinner table.
Don't get up from the table without asking to be excused.

What to do:

Do: Always say please and thank you. As easy as that may sound it's something we tend to forget a lot of the time, especially with our family members.
Do always wash your hands before coming to the table.
Do pass something when asked.
Do chew with your mouth closed. I don't know why, but there is nothing I hate more than listening to someone 'sap' their food. 
Do eat what is given to you. I have a rule. If I give you too much at the beginning of the meal you don't have to finish it, but if you take it yourself or you take seconds yourself you must eat it. I don't like food waste so I would rather someone take 5 helpings, small helpings, than 1 huge helping and not finish it all.
Do rinse your plate when you take it to the sink. Make the life of the dishwasher a bit easier.

In general, our table is a nice, quiet one during dinner. I wish I could say that the tv is always off but most of the time is on in the background. We don't watch tv during dinner and it's turned down low so we can still carry on a conversation. We eat when my husband gets home so we find out how his day was, if the kids had anything important happen at school.

When the food is set on the table I will often be the one to divvy up the meat to each one (gotta make sure there is enough to go around) but everyone else helps themselves to the veggies and potatoes. For some reason, and I'm not sure if it's something I started or not, but we tend to go in order of age. My husband goes first, then the oldest child, next oldest and so on, until it comes to my youngest and I get his and then mine. Why is it that mom's always get served last? Hmm.

So there you have it. Our dinner routine and how we make it work. What about you?

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