Good-Enough Manners for Rotten Kids

kid eating turkey legThanksgiving is upon us. Time for many parents to parade their dear, well-behaved children before family and friends and show off their impeccable manners. Oh so proud they are. And then there are the rest of us. The parents who pray and pray the night before Thanksgiving (yes, even those who never pray) to just make it through the turkey dinner without any horribly embarrassing and ill-mannered incidents. Please God, just let us make it through.

Manners expert Elise McVeigh sent some very generous tips to help children use proper manners at the dinner table. I really appreciate these tips. I do. However, I felt it necessary to also share with other parents of rotten kids some ideas for what we can reasonably expect from our kids at the Thanksgiving table.


I really hope your kids are not rotten and that they excel at Mrs. McVeigh's good manners suggestions. However, if they are rotten, I want you to know one thing. You are not alone, and expectations for good-enough manners are perfectly acceptable and, even more importantly, mildly achievable this celebratory time of year.

Mrs. McVeigh's Manners vs. Good-Enough Manners for Rotten Kids

Mrs. McVeigh's manners: Be seated at the table after the hostess (lady of the house) sits.

Good-enough manners: Be seated for at least one 10-minute interval during the meal. That'd be great.

Mrs. McVeigh's manners:  The napkin goes on your lap right after you sit.

Good-enough manners: The napkin doesn't go on your head nor does it get rolled up and used as a weapon against your brother.

Mrs. McVeigh's manners: Start eating after the hostess takes her first bite. 

Good-enough manners: Don't say everything on the plate looks "yucky."

Mrs. McVeigh's manners: Practice cutting and holding utensils.

Good-enough manners: Use utensils, please.

Mrs. McVeigh's manners: Forks and knives have a proper place to rest on the plate in between bites, and after the meal is finished.

Good-enough manners: Forks and knives should not be waved in a stabbing motion at your brother.

Mrs. McVeigh's manners: Chew with your mouth shut.

Good-enough manners: Don't try to suck mashed potatoes through your drinking straw.

Mrs. McVeigh's manners: Do not interrupt others when they're speaking. 

Good-enough manners: Pass.

Mrs. McVeigh's manners: Try everything on your plate.

Good-enough manners: Even if that means all you have on your plate is four helpings of marshmallow fruit salad.

Mrs. McVeigh's manners: Do not make negative comments about the food being served.

Good-enough manners: If you resist saying, "Meat Is Murder" when the turkey comes out, you can have two pieces of pie.

Mrs. McVeigh's manners: Do not ask to be excused or get up from the table until everyone is finished eating.

Good-enough manners: If you don't fall out of your chair and fake your death to try to get out of sitting at the table when you're done eating, I'll be very very proud of you.

Mrs. McVeigh's manners: Thank the hostess for the meal when the meal is done.

Good-enough manners: Do it or die (strangely, I'm a bit of a stickler on this one).

Mrs. McVeigh's manners: Place the napkin nicely folded on the table to the left of the plate.

Good-enough manners: As long as you don't stand on your chair, or the table, or do that horrifyingly high-pitched rendition of "Poker Face" at the table, I really don't care what you do with your napkin after dinner.

Are good-enough manners acceptable to you? Or do you expect more than just "good enough" from your kid?

Image via her wings/Flickr

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