Where Did You Learn Manners?: Ask Mrs. Manners

Sheri Reed
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toddler boy cell phone

Photo by LelandsMommy

Ever think about where your manners came from and how your parents got them to stick? Well, it's an important experience to recall as you teach and model important manners for your children.

Today MrsManners talks about ways we can apply a foundation of good manners even when every era of parenting brings a whole new set of lessons to uncover.

Where Did You Learn Manners?

From: MrsManners

When I was a little girl, I was never "taught" manners. They were just like breathing. Manners arrived through a series of experiences and observations and an understanding of what was okay and not. I learned how to respect others by watching the way my parents and grandparents behaved.

As a girl, I wasn't allowed to watch much television, but I keenly remember watching Little House on the Prairie. That TV show helped teach me right from wrong, good manners, and empathy — all from the comfort of my living room and the situations that the Ingalls family found themselves in. I was often annoyed that I couldn't watch TV shows that others could, but as an adult and a parent, I realize that those other shows didn't offer positive examples of behavior, and I am thankful for my parents discretion. Manners and morality go hand in hand. Stories with a moral theme always teach us how to treat others the way we want to be treated, and by doing so, they enhance one's good manners. 

So in thinking about my early manners teachings, it got me curious. Where did you learn your manners? I posted this question to some some of our fellow CafeMoms. Overwhelmingly, I heard that it was from parents and grandparents.

nathansmommy413 had this to say on the subject: "I learned my manners from my family dinners. We had to say please and thank you, eat with a hand in our lap, have a napkin in our lap, chew with our mouths closed, and not talk with food in our mouth, as well as ask to be excused from the table. Yes, these are table manners. I had two older sisters, so it was always being modeled for me, and they were good examples as they had already been trained. We also were not able to use certain "vulgar" words and had a nickel jar for every time we said them. Some things are just not mannerly.  To this day, these things drive me crazy in other people. It is a very valuable and appropriate skill to start young."

CafeMom katyuwf's experience was more broad in nature: "I think there were a wide variety of people who helped me learn manners. To list a few that come to mind right away...my parents, my grandmother, in school and most definitely Girl Scouts. Someone is always trying to teach you right from wrong and good manners. I remember people correcting me (not in a bad way) on several occasions. I also had two parents who were company commanders in the Navy, and I remember learning by watching them instruct their companies. The young adults in their companies would get in trouble for doing things wrong, so I always took notes."

Of course, things have changed a lot since all of us moms were kids. Today, we are inundated by technology and parents have no real experience with the new manners we must exhibit as well as teach: like whether or not it's okay to answer a cell phone in the middle of dinner or respond to a text at the table.

In these modern cases of poor manners, simply draw from the good examples laid out for our us by our parents, churches, and communities and be the people you want your children to emulate. Take that foundational set of manners that you were given and expand upon them. It is never too early for your toddler to see you NOT answer the phone at the dinner table.

If we continue to seek out the answers posed by the modern manners questions asked of us every day, then we can pass these lessons to our children. As parents ourselves, there must be a little learning along the way as we break a few bad habits we developed over time, even if they did develop quite by accident.

Stay tuned for my upcoming article "Parent Pitfalls with Modern Manners." As always, I look forward to hearing from each of you and especially some of the ways you learned your manners! If you have a question that you want answered, just leave me a note and I will answer it for you in an future article.

Submit your manners/behavior questions in the comments below or via PM to Cafe Sheri. CafeMom MrsManners aka: Angela Pitre, owner of the CM group Manners for the Modern Family and MannersMadeFun.com, is here to help!

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