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table manners

Do Table Manners Still Matter in Today's Busy World?

By Anneliese Howard

When I look back on my childhood in the 80s, one memory that stands out is our family dinners. Gathered around the dining table, these moments were about much more than just food. They were life lessons in the making, teaching me how to use cutlery, engage in meaningful conversation, and, perhaps most importantly, exhibit proper table manners. I vividly recall a time when my youthful impatience led me to express my irritation about hearing my father's daily work stories repetitively. That was a quick lesson in the importance of courtesy.

Fast forward to today's society, and it seems that these cherished family meals are becoming increasingly rare. With both parents often working long hours, children's afternoons packed with organized activities, and everyone engrossed in their technological devices, the tradition of sitting down for family dinners, complete with conversation and a lesson in table etiquette, is in decline.


The Current State of Family Dining

Statistically, the decline in family meals is evident:

As someone who has spent three decades working in the hospitality industry, I've had ample opportunities to observe children's table manners—or often the lack thereof. It's disheartening to note that children with proper manners and dining knowledge have become the exception rather than the rule. Simple acts of politeness, like thanking the server for delivering a meal, knowing how to arrange cutlery when finished, and engaging in meaningful conversation at the table, are becoming increasingly rare.

However, it's essential to remember that children aren't to blame. They follow the example set by the adults around them, and if those adults are unfamiliar with proper table manners, it perpetuates a cycle of ignorance. It's unfair to expect food and beverage staff to step in and enforce basic dining decorum, such as asking children to be seated or not make a mess.


The Importance of Teaching Table Manners

So, what exactly should we be teaching our children about table manners? Here's a concise list:

From my extensive experience, I firmly believe that it's crucial to take children out and educate them about dining in a restaurant setting. Exposing them to this experience not only provides an opportunity for practical learning but also reinforces the importance of respectful behavior in a public space.

In conclusion, table manners may seem like a relic from the past, but they hold enduring value in today's fast-paced world. Proper dining etiquette is about more than just rules; it's a reflection of respect and consideration for others. As parents and responsible adults, we have the power to pass down these valuable lessons to the next generation, ensuring that they not only enjoy their meals but also navigate the world with grace and courtesy. So, let's make an effort to bring back the family dinner table and the valuable life lessons it holds.