“That wasn’t a polite thing to say.” “Say ‘please.’ ” “Don’t forget your thank you’s!” “And what do you say?” “We don’t do that at the table!”
There are points in our parenting career when it seems like every second or third sentence gets invested in the quest for mannerly children. We’ve all been embarrassed (and we have the stories!) by our children while they were learning manners. We’ve also all been proud when they got it right and some stranger has commented on what polite children we have. Have you ever had the tables, or the table manners, turned on you? I have.
When my children were younger, I spent time teaching them that kindness in intent and tone should be the rule that governs all of our speech. To remind them when their speech to one of their siblings strayed from the kindness rule, I would gently but pointedly add a storybook quote to the end of their speech. After they fired off, I’d instantly say, “-she [or he] said in a kind and gentle voice.”
My children understood and they’d repeat their communication with kindness. However, once my children caught on to this system, fair was fair.
I once had a bad case of up-late-last-night morning grumpiness, and one of my directions to my son came out less gently than I had intended. Without missing a nanosecond, one of my daughters added, “-he said in a kind and gentle voice.” I looked at her; my mouth opened, my mouth closed, then I thanked her and apologized to my son.
It’s easy to forget or suspend our best manners with our children in the moment-by-moment business of life, but if we heed our own advice, we will realize that it takes only a few seconds to say please and thank you and to rephrase our words so they are kind and considerate instead of sharp and demanding.
For more quick and easy parenting tips and teachable moments, we recommend “Parenting at the Speed of Life”
(RICK OSBORNE / Christian Author, Speaker & Dad – your source for Christian Parenting advice)