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When Teens Dine, and Other Disasters…

{ Thursday, November 20th, 2014 }

This has been a difficult blog to write. Part of me wanted to erase it from my mind. And, the other part of me wanted to use it as a teaching moment.

Let me back up a bit. Whenever I am out with families where food is involved, they always make it a point of saying how their kids need a manner’s class. Making sure to remind their kids that they were dining with Mrs. Goode Manners. Truth be told, if I am not working with a group of kids in a class, more than likely I am not paying attention to your child’s eating habits…Unless, of course, it’s so out of the realm of  what’s acceptable. In other words, what I experienced with my 18 year old son.

We went out for a very nice family dinner. It was a celebration of my mother in law’s birthday. There were 13 of us total, the adults were at one end, and the teen-age and pre-teen grandkids at the other.  I had the honor of sitting at the border. My son on one side of me and my father in law, on the other. When our food came out, we were all served at different times. It takes a while to distribute 13 dinners. Everyone was waiting until all were served, when I glanced over to my right, I literally froze.

My son had taken his last bite of Raviolis. His plate was completely empty. I mean…NOTHING was left. Since it was an Alfredo sauce, it was white, and blended in with the white plate. I prayed that no one would notice. I looked at him in disbelief. I asked, “Was that your dinner?” He said it was. He was too hungry to wait. I explained…You ALWAYS wait. Unless the host or hostess tells you to please start. In this case, it would be his Grammy. I said, “Grammy never said to start.” He shrugged his shoulders and said, “But, I was so hungry.”

As I sat in horror, I heard someone say, “Oh, Joseph hasn’t been served yet.” I was so tempted to go with it. Sooo tempted to say that his food had yet to come out of the kitchen. But, that would be worse. I would be lying and cheating the restaurant out of a dinner. I had to come clean. I said, “Ummm, Joe ate his dinner already.” If I was a dog, my tail would have been so far between my legs I wouldn’t have been able to walk.

Everyone laughed it off. He’s a growing boy. (No, he’s pretty much done with growing, and at 18, he is considered an adult). He just voted in the last election, but he just finished his entire entree before anyone even lifted a fork.

Where did I go wrong? And, more importantly…If I saw a teenager do the same, would that have caught my eye? Would I have thought to myself, wow…I can’t believe how rude? I want to believe, because it was all close family, my son felt comfortable doing what he did. That would still not excuse the rudeness, but I want to believe that if he were with another family, this wouldn’t have occurred.

The bottom line is, no one can point a finger. Not even someone who is known as Mrs. Goode Manners to over 2,000 followers. More importantly, don’t make excuses. There is nothing that can make the behavior okay. Own it, and make sure they own it. And make sure they won’t do it again…

Muppets Showing Good Manners!

{ Friday, March 21st, 2014 }

Muppets Teach Manners!

If any of my followers see fun and interesting articles on manners, please share! I love when someone shares great info with me. This is from my friend Rob. Your kids (and even you), will love it!

Enjoy!

 

Your Son/Daughter is Soooooo Well Mannered!

{ Sunday, March 16th, 2014 }

How many of us have heard these words? (At least I hope so, or this will be awkward), ‘Your son/daughter is so well mannered.’ Let’s take this a step further. Do you then internally laugh hysterically at the thought that they are referring to your child? I ask you, why is it that others benefit from our child’s great behavior, but we do not? Perhaps some of you do have amazingly well mannered children all of the time… I, do not. Yes, full disclosure…Mrs. Goode Manners must admit, my boys still love to be “themselves” at home. I shudder. That’s “themselves?” Egad! I mean, I am thrilled. Thrilled in that others think they are so well-mannered. I would love to see a minutiae of it here at home. I saw my son attack a piece of BBQ chicken breast with his fork dug in like a spear. Almost how you might imagine Tom Hanks eating a fresh catch in Cast Away. Is it worth the argument? Even I question. If I know they are on their best behavior when out in public, or at someone’s home, do I tackle this? Is it worthwhile? I do tell them it’s hard for me to watch. But, who here isn’t guilty of slurping up spaghetti, or using their fingers to pick up food when you are home alone? One night I was twirling my pasta on my fork, and what was not turning onto the fork was dangling down from my mouth. Sauce on my chin. I laughed. If there was a hidden camera I would be busted big time! But, you know what? That’s ok. I feel strongly that there’s a time and a place. The only reason I feel we need to ride our kids a bit more, is because we have earned the right. We are adults/parents/caregivers. I do feel that good table manners come with years of practice, and habit. Our kids haven’t “earned” that right yet. But, is it ok for us to let them slide on things when it’s just us at home? I have to say use your best judgement. But, for me, I feel like every kudo I get about my son…I give him a pass. I let him collect $200 when he passes go. It’s a reward. It keeps his eye on the prize.

Bereavement Etiquette

{ Sunday, March 9th, 2014 }

Last month, many in the community in which I live, were shaken by the death of a young child from cancer. They are a large family, and it seemed that all of us had a connection to some branch of their family tree. For many, people came to me as the, ‘what’s the right thing to do?’ person. Although I knew what the textbooks say is appropriate, it still seemed so wrong. Maybe because it was a child? I don’t know. Nevertheless, the following week, I received this Blog from Etiquette Moms. The timing was almost eerie. I have included it here. I still say, do what feels right for you. But, never avoid the family.  That hurts more. And, though it may seem uncomfortable, speak of the individual that died. Refer to them in conversation. Do not avoid saying their name or sharing a story about them. Families long to keep their memory alive…

Bereavement Etiquette

Assisting a family who is grieving is not only a kind and loving act, it is an honor. Sadly, we don’t always understand what to do or say to be helpful. One of the most natural and common questions intimate friends and family members ask themselves is, “Am I intruding?” The last thing anyone wants to do is to bother those in mourning. Unfortunately, sometimes people shy away from the bereaved believing that providing them space is most helpful.

Those in mourning need support, and intimate friends and families can be of tremendous comfort. Using kindness and sensitivity those closest to the bereaved can help to make the first days and weeks after a death less traumatic.

There are many rules of etiquette for loss that help to support the grieving appropriately. Below are some basics.

Pay a sympathy visit within the first few weeks

A sympathy or condolence call or visit is when one goes to the home of the grieving family to pay respects to the deceased and offer support. People often feel uncomfortable making a condolence visit because they fear they will be interfering. Sympathy visits are significant and appropriate and family members and close friends should make the effort. Death is traumatic and people need support from those they love.

A condolence call speaks volumes to those grieving. It assures the family that they have not been abandoned during their time of mourning and reminds them that although they have experienced a heart wrenching loss they are still  tied to the living.

It is appropriate for family and very close friends to visit the grieving family as soon as they hear the sad news. At this juncture family and intimate friends can provide support and volunteer to help with the necessary activities surrounding the passing. Cooking, babysitting, contacting loved ones, carpooling, accepting visitors and keeping the home tidy are all activities that can help the family in mourning navigate the first days and weeks after a death.

Make it a short visit

A fifteen minute stay is long enough to pay one’s respects. If requested to stay beyond fifteen minutes by the bereft one could choose to stay longer. It is important to be sensitive to the family’s verbal and non-verbal social cues.

A visit might elicit tears, understandably. Emotional upset is nothing to be uneasy about and is a normal part of grieving.

Proper communication 

Speak kindly and sympathetically to the family. Listen attentively and allow the family to discuss how they are feeling. Allow the conversation to be about the family and the deceased.

Because a condolence visit is made to provide support don’t say:

  • How did he die?
  • Her death was a gift because she was suffering.
  • You’ll find someone to marry because you are still young.
  • She was sick for so long so you have already grieved.
  • I went through exactly what you are going through when my father died…
  • It could have been worse…
  • It is a blessing that he was taken so quickly.

Nobody is comfortable making conversation during times of extreme stress and grieving. “I hear you” goes a long way. Use tact and discretion when speaking, edit out comments that might contribute to someone’s suffering. It is helpful to put oneself into the shoes of the bereaved and really consider what he or she might be experiencing.

Don’t judge the words or behaviors of those in mourning. Everyone reacts to grief differently, there is no right way to mourn for a loved one.

A small gift is acceptable

It is not necessary to bring a small gift however a little something is kind and appropriate. A lovely card with a warm sentiment, a small plant or tasteful flower arrangement or something edible are all ideas that are tasteful and will help express sympathy.

Drop off a meal

Volunteering to deliver a meal is helpful in feeding the immediate and visiting family members.  Choose a hearty dish that requires little more than reheating in the oven. When dropping off the meal consider including items for breakfast and/or cookies to serve visitors. There are online scheduling services to help simplify meal coordination like https://www.takethemameal.com.

A word about flowers

Flowers are beautiful, meaningful and usually provide comfort. Flowers can be sent to the family before or after the funeral. Flowers can be sent to the funeral home before the funeral.

Don’t send flowers:

  • To a Catholic church
  • To the family who requests that no flowers be sent
  • If the family asks that donations be made in lieu of flowers
  • To an Orthodox Jewish funeral

If unsure of an appropriate floral arrangement ask the florist. If unsure about the role of flowers in a particular religious, cultural or ethnic situation call the funeral home.

Monetary gifts

It is not appropriate to give money to the bereaved. A gift of cash could make the family very uncomfortable. However, a family left destitute by a death might appreciate help made in the form of a contribution. A group of caring friends could consider collecting a fund but must be very sensitive to the family. Don’t assume that just because a family has suffered a loss that the family is now struggling financially.

Memorial gifts are not considered cash gifts and are appropriate. Often a family will notify friends and family of a specific charity or memorial fund set up in the deceased’s name. It is okay to let the family know of the contribution in a warm note however the amount of the contribution should not be mentioned.

The most important etiquette rule to remember is to treat those in mourning with kindness, warmth, love and respect. When a family member or close friend experiences a loss reach out and provide support. Nobody should have to experience bereavement alone.

Lizzie Post on Katie Couric…

{ Thursday, January 16th, 2014 }

Excellent interview with Lizzie Post! Please take a look if you have a moment!

http://katiecouric.com/videos/etiquette-essentials-for-your-kids/

 

A 2013 Reflection

{ Thursday, January 2nd, 2014 }

Be thankful for all of your blessings. A trite sentiment that is often repeated without much thought. But, as I  reflect over the past year, I think of how much these words actually resonate. So often during the holiday time, we get carried away with the hustle and bustle of getting ready for the season. Did we get the gifts everyone will be happy with? Does our home look nice for entertaining? Do I look thin enough, or have the best outfit for this party, or that party. And, this is not only during the holidays. This can be a year round theme for whatever we have going on in our lives.

This past year, I have learned to slow down and be more appreciative for the things in my life. My oldest son is the main reason for this. If you are able, I highly recommend sending your sons and/or daughters on an immersion trip. His trip to Guatemala was a life-changing experience. Not only for that week, or that month…This trip occurred in June, yet, just a week ago for Christmas, as he and his brother opened gifts, he paused and said, the kids in Guatemala aren’t getting anything. They do not have gifts to open. And, they barely have a roof over their heads. As soon as my other son said something to the effect of, he wished he had received a different XBox game, my older son was all over him. You have no idea how lucky you are, etc. And, with hearing that, my younger son stopped complaining, and I could tell he realized how un-grateful he sounded. Sometimes we all need to be reminded.

I complain incessantly about how much work needs to be done to our home. New paint, floors redone, air conditioning…You get the idea. My new job takes me into the heart of San Francisco. I have heard and read about the issues with the homeless there, however hadn’t really seen it day in and day out. From the moment I get off the train, to the time I get to my office, I pass countless homeless people. As we were moaning and groaning over our cold snap, all I could think about was where these poor people were going to be sleeping. Most of the shelters are filled to capacity. Many of us in San Jose remember the article about the father and daughter taking the bus that traveled to the end of the line and back, just so they had a safe place to sleep, and a place for his daughter to do her homework. All I could think of was…Does the painting that needs to be done in our house THAT critical? When I felt chilled at night, I turned the heat up on our thermostat. When it got too hot in the middle of the night, I complained that I had to get up to turn the heater down. And, then…within a few hours, I was seeing the poor people without a roof over their heads.

I guess my wish for 2014, is to teach your children perspective and gratitude. Sometimes we may just need to actually see it and feel it for ourselves. Bring your children to a soup kitchen, or shelter, to help pass out Turkey’s, or meals for Thanksgiving. Have them work at a center that has children their own age coming through to pick out their school supplies. It’s not just about giving money. It’s about giving time and attention. And, though it is difficult, it is necessary. I know it is human nature as a parent to want to shield our children from seeing difficult things. But, the older they get, the more they need to be aware of life’s uglier side. What could be. How lucky they are. Sometimes they just need to walk in someone else’s shoes so they appreciate all they have. Let’s not raise a generation of takers.

I wish all a happy and healthy 2014!

Do’s and Dont’s For the Holiday Season!

{ Wednesday, November 13th, 2013 }

As posted by Etiquette Moms…Here are some great pointers!

8 Etiquette Don’ts to Avoid this Holiday Season

 

EM Unwelcome-Mat-300x148

“Please, make yourself at home.” the homeowner and party host says kindly as she takes your coat and leaves the room to mix you a drink. As the holidays approach and party invitations abound, you will likely hear these words often, but what exactly does it mean to “make yourself at home” when you are a guest?

Avoid the following eight etiquette gaffs to ensure you stay on the guest list.

1. Don’t request a tour or take an unguided tour of the home.
The host of a party is under no obligation to offer guests a tour. In fact, it is rude to request a tour of someone’s home no matter how gorgeous and expertly decorated. Remain in those areas of the home that appear public and stay out of dark rooms and rooms with closed doors. Respect the privacy of those who live in the home. Sometimes in a rush to host a wonderful party, bedrooms don’t receive the same attention as public spaces and are not in a condition to be viewed by the public. Be aware that family members not associated with the party deserve to remain undisturbed by visitors. Do not riffle through medicine cabinets and people’s closets.

2. Don’t take off your shoes.
Sitting on the couch and kicking off your shoes is not good manners. Removing one’s shoes (in Western culture) is an intimate and casual behavior and not appropriate. Keep your clothes on when invited to a party. What if the host requests you take off your shoes? Take them off and refrain from telling the host that it is not gracious, no matter how spectacular the white carpet, to ask one’s guest to remove her shoes…try and hide the hole in your sock.

3. Don’t turn on the television.
Do not turn on someone else’s television or other technological device. Flipping through the channels while you await your drink or using the host’s computer to check email is impolite. Using someone else’s computer is an especially large etiquette and privacy breach. Unless the host switches on the television (do not ask that the host turn on the television) to check the scores of the game, wait until you get home.

4. Don’t change the music.
It is not the place of a guest to change the music that a host has selected. Even if you hate the music and believe that your musical choice would make the party go from a dud to a sensation do not touch the music. Do not make any negative or what could be perceived as negative comments about the music.

5. Don’t lie down on the couch. 
Your host has served a fantastic and filling dinner, what harm would there be in stretching out on the couch while the table is cleared and the coffee and dessert is prepared? Reclining on the host’s couch while the table is being cleared is socially unacceptable. Although taking a nap might be preferable, conversing with the other guests is the polite way to behave between dinner and dessert.

6. Don’t put your feet up on the coffee table.
It is both boorish and unhygienic to place one’s feet, shoes on or not, on the coffee table. Feet should remain planted firmly on the floor where they will neither spread dirt and germs onto the table surface nor damage the furniture.

7. Don’t start washing the pots and pans in the sink.
Offering to help clear the table is gracious and kind. In most situations, the host will decline the offer preferring guests to relax, mingle, and enjoy an evening out without being put to work. Do not embarrass the host by insisting to jump in and start cleaning. Unless the host begs it is likely she would rather you leave the dishes.

8. Don’t make yourself a hindrance by entering the kitchen.
Hosting a party in one’s home is stressful and a lot of work. The party host wants the event to be a success and for his guests to enjoy themselves. The command center of a party is usually the kitchen where food is being cooked and served and drinks are being mixed and poured. The well-mannered guest stays out of the kitchen to avoid getting underfoot, distracting the host from the duties he is attending to and embarrassing the host in his perhaps messy work station. Wait for food to be served and drinks to be offered and refrain from usurping the host and helping yourself.

Attending a party requires guests to use their finest manners. Invitees should always keep in mind that it is an honor not an entitlement to be welcomed into someone’s home. Avoid the behaviors that drive hosts nuts and you will be welcomed with open arms.

 

 

Manner’s Makeovers for the Holidays!

{ Wednesday, November 6th, 2013 }

I read this from Emily Post this morning, and loved it enough to pass along to you all!

http://www.emilypost.com/holiday-a-celebrations/277-5-day-manners-makeover-for-the-holidays-?start=4

 

Emily Joubert – Home and Garden shop

{ Monday, November 4th, 2013 }

There is a wonderful shop in Woodside, CA called Emily Joubert. If you visit the link below, you will be able to read a little background on how it originated. I am so proud to say that the owner loved my placemats, and wanted to carry them in her store. If you find yourself in the Woodside area, please stop in and take a peek. She has beautiful things for the home and garden. You will not be disappointed.

http://emilyjoubert.com/about-us/

 

Is Your Daughter (or son) a Bully?

{ Thursday, October 3rd, 2013 }

One of the most difficult things to believe or admit to as a parent is, could my child be a bully? And, perhaps not a blatant bully…But, maybe a kid who isn’t a champion for those who get bullied. This link will lead you to one of the best articles on this subject, that I have read in a long time. Do not turn a blind eye to this. Do not assume your child is not a bully, because they would NEVER do such a thing. Err on the side of caution. And, as the author states: “If you have a daughter, don’t just talk to her about being a good person, get all up in her business the way you do with grades, sports, nutrition and safety.” The author, Anastasia Basil, has some great suggestions. And, one of my favorite quotes in the article is this: “explain that middle school is a team sport, so is high school, and she is only as strong as the weakest player.” Meaning, these ages are not for the feint of heart. Kids are trying to fly under the radar so they aren’t bullied. They are fighting for their own lives. So, to stop and help another from being bullied takes a very strong individual. Ms. Basil speaks to her own growing up experiences with being bullied, relentlessly. And, as she so wisely states, “I can’t imagine how I would have survived if cyber-bullying existed. Once the day ended, I was home safe with doting parents who had no idea I was suffering.” Today’s kids are not as fortunate. They are poked, prodded and posted for the whole cyber-world to see.

This is critically important. Open your ears and eyes. It can literally be saving a young person’s life.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/anastasia-basil/is-your-daughter-a-bully_b_3990142.html