The family is a group, a collective of individuals who are not only biologically connected, but who love, cherish and are willing to do anything for one another. Howwe interact with strangers begins with how we interact with our family at home.
It is important to understand that even though you may be in the comfort of your own home around people who have seen you at your very worst, etiquette does not disappear. Instituting good manners and proper etiquette at home is an important piece of the family unit and helps children grow into poised adults.
Since children are maturing daily and spend much of their childhood at home, it is important to teach them proper etiquette so that when they are out on their own, they continue to use the tools you taught them. As a parent, you should highlight situations when you are engaging in proper etiquette and good manners so your children are not only being told what is right, but also witnessing it. Think about how your actions are influencing them and teaching them proper behaviors.
Family etiquette does exist and should be practiced regularly throughout the home. My mentor, Mrs. Peggy Newfield, president and founder of The American School of Protocol, has provided these general rules of family etiquette that should always be respected and followed.
- Greet your family. Greet family members in the mornings and evenings; say good night and good morning.
- Knock on closed doors. If a door is closed, do not barge into the room because the person behind the door is a relative. Respect that the closed door symbolizes privacy. Before entering, gently knock and await permission to enter the room.
- Ask before you borrow things. Do not assume that because the object belongs to a family member it is okay to use without permission. Ask to use things that are not yours and if you are denied permission to use the object respect the owner’s wish.
- Do not go through others’ things. Never go through someone’s private possessions; this includes mail and diaries or journals. A person keeps things private for a reason and looking through them is not only a display of poor manners, it betrays the owners’ trust.
- Do your share of housework to keep the house clean. Be sure to pick up after yourself. It is not the responsibility of other family members to clean up a mess that you have made. Children, your mother is not your personal maid, thus pick up after yourself. It is everyone’s job to make sure the house is tidy and well kept. Make your bed daily and put things back in their proper places after you use them.
- Get rid of the “me” attitude. As I stated earlier, the family is a close-knit unit and it is not just about “you” the individual. Learn to put others before yourself. Consider this, “How would I treat this person if they didn’t have long to live?”
- Eat meals together. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are not just times to gulp down food. These times should be special. Engage in nice conversation, talk about your day and ask how everyone else’s was. Meal time is a time to get away from the stresses of the day and enjoy family. Don’t allow family dining to become a lost art. We will not only lose an opportunity to connect and share the highlights of our day, but the dinner table is a place where manners and dining etiquette is taught. In days gone by, a mother could be seen demonstrating to her children the proper way to cut food and a dad, most often, could be heard scolding his son for not washing his hands before arriving at the table.
- Keep family affairs private. Family members share a lot of intimate details within the household that should not be shared publicly. Keep any private discussions such as, parents speaking about money or siblings sharing who they have crush on, at home and do not discuss them publicly.
Your family is your base. Love and respect each other and always remember it is not only about you …it is all about the family working together!