Monday, January 18, 2016

Etiquette and Wealth in Parenting

Manners cost nothing. Every parent—though the veriest pauper—can give them to every child...
Etiquette — A Rich Heritage Which the Poorest May Give Their Children

Manners cost nothing. Every parent—though the veriest pauper—can give them to every child. You may not be able to send your boy to Harvard nor your girl to dancing school. They will never upbraid you for that. But bring them through childhood surrounded by and solely taught coarse, common, slovenly ways of speech and behavior, and no matter how devoted and unselfish you have otherwise tried to be, as surely as they live will they see the day when your memory is stung by the bitterest reproaches. 

Start them in the world with faultless manners, and though they have no other inheritance they are immeasurably far from poor in the world’s most cherished coin. Money does not rule everywhere. Does some busy, tired mother or careworn father cry out, “How shall I study all the intricacies of etiquette to teach them again!” I reply: There are a dozen broad rules that are sufficient to pass muster. The rest are very good to know, and not absolutely necessary. 

I set down some of them here, with this excuse, that I see them constantly violated by bright, gentle little people who would be glad to "act pretty," if, poor, small souls they had the faintest stimulus of example or even precept to guide them. Teach a boy never to wear his hat in the  house, nor while standing before a woman; to allow a woman always to precede him, even (as latest advices say) in ascending stairs; to be quick to open doors for her, to carry her parcels, to wait upon her and never to sit while she is standing. 

Teach both hoys and girls good table manners. Make them wait by their chairs till their elders are seated; eat noiselessly; not fidget nor talk with full mouths, nor upon unappetizing subjects; not leave knife and fork trailing off the plate, but always laid side by side, never crossed upon it, every second that they are not in use; not to soak and sop their food; not to bite off bits from a slice: to half fold the napkin when it is not to be used again; not to reach: to be courteous in thanks and requests; to push the chair against the table after the meal. 

Teach them always to knock at a closed door: not to call from one room to another; not to slouch in their seats, nor, if in a rocking chair, to rock. With speech there are more than a dozen ‘don'ts.’ They certainly are vulgar who use "havin’’ and "doin,” and “run” for "ran” and "come” for "came;” who are not early taught to abstain from subjects and words—all proper enough in their place—that are not agreeable to the most sensitive ear.

A child almost surely learns from the beginning to wash his hands often; not to take bones in his fingers nor to drink from his saucer; to take off his hat when be meets a lady (but it should include even little girls) and to use “done” and "seen” in in their proper places. I wish some elders were not content with this very slim outfit of polite baggage when as much more would be as easily taught. "Some day the child will wish so, too." says the writer in Good Housekeeping, from whom we quote.—Red Bluff Daily News, 1892

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Moderator and Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia

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