Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Table Manners Basics

When your child has that first job interview over lunch or has dinner for the first time with the parents of a romantic interest, both of you will be glad that good table manners were a matter of routine at your house.
But every meal doesn’t have to be a lesson and eating should not be a chore interrupted by frequent admonitions. Children learn best through immersion and osmosis. In other words, if you have good table manners, it goes a long way toward assuring that your children will also.
The good news is that we are not talking about astrophysics here. Good dining etiquette requires only a simple awareness of the basics. Here’s a list of the most common mistakes that your child should learn to avoid:
  • Cutlery. The worst mistake is not using the wrong implement, but using it incorrectly—holding the fork in your fist like a cello or holding the knife like a dagger. In addition, after you use a piece of cutlery, it never goes back on the table. It is placed fully on the plate and not tipped like the oars of a rowboat with the handles resting on the table and the tips on the rim of the plate. The knife blade faces in, touching the inside of the plate; only the handle touches the rim of the plate. Never wave cutlery around to make a point.
  • Napkins. Never tuck. Place the napkin on your lap. Don’t flap it to open it. If you leave the table, leave the napkin on your chair, making sure the soiled part doesn’t mar the upholstery, and push the chair under the table.
  • Posture. Food doesn’t go down as well and you don’t look attractive when you slump. Sit up straight. You will actually be more comfortable. Keep your elbows off the table. If you don’t know what to do with your hands, put them in your lap.
  • Chewing. Chew with your mouth closed and don’t talk with food in your mouth. Also, don’t eat too fast. It’s bad manners and bad for digestion. You should try to eat at the same pace as others at the table: Begin and finish about the same time as everyone else.
  • The table. Keep keys, purses, gloves, and hats off the table. Nothing goes on the table unless it is part of the meal. Think of the germs they might spread and how unattractive it looks to have these objects on the table.
  • Breaking bread. Do not butter the whole roll or the whole piece of bread and cut it with a knife. Break off one bite-sized piece of bread or a roll at a time, and butter each piece before eating it.

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