Directions: Answer the following question.
Which of the following must be true if I enroll my child in an etiquette class?
A. I am not living up to my role as a parent because I have failed thus far to teach my child good manners.
B. I am not living up to my role as a parent because somehow I have managed to raise a young monster in training.
C. I am caving to peer pressure from my own social group of parents and will write the check for the class just to keep others from talking about me and/or my child.
D. All of the above.
E. None of the above.
My children have come of an age where they definitely have an opinion about what activities they want to do. My daughter is especially good at self advocacy in her activities, begging for tennis, gymnastics, hip-hop, Girls on the Run, and soccer all in the same season. My boys are definitely more selective in their requests, but equally excited and committed to those activities that happen outside of school hours. Not one of mine, and I feel pretty confident in assuming very few children anywhere have ever asked of their parents, “May I please take an etiquette class?”
Parents are the ones who make these “choices” for children. I made it last year for my oldest, and only the promise of friends also enrolled and a new sport coat and tie quieted his protests.
Why did I choose to manipulate this “choice “ for my son? Simply put, I was so worn out by my own voice harping about how he uses his fork and knife at the dinner table that I was ready to pay someone else to take over the job. Ask another parent who has made the same choice for her child, and you will get a different answer. Each family has its own unique struggles and so I would expect any family who has enrolled a child will present a unique reason.
Did I feel like I had failed even a little bit by enrolling him? Yes. Why could I not make an impact on my own son’s table manners? That is my job! Instead, I threw in the towel and offered him up to someone else.
Is this different from what parents do when they send their kids to school? We all have the ability to teach our children to read, write, compute, etc. And those who choose to homeschool do just that. Yet most of us choose to engage teachers in our business of educating our children. We also choose to engage coaches in the business of training our children in a sport and ministers in the business of religious and spiritual enlightenment. We make these choices about who to engage in the business of educating, training, and teaching our children based on our own priorities.
Our Family Values.
In my opinion…
…the answer to the “quiz” above is E. None of the above.
Enrolling your child in a course in manners and etiquette is a reflection of your Family’s Values.
Some parents will choose to instill manners in their own children without an outside teacher, coach, or expert, and they will do a great job of it.
Many, like me, recognize personal limitations and effectiveness in making a real difference with your own children. You realize that seeking “outside help” means placing at least as much value on your child’s ability to demonstrate kindness and respect toward others, to be confident in himself, comfortable in new social situations, and to demonstrate appropriate manners at the table as you place on his ability to kick a soccer ball into the “Upper 90.”
It means you value social skills and character development at least as much as any other skill that you employ someone else to help develop in your child.
It also means that you are willing to shuffle your already tightly packed schedule just a little bit more to send the message to your child that yes, his manners really do matter!