Etiquette Helps Create Memorable Family Moments
Etiquette Helps Create Memorable Family Moments
As I child I remember travelling from our Island Nation to the United States for our annual summer vacation to Miami Beach. I remember my sisters and I, then eventually my little brother strolling through the city streets and going into all of the fabulous boutiques fantasizing about the glamorous wardrobes we would have when we grew up. For three little girls from a small Island, Miami was easily the most mesmerizing place on the planet. And while we loved the sightseeing, the shopping and the trip to the zoo or the water parks, my absolute favorite thing about our annual family vacation was that we got to eat out every night of the trip.
My mom is an excellent cook and she prepared our meals at home every night, we ate out at home only when there were really special occasions, or when there was a family or community event. So, when our trip to Miami came around we relished in the opportunity to try what I now know to be Italian, Cuban and Mediterranean cuisine, with the odd trip here and there to McCrory’s deli for their famous chicken and chips ( I’m truly dating myself). Every once in a while my sister and I reminisce about our childhood summers.
I think it was those trips that inspired how we currently plan our vacations, local restaurants are always a major determinant of where we travel.
I remember as a very little girl, my mom taking me to Ms. Dimples, I don’t recall if that was her name or just what she was called, however I do remember that she was very particular about me minding my manners ,it wasn’t until much later in life that I realized that she was an etiquette instructor. Between my mom and Ms. Dimples, I was given the foundational tools needed to be totally prepared for our annual adventures.
Here are three things that I learned:
Please and Thank You
Please and thank you are often said to be the magic words. Saying please when making a request and saying thank you shows a level of respect and appreciation. It has been my experience that saying please exponentially increases the odds of receiving the requested item(s). In the same manner a sincere thank you shows that you are truly appreciative of the gift, item or gesture offered. Three simple words, yet they hold so much power and potential for increasing positive life experiences.
Mind your Dining Manners
At a very early age I learned to properly use my spoon and fork (I was not allowed to use even a butter knife). Basic courtesies such as chewing with your mouth closed and not talking with food in your mouth were reinforced until they became second nature almost. Being able to practice proper dining habits at home made it very easy for me to perform those same teachings while at the restaurants we patronized while on vacation. I often witness parents in restaurants coaching their Child’s’ behavior rather than enjoying the ambiance and building memories. By setting up formal family nights at home, parents can prep their children for those family nights and make family dinners out fun.
I grew up in an era where children were seen and not heard. There was a saying back home: “Speak when you are spoken to and answer when called.” Even though I spent a lot of time listening to adult conversations, I had a unique talent of not interjecting myself into those conversations. Whenever my sisters or cousins would get together, we would mimic the behavior of our parents and their friends and if nothing else we learned the proper protocol of greetings and pleasantries. We learned the hierarchy that lies within each social circle and how to respond when addressed. Today I encourage children to engage in appropriate conversations with adults and their peers especially at a time where social media and iPhone’s make it easy to have full conversations without actually speaking to others.
The goal of etiquette is not to overburden your child with a bunch of rules that are impossible to remember or follow. The goal is to make sure that your family and those around you are comfortable in your presence and can enjoy any memorable experience you choose to create.
I am forever grateful for the lessons I learned from my mom and Ms. Dimple hers is a legacy that enabled me to have some wonderful experiences that have carried through to adulthood, she impacted how my children have experienced the world and I would like to think that I can do the same for others.
Alerice Hendfield-Duncanson holds a degree in Psychology with a concentration in Life Coaching. She is a Certified Etiquette Consultant and the Author of Zion the Mannerly Lion. She founded Etiquette Keys to Success in order to help individuals and families set themselves up for maximum success in achieving their soul’s goals.