There’s a joke about a little boy who gets put to bed early. The next morning he asks his parents …
which friends were over last night. The parents are astounded–how did the little boy know they’d had guests over? “Because,” Junior replies, “Mommy was laughing at all of Daddy’s jokes.”
Whoops! There’s little in this world more honest or uninfluenced than the candor of a kid. So when that candor casts a doubtful glance at our manners, it’s time to sit up and pay heed! Why is it we let our manners slip so much around the people we love? Shouldn’t we save our best and kindest selves for the ones who matter most?
It’s a trap we’ve all fallen into at one point or another. If your child or spouse has ever wondered aloud why you don’t use your “company voice” or “phone voice” at home, you’re guilty right along with the rest of us. But common though the problem may be, good etiquette (like charity) begins at home. Let’s set the example and make the homestead a pleasanter place all around, don’t you think?
Instead of this: “JUNIOR! Clean up your room this instant or I’ll start pretending I don’t know you!”
Say this: “JUNIOR! Please clean up your room this instant or I’ll start pretending I don’t know you!”
Big improvement, right?
Well, okay, it’s a work in progress, and manners go farther than “please” and “thank you.” But take that first step, however small, today. It’s nice to bring out our affable and generous selves around friends and strangers, but our families deserve our best. Or as Maya Angelou once said, “If you have only one smile in you, give it to the people you love.”
How are you minding your p’s and q’s at home today? Or do you think family time is for letting it all hang out?