With Dignity


With Dignity

Ladies, you have such an eye for detail. Add meaning, warmth, and a personal touch to mealtime. Details make a difference. They show we care. Restaurants take great care to create a pleasant, welcoming atmosphere to ensure customer satisfaction and ultimately revenue. Your motivation is a higher one—-love for the members of your family. Family meals are an important time to develop strong family bonds. build traditions and pass on values on a daily basis. Work towards setting an enjoyable tone and style to your meal that underlines the inherent worth and dignity of your family members. Your particular approach will concretely show your family that you care and they are worth it. No one expects you to be super mom. Every age and stage of family life have its own challenges and developments. Work on one goal at a time and add on over the years. Over time, you will create a wealth of wonderful memories. I bet your kids will remember them long after they’ve left home.

  • Take a few minutes before you begin your meal to freshen your makeup, and run a brush through your hair. You work so hard to pull it all off. Take time to look good and feel good. You are an amazing mom, you deserve to look terrific.
  • Encourage everyone to leave their cellphones in another room so that no one is distracted.
  • Make sure the computer and television are not being used at meal time so that everyone can focus on being fully together.
  • Start your meals by thanking God for your food and family.
  • You don’t need a lot of money to make meals look terrific. Offer a variety of delicious menus over time and be on the look-out for great new recipes. You really want to make your husband happy with your cooking. Remember the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Do please your husband by your menu and don’t always cater to kids foods. Widen their palate and provide a side dish you know they’ll eat.
  • Have an eye for color and presentation. Serve your food in appealing ways (i.e. Thin slices of tomatoes on top of a cheese casserole, with a few sprigs of parsley). Look at magazines and restaurants for simple ideas on presentation.
  • Plan your menu so that the colors of food on the plate compliment and vitalize each other (i.e. green, orange, white, brown) Try a new recipe each month.
  • Encourage your older kids to serve the others and have everyone wait till all are seated before eating.
  • Set the example and gently insist on good table manners, ie. please, thank you, may I be excused, sitting properly etc. I often use hand signs to indicate my wishes, rather than always verbally correcting. For example, finger pointing down means feet down; pinching my lips means to eat with your mouth closed, tapping the plate of my slow-eater to get her going etc. Moms should not make meal-time a series of corrections. Focus on the positive more than the negative.
  • Consider using place-mats from time to time, especially ones with meaningful pictures for the little children.
  • Maybe use a tablecloth. When you have small children, consider buying a see-through plastic sheet from the fabric section of a store to protect your tablecloth.
  • Get in the habit of using nice serving dishes, platters and bread baskets for the food, rather than pots or pans. It helps raise the tone considerably.
  • Eat by candlelight once in a while. It’s a great way to mark special occasions, anniversaries, etc.
  • Place flowers or center pieces on the table from time to time. They can be fresh or artificial.
  • Listen to soft, classical music while you eat. This helps especially when the kids are young and boisterous for you to have something positive to focus on.
  • Use good dishes and glasses on Sundays and special occasions. Don’t always use plastic. (Make sure you don’t microwave with plastic. Health care professionals warn against all plastics in the microwave since cancer-causing chemicals are released onto the foods.) Teach your children how to use nice things properly.
  • Provide napkins (either washable or disposable) from time to time (i.e. Sundays) and teach children how to use them. Older children will enjoy the many ways napkins can be arranged in a glass, wine goblet or on a plate. Go ahead and teach them how.
  • Learn how to make some amazing desserts and save them for special occasions, ie. Sundays, anniversaries, birthdays, special visitors. So often this finale ensures the success of the get-together. Strive to develop your skills over the years.
  • Finally, don’t walk away disheartened because of all the chaos of the meal and the antics of your kids. Just the fact that you all sat together, ate together and talked a bit, puts your family one step closer to being stronger and healthier. Research proves that eating together as a family is critical to personal and family well-being. Each meal is one step ahead for all of you. Eventually, your kids will get older and you can have better conversations, behavior, and enjoyment. But it starts with the craziness of today and your conscious effort to make family meal time a positive experience. Hang in there. The results are around the corner.


Table Manners for the Home by James Stenson

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