Family Matters: Please pass the salt and pepper

By Lucia Ferrara

Have you ever been out in a restaurant or anywhere a public meal is served and you see children at the table acting up and do not seem to have any table etiquette or manners in general? I have, and it is very annoying.

I have three children, two are young adults on their own and one is a senior in high school. I have tried my absolute best to teach them about table etiquette, manners and showing respect not only with family and friends but in general. They may not be perfect, but I am proud to say that they listened to their Mamma! Etiquette in general is a lost cause these days.

All the articles in the Family Matters series are available here.

Laying the groundwork is especially important — but not easy. This type of social interaction is so particularly important. Why? Because we spend most of our time eating!! The foundations of etiquette start as early as when a toddler begins to speak and use utensils. Parents, I urge you to take every opportunity you can to teach your kids to be respectful at the table.

Being patient is important because it may take several attempts before it becomes a consistent behavior for them. With small children teaching them to sit straight up and no elbows on the table may be difficult at first but eventually they will grow into knowing that is just what we do. Teaching kids about table manners goes a long way into adulthood and the rest of their life.

Expressing gratitude for your food is necessary, too! So many children around our communities and the world experience food insecurity every day. Sometimes the only meal they receive is from the school cafeteria. I remember as a child my dad always made us clean our plates, because when he was a little boy, he knew what it was like to be food insecure. Our children need to know that the food placed before us is a blessing. Please teach your kids to be thankful for the food they have, this means saying a quick prayer or devotional before eating.

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According to an article on the Focus on the Family website, “Family meals can be powerful events in the lives of both children and adults. They are a time to laugh, learn how to speak and listen politely, instill values, establish one’s identity as a member of the family, welcome guests, and acknowledge God’s provision on a day-to-day basis.”

I could not agree more! Mealtime is sacred family time. Gathering at the table with your family is important; there is beauty in sharing a meal together because we all grow in God’s love each time. I am going to leave you with some simple etiquette tips that you find useful during mealtime with your family!

Etiquette Tips:

  • No electronics at the table
  • Pray before each meal
  • Place a napkin in your lap
  • Wait to eat until everyone has received their meal or sat down at the table
  • Do not reach over anyone’s plate when passing the salt and pepper or anything else!
  • Chew with your mouth closed
  • Say please and thank you
  • Do not criticize your food
  • Offer to help clean up afterward

[Lucia Ferrara is the Director of Hospitality at Precious Blood Renewal Center and the lead organizer here of Parent Cafes. Share your thoughts with Lucia or ask her questions by using the form below or sending an email to Read more about the Parent Café here.]

Image © by LillyCantabile from Pixabay

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