What does dinner time look like in your household?
Are you a household that changes your clothes to proper dinner attire? Do you have all your utensils set out in the proper order. Do you use fine china and cloth napkins?
Are you a household that doesn't believe in utensils? Do you eat with your hands and wipe your face with your sleeves? Is belching considered a compliment in your home?
I can honestly say that neither of the above descriptions fits our household. While we are not as prim and proper as we could (or perhaps even should) be, we do a pretty good job of maintaining some sense of decorum. We do have some basic rules we live by at our dinner table, most of which revolve on being polite.
Perhaps you don't like every food that is on your plate. You don't have to eat it all. You simply have to take a polite taste. After the polite taste, you are welcome to leave the rest. You may not make disgusting faces or gagging sounds. You can not criticize or complain about the food you have been served. There is no reason that you should ever offend someone that has worked hard to make a meal for you.
When you would like more of something, you do need to say "please" and "thank you". Show your appreciation for others by using your kind words. Ask nicely for seconds, a napkin, or to be excused.
Eating is generally done with utensils. If a food is intended to be eaten with utensils, then you must try to do so. Some foods are just not utensil foods, however. Those can be eaten with your hands as long as you try to be neat about it. For the younger kids, sometimes an occasional finger might need to help keep a pea on a fork . . . that is okay too.
Eating is a family occasion. We generally eat dinner as a family. On occasion some event or meeting will prevent that, but that is our goal. We wait patiently for everyone to finish eating. We take turns when speaking (but hopefully not when our mouths are full) and we try our best not to interrupt.
Personally, I think that the most important rule for dinner is that it is an occasion that works for you. We spend far too much time during the day away from each other. If we have a few minor lapses in etiquette, but enjoy our time together, then it is definitely worth it!
*Disclaimer - I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Kraft Homestyle Macaroni and Cheese blogging program, for a gift card worth $50. For more information on how you can participate, click here.