Mom of Three

If I’m being honest, date nights – going out – are few and far between.  We were in a season for a long while where we really didn’t want to leave the kids, because free nights were few, and we wanted to include them. Date nights are definitely important, but there is also a balance.  For us, we do a good job of connecting on a daily basis – at night when the kids are asleep we chat and talk.  Other times, we get a random night when kids are at a sports practice or with grandparents.  This past season, while the kids were in school, my husband and I had lunch together because we both work at home!  I do know that having time with him, dating him, is important.  But only “date night” connections every so often is not enough, and we also have a budget, but day-to-day connections work as well.  

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It’s the day to day connections where we chat and spend time over coffee, or even a ride in the car to pick up the kids, that works for us!  Our date nights don’t have to be big or fancy or every week.  They can be a simple  lunch or a shopping excursion to pick out wood floors for the house!

When we do have a designated date night, we often stay in (to save money).  We watch a show we enjoy together, and have dinner at home, and make it cozy.  If we do go out, it’s a coffee date for sure – and sometimes bowling!  Our love language is coffee, and we sometimes play a game.  We don’t visit the theater a lot, because we watch enough shows at home.  We like to go somewhere that we can talk and do something, or even just walk around!

Sometimes we plan our dates nights together, or sometimes we surprise each other – especially on birthdays.

So both – date nights out and daily connections – are a great balance for us!  I’ve been so grateful for this season. Finding time with toddlers is hard, but now that the kids are in school we have more time.  We also love to serve together, and call that connection, because we are super compatible that way!

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We asked our moms this month to share about manners these days, what is important, and what do they let go...and their answers are great.  The eldest child of the bunch answered for her family!  It's good to think about these things sometimes...would you agree?

Mom of Two (and one on the way!)

With our girls being ages 6 and 4, we do teach manners more in the form of how they treat others and being respectful – especially with words.  We teach them to say, “Please” and “Thank you,” and even Mr. and Mrs. to teachers or older folks in the community.  We also try to teach manners when at others’ homes when eating dinner, being courteous to those who are serving us, etc. We try our best to instill that manners consist of being respectful!

We aren’t so much on manners in sitting still when eating, napkin on the lap, to use the “proper” fork, etc. We have not taught our children that, but we do try to get them to stay in the chair during meal time!  This is hard when they’re young, because it may be hard to eat a full meal in one sitting.  Hopefully, that will get better as they age, and can then help put things away!

At the table, if their mouth is full, we do insist that they finish chewing first.  And we also teach the girls certain etiquette on how to sit when wearing dresses.  We still have them wear shorts underneath, and show them how to “properly” sit and be respectful to their own bodies.

It’s mainly respect and attitudes, and not being rude that we focus on.  We talk about that instead of the “traditional” manners of do this and don’t do that.

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Mom of Four (as shared by Grace, the oldest)

My parents aren’t very strict on manners but one of the major manners that my mom and dad want us to do is to keep eye contact with the person we are talking to. My parents think this is very important to do.  They have always reminded us to keep eye contact, and that have reminded us so many times it has stuck.  In my opinion, this is pretty easy to do.  But for some of my siblings, it is a little more difficult. 

Another manner that we practice in our house is saying yes ma’am, no ma’am, yes sir, no sir.  My parents have taught us this because it shows respect and is polite.  I think it is easy because I have done it over and over again so many times.

One of our table manners is not talking with food in our mouths, because first of all – it’s gross if you do.  But it’s polite if you don’t.  My parents teach me this by example.  I am pretty good at this most of the time, but sometimes I think I have something important to say and forget I have food in my mouth.

The next manner we have been taught is “ladies first.” This manner is mainly for my brother.  My parents have taught my brother that it is respectful to put ladies first.  Like letting them go in front of you, holding open the door, and just being really polite.  My brother is really good at this manner!

The final manner is “no elbows on the table.”  My parents are not really strict on this manner, but they can be.  They have taught us how polite and important it is to have good table manners.  I really struggle with this one, because I think it’s more comfortable to put my elbows on the table.

Although I’m not perfect at all of the manners, I strive to work on them constantly.  Now you know some of our household manners…

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Mom of Three

We do think that manners matter.  We do more of modeling and instruction as we go along, rather than setting up a list of rules. 

Regarding yes ma’am or yes sir, we have not necessarily taught these.  However, we have taught them to say yes, not yeah.  And we often say “Yes ma’am?” as a question when we want them to hear us and listen.  It’s asking for an intentional response.  We absolutely teach them to say yes, or no thank you, or yes _____ (insert adult name here.)  We try to introduce people that way, so they hear it.  We want them to be polite and kind.

One of our biggest manners we’ve talked about is looking someone into the face and responding, even if they don’t want to talk to someone.  At church, we have greeters and the kids aren’t always awake when we arrive.  An older gentleman there likes to give high-fives and the kids at first just walked by.  So we talked about saying “good morning” and smiling and making eye contact or responding, so that others are acknowledged.  We teach them to be aware when others are being kind to them.  Our daughter prefers a fist bump!  But the kids aren’t allowed to glare and walk away.  As the kids have gotten older, we’ve had to remind them more!

Be nice, be polite, be aware, open the door, make contact, say thank you, all of these things…we enforce.  They are good at saying thank you and giving a hug.  But, of course, they sometimes forget. We often work on being honest in the right context, and not being rude!  

As far as table manners, like napkins in laps – we don’t require that. However they do always have a napkin no matter where we are sitting.  We do talk about using the napkin, because kids forget!  They only see cloth napkins in restaurants, as we don’t use cloth at home!  We do work on wiping hands, cleaning up after they eat, etc.

We do teach kindness, but not necessarily “old school” manners, so to speak.  We work more on the attitude of the heart, so that kindness comes out.  Heart issues.  We teach more along the lines of fruit of the Spirit, so that they act kindly toward others.  Proper at our home? Probably not.  But a grateful heart? Yes, we do work on that. 

The kids are also learning at church about walking with the Lord and producing the fruit of the Spirit – so it’s more what’s in their heart and that comes out of their mouths…rather than a set of rules.

Do Manners Matter?
by The Cousins