Courtesy Begins at Home

heart-in-gate” . . . there is no place in the world where the amenities of courtesy should be so carefully maintained as in the home. There are no hearts that hunger so for the expressions of affection as the hearts of which we are most sure.  There is no love that so needs its daily bread as the love that is strongest and holiest.  There is no place where rudeness or incivility is so unpardonable as inside our own doors and toward our best beloved.”  – Rev. J. R. Miller, D.D. in Home-Making

Rude and disrespectful children were not taught at home the example of kindness and consideration.  They were not shown by their parents the value of respecting the hearts of others.

From the time our kids were small we praised them for their kindnesses to others, and actively taught them how to bring light to the lives of others via small kindnesses.  And it began at home.

“Your sister is a gift from God, one that you will always have.  When you’re a very old man and have a sad day you will call her and tell her your troubles and she will pray for you and tell you she loves you,” we told the boys more than once.

“Some girls don’t have brothers,” I remember telling one of the girls.  “Your brother will grow up to be a good, strong, kind man just like your dad, and he will always care about you and always help you and always love you.”

And so forth.  And then, we would tell them to spend just a little time alone to pray (it’s never too early to teach a child to take their burdens to Jesus) and later they were required to give each other hugs and say, “I love you.”

To this day we have four kids who love each other and show it.  They are kind and courteous almost all of the time.  And if they slip up we are quick to check them.  As I said to our oldest son not long ago, “You will never have a truer friend, you will never know a more quality person, than your brother.  He’s a 17-year-old male right now, and if you’ll think back to when you were a 17-year-old male . . .”

He got the point:  Courtesy begins at home.

“The tenderer the love and the truer, the more it craves the thousand little attentions and kindnesses which so satisfy the heart.” –  Rev. J. R. Miller, D.D. in Home-Making

It’s “Raising Mannerly Children,” Not, “Ignoring Aggravating Miniature Terrorists”

Note:   This picture was taken Mother’s Day, 2015, but I am pairing it with an article written in 2010, as I consider it worth repeating.

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The Importance of RAISING MANNERLY CHILDREN cannot be overemphasized. Manners are, in essence, simply the thoughtful consideration of the needs and wants of others.

The Golden Rule is so named because if you learn it, all else of value follows.

And if you don’t . . .

A life of misery–for you, your child, your child’s spouse and children and coworkers, neighbors–is what’s in store if you don’t teach your children manners.

Or, let’s look at it another way: Teach your children to think of others and they will naturally have manners.

This is an ongoing task (see the article’s end for how to begin with ease and quick results), but the rewards are commensurate with the effort.

Seth, (a 10-year-old), has an excess of energy, and sometimes tears through the house like a dervish. Recently he raced past the girls and me, who were having a pleasant conversation, yelling and brushing against us.

It was time for conscious parenting. Time to heed that little voice in my head that said, “Stop what you’re doing, stop having a nice chat with your girls, and deal with this.” So I stopped.

IT’S MY JOB.

Not fun, but necessary. I will not be the mother of a hellion, who thinks the conversations and happiness of others beneath his time and consideration.

Yes, we all know someone like this. An adult. Not a pretty picture.

Remember: If you don’t care enough to teach your child to be kind and considerate, who will?

But how?  Where to begin?  An excellent place to start is with Munro Leaf’s books, those loved and still remembered by my kids–Manners Can Be Fun, How to Behave and Why, and How to Speak Politely and Why.

Fun, funny, great illustrations, and effective:  Munro Leaf.

Tea Cozy?

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You may think a tea cozy is a quilted teapot cover, and if so, may I recommend the knitted pineapple cozy found in Jane Brocket’s inimitable The Gentle Art of DomesticityBut I’d like to introduce the idea that a tea cozy is also a gathering of bliss wherein tea plays a part.
My first tea party was at friend’s house, and it was given in honor of our dolls, with a tiny painted metal tea set.  The dolls had tea (water) and raisins, and were quite happy with their fare.  After all, they got to sit at a little red wooden table in matching chairs, and be served. To this day, that is one of my all-time favorite teas cozies.
Such cozies may occur on quilts in the backyard with toddlers, peanut butter and crackers, a great book(s), and of course, tea.  Tea may be nice and hot in a thermos if fall is hinting at winter, or it may be iced to be enjoyed with berries picked alongside the road as you hike to a clearing under a nice big oak tree.

Other lovely tea cozy ideas include but are not limited to::  making breakfast special with tea, history teas, tea parties on a budget, literary teas, dress-up teas, teas on the balcony amid falling snow, slumber party teas, If-I-Could-Travel-Anywhere teas, Christmas teas, and tea parties for no particular reason (I think of these as conversation teas).

The only rule for a tea party is:  Conversation must be kind and intelligent.  Tea is a most excellent place to teach etiquette, and in fact when the kids were small I often brought a favorite etiquette book to our gatherings, Manners Matter by Hermine Hartley.

Now if you don’t have etiquette books, tea sets, knitted tea cozies, and a variety of gourmet teas, don’t be discouraged.  Have a coffee cozy (I use swiss water decaf mostly when having coffee with kids), or serve milk and cookies and call it a milk.  A milk?  Maybe a milk cozy.  If it’s cool outside, heat the milk and add honey and maybe some cinnamon and nutmeg.

There are endless possibilities, but the bottom line is simply this:  always be on the lookout for a tea cozy opportunity.  Bliss!