San Francisco parents are outsourcing table manners, reports the New York Times. Well-to-do parents like to eat out, but they’re not good at teaching their children how to behave in public.
It’s dinnertime, and 6-year-old Joaquin Hurtado is staying in his seat. He hasn’t stood up, run around the table or wrestled with his little brother. Good thing. It wouldn’t take much unruly behavior to shatter the dishware or the mood in this upscale restaurant.
“This is a place where you come to eat,” the boy says softly, explaining nice manners. “It’s not a place to play.”
The place is Chenery Park, a restaurant with low lights, cloth napkins, $24 grilled salmon and “family night” every Tuesday. Children are welcome, with a catch: They are expected to behave — and to watch their manners, or learn them. Think upscale dining with training wheels.
Some parents pay for etiquette classes. Robin Wells, the founder of Etiquette Manor in Coral Gables, Fla., teaches children to use forks and look the waiter in the eye. She charges $285 for five one-hour lessons.
She often exhorts her young students: be polite to your mother because she’ll be happier, and if she’s happier, you’re happier.
I did this with my daughter when she was two, explaining that if she whined, nagged or sulked, she’d have a mean, crabby mother, but if she refrained from whining, nagging and sulking, she’d have a nice, cheerful mother. It worked — and lasted through her teen years. Didn’t cost a dime either.
Many families eat with the TV blaring in the background. Parents and kids are checking social media instead of talking to each other at the table.
Modern children don’t want to hear about “manners” or “etiquette,” says Faye de Muyshondt, the founder of Socialsklz, which teaches workshops in New York City on etiquette and social skills. She teaches children that they are “building the brand called ‘you,’ ” reports the Times.
Hmmm. Well, I did tell my daughter that I wanted her to behave well at her friends’ homes so their parents would say, “What a well-behaved child. She must have a wonderful mother to raise her to be so well behaved.” This worked too. I