Episode 44

The Motherhood Unmasked Podcast with Vanessa A. Harris Episode 44 Table Manners

Table Manners

“Keep it kind” has gone out the window.

I don’t know if you noticed, but you’re hard pressed to find a kind word, much less a kind deed these days. And it got me wondering where did common courtesy go and how in the world to we bring it back?

And guess what? You’re part of the solution that could change the world. Let me tell you how.

Listen to Episode 44

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Homework: Mind Your Manners

Mealtime is the perfect time to practice the social graces that make life more civilized. Now that you have some family dinners on the schedule, how about using the opportunity to practice kindness right at home? Teaching your child to practice kindness and serve others is a small endeavor with big impact. You’ve got this, Mama Bare!

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Episode 44 transcript

I don’t know about you, but when I watch the news I find myself asking, “What happened to common courtesy?

So, in episode 44, I thought we’d chat about this modern oxymoron and the role your kitchen table plays in common courtesy’s comeback.

Hey there, Mama Bare. Vanessa here with compassion, candor and clarity for you, the mom who’s happy to serve your family, but sure could a thank you.

I understand! So, thank you for all you do and for spending some of your precious time with me today. I’m so glad you’re here.

If you’re a gen Xr, you may have heard of Where’s Waldo—a character known for wandering off—and back when boredom was a thing, kids would spend time looking for Waldo in the busy scenes created by his illustrator.

When I think about common courtesy, it seems like it’s wandered off like Waldo, and nobody’s bothered to look for it.

And it shows in the way adults and children alike conduct themselves in public settings.

Whether it’s the lost art of please and thank you, children calling adults by their first name, holding the door for the person behind you or giving deference to the elders among us—the loss of something once so common is unraveling the fabric of society.

And as Solomon said, it’s the little foxes that spoil the vine.

The slight changes that seem inconsequential until they add up and leave you holding the bill.

Vanessa, what does this have to do with the table?

Well, the table is where you and I learned manners. Something once upon a time referred to as table manners.

Manners that even if learned in other settings were reinforced at the table.

“Please pass the potatoes.”
“Thank you for dinner, Mom.”
“May I have some more?”

It’s also where you practice service. Someone sets the table with flatware for the benefit of everyone dining.

Another serves the food and sets it before those who will be eating.

Beverages? Yep, someone can do that too and when everyone’s enjoyed the food, another somebody clears the table for whoever is on dishes detail.

Now if what I just described sounds more Brady Bunch than your bunch, then Waldo—I mean common courtesy—has wandered off.

And here’s why that matters.

What you do a little, you do in excess. So if there’s a culture of ingratitude and self service at home with blood relatives you love, you’ll replicate it in the culture at large.

As a society, we’ve never been more self-obsessed than we are today.

But we didn’t here overnight.

The same busy and overwhelm responsible for making getting around the table for meals a hassle is behind common courtesy falling by the wayside.

And while you can’t do anything about society at large, you can do something about you and your house.

What you contribute through the kiddos you send off to school every day and eventually into the world to blaze their own trails.

If you’re a Mama Bare, you’ve already heard what I’m getting ready to say.

The hand—your hand—that rocked your baby’s cradle, it actually impacts generations too. And every mom impacting generations changes the world.

We are where we are by a series of decisions and we can head in another direction by a different series of decisions.

Now, wait a minute. No super hero capes here.

I’m not suggesting you should—or could—save the world, but you can absolutely affect your family’s part in it.

And if every mama owned her influence, what a world this would be!

If you did the homework from the Table Talk episode then you not only have a platform for family bonding and passing wisdom, but for the return of common courtesy.

What does that look like?

That’s up to you. In my home, my husband and I are the ones preparing and serving the food while our children set and clear the table. Although we are making headway in having these children learn to cook, make no mistake about that.

But in terms of the table, one does flatware, one does beverages and one clears the table.

And while we do “say grace” over or as we say, bless our meal, we also practice the social graces of asking for someone to pass the condiments, thanking them and when done, offering it to others—though that part one often escapes my boys.

Because the truth is, it’s a process.

My kids are as wonderful and human as yours, so sometimes the table setting is thrown together, someone demands instead of asks, and another may “forget” to say thank you.

I’ve learned to choose my battles regarding correction in those moments.

But what gets built every day is the muscle memory of their souls. Souls I’m teaching to be kind.

Because charity really does begin at home since home is where character is developed.

So when my children enter a store and hold the door for the person coming behind them, it’s because we taught them to hold the garage door open for the person coming behind them into the house, instead of letting the door slam in their face.

And depending on the day the person behind them had, that one act of kindness causes a positive ripple effect in their dealings with others.

Kindness disrupts a bad day.

But most children don’t default to thinking of someone other than themselves, much less putting someone before themselves.

You and I have to teach them. The younger you start, the more second nature it becomes. But it’s never too late to learn kindness.

This week’s homework is figuring out how to weave courtesy into the fabric of your home life.

You don’t have to be the sweetest, most thoughtful person in the world to do it. Lord knows I am not.

It’s easy for this introvert to get lost in my own thoughts till I don’t notice someone struggling with theirs. I practice kindness.

Table manners are an easy place to start, but don’t stop there.

Letting someone know you used the last of something and disposing of the empty container is a kindness I particularly enjoy—can I get an amen?

Those world changers eating and sleeping under your roof every night have no idea they’re potential for good in the world.

It’s up to you to lead the way and provide practice.

And even if they whine now, know that one day your children will rise up and call you blessed for choosing their character over convenience.

As a mom, you’re an influencer. Yeah, don’t laugh. You’re an influencer.

And no, your child doesn’t run to you for insight like their favorite influencer. And you don’t give them the dopamine rush of their app of choice. And you’re not supposed to. You’re not in competition with a device.
You have a different function and flow.

Your influence is like the weathering that formed the Grand Canyon. A consistent current of water eventually giving depth, width and shape to even the most impenetrable child. Ask me how I know.

And while your role doesn’t have the glamour of the Gram or the trendsetting effect of Tic Toc, just like the Grand Canyon, you’ll see the layered and long-lasting effects of time and consistency on your child.

The goal with every episode of Motherhood Unmasked is to encourage and educate you on the small changes that make a big impact concerning the challenges you face.

But every woman could use some fun and support, which is what you get when you join my email list.


Because you could use some quick encouragement and practical resources to make “mom life” easier.

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All 3 of these are my gift to you when you sign up for my twice a month emails at vinelifefaith.com/podcast.

So, as an ode to common courtesy—I thank you for joining me today. You’re intentional about motherhood and I think that’s pretty cool. Please join me next episode. And by all means bring your mom friends, because friends don’t let moms, mom alone.

In the meantime, please remember, when it comes to you being the mother of your children, you are the woman for the job. Take care.

Hey brave mama! Thanks for joining me today. If this episode served you well today, go ahead and follow or subscribe so that you don’t miss out on future episodes. And go ahead and tell your mom friends too because everyone can use a little help on their journey. For more from me, you can always come visit me at my internet home, vinelifefaith.com.

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