“That was the best Friday night meal in weeks,” Bob said as he smiled across the dining room table at his wife, Kathy, and their three kids. “Clean house, great food, excellent conversation, and awesome company.”
“Awesome company” was a family from their church. Both families had been trying to get together for weeks and the stars finally aligned.
“Hey kids,” Bob said, “how about helping serve the ice cream?”
“Okay, Dad,” Junior said. The ten-year-old pushed back his chair, paused, and then ripped a belch of such uncommon resonance it echoed for a long second before leaving the room.
“High five dad,” Junior said after his fist pump. “That must have been at a least 9.5!”
Bob smiled weakly at his wife, but he was busted and he knew it. How often had Kathy complained he was running an ongoing master class for bad habits?
Everyone has their funny family social blunder stories. But if you have too many, maybe it’s time to consider 4 tips to avoid social blunders in public:
1. Model appropriate behavior.
Learning is a natural part of the family environment; there’s no “on-off” switch. If dad belches loudly after dinner, or smiles broadly when Junior “toots,” then “monkey see-monkey do” is pretty much a foregone conclusion.
2. Teach etiquette.
Turn the television off, sit around the dinner table, and make family time an ongoing master-class in the basics. How to use a napkin, what to do when we want to belch, why we don’t wear underwear on our heads to supper.
3. Make a clear distinction between fun family time and entertaining others.
Sometimes it really is okay to wear underwear on our heads around the dining table. There’s a time and a place, and “Friday night is underwear night” could be perfectly appropriate for your family. But those lines must be clearly drawn and understood.
4. Monitor social media.
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. These are places where the smallest family faux pas can “go viral” and quickly get out of proportion. Have a simple rule. “Pictures must be cleared by mom or dad before they’re posted; otherwise, access will be forfeited.” Make the guidelines clear, and then enforce them consistently.
Huddle Up Question
At supper and talk about three habits that could hurt them at school. Handing work in late, leaving things to the last minute, and talking back. Explain how actions easily become unconscious responses the more we do them.