Monday, 11 July 2011

Manners - do you think they are important?

There was much uproar over here recently over an email that was made public and went viral as they say. It was from a woman to her daughter in law and it contained a list of dos and don'ts as far as manners are concerned. The daughter-in-law described the mother-in-law as the mother-in-law from hell, but I have to say that the points raised by the older woman made me think that perhaps the younger woman may be the daughter-in-law from hell instead. Perhaps they just deserve each other??

Some of the points raised by the mother-in-law are important though ...

"When a guest in another's house, you do not lie in bed until late morning in households that rise early - you fall in line with house norms."

Well, to me this sounds entirely reasonable. Would you ever go to stay at someone's home and loll about in bed all morning? Surely you would be up and having breakfast with them?

"No-one gets married in a castle unless they own it. It is brash, celebrity-style behaviour."

This one is trickier. To me it is not terribly important whether you get married in a castle, a church, a field or a beach. Its the vows that matter and if you can afford to get married in a castle then why not? Its all a question of taste and individuality. People can be just as naff and brash in a village hall as a castle.

"You do not take additional helpings without being invited to by your host."

Now, this one conjures up all sorts of images... dinners around at the mother-in-law's house with daughter-in-law piling her plate high with mash. She is right though. You don't just steam in, do you? You eat slowly, commenting on how delicious the food is and then when you and everyone else is finished the hostess should be asking whether you would like more. The least you could do if she forgets is to ask if anyone would mind if you had some more ...

"I understand your parents are unable to contribute very much towards the cost of your wedding. (There is nothing wrong with that except that convention is such that one might presume they would have saved for their daughters' marriages.) If this is the case, it would be most ladylike and gracious to lower your sights and have a modest wedding."

This one really touches a nerve. It is just not the done thing to be talking about how much people can or cannot afford. It sounds as though the husband's parents are being expected to fork out lots of cash for the 'castle wedding' and if that's the case then I think she has a right to protest about the wedding being very expensive. It is usually the bride's parents who are more involved financially than the groom's, but surely in this day and age the couple should be paying for their own wedding?? If you can't afford it, don't do it.

The whole email strikes of absolute frustration - a woman at the end of her tether. We all do things we may regret later. I have written many a letter that was never sent, but in this age of emails all you need to do is press that send button with a feather like touch and your bile is off and flowing throughout the universe forever.

Of course, one would hope that family members like this would be able to talk to each other, but sadly this is not always the case and definitely not in this couple's lives. Not only is it sad that the email was written in the first place, but how mean to send it to everyone you know.

The thing that really got to me in all this  is the way people mocked the need for manners. To me they are massively important and you are judged and judge others by their manners. Can you use your knife and fork correctly? Can you address a letter correctly? Are you respectful to others? Do you eat with your mouth open, or in the street?

I may sound a little old fashioned, but to me manners, good manners, are essential. It may not matter to some people, but it all comes down to respect for one another. When I see children who come to tea and have no idea how to sit at a table and eat politely, or who get up from the table immediately they have finished I get quite annoyed. I know that my boys have good manners and if they brought home a girl who ate like a pig and, slept all morning and paid no regard to anyone's feelings I would be very disappointed. Knowing my boys though I think the chances are that they will bring home someone lovely.

1 comment:

Urban Cynic said...

I think the comments about the cheap parents was a little below the belt as they'd lost their jobs, but I remember thinking that it did sound like their potential daughter-in-law needed to learn some manners - but what an ill-mannered way of telling her!