Emily Post's Gift of Good Manners: A Parent's Guide to Raising Respectful, Kind, Considerate Childrenby Peggy Post, Cindy Post Senning
Manners, fundamental social skills for success in life, are among the greatest gifts parents can give. From self-respect and respect for others to knowing how to behave in public, this comprehensive, practical guide helps parents instill age-appropriate manners as their child’s world expands from toddlerhood through the teen years. This is a must-have
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Manners, fundamental social skills for success in life, are among the greatest gifts parents can give. From self-respect and respect for others to knowing how to behave in public, this comprehensive, practical guide helps parents instill age-appropriate manners as their child’s world expands from toddlerhood through the teen years. This is a must-have resource for every family.
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Emily Post's the Gift of Good MannersA Parent's Guide to Raising Respectful, Kind, Considerate Children
By Peggy Post
HarperResourceCopyright © 2005 Peggy Post
All right reserved.
Building the Foundations
At some point -- usually between six and twelve weeks -- your baby will look at you and smile. As days and weeks go by, she will learn to greet you with expressions of both recognition and pleasure. These are among her earliest forays into the parent-child relationship. She is learning to trust you and to depend on your presence in her life. As she wakes to the world, her trust in you forms the bedrock for all her experiences to come.
Over her first twelve months, your baby will acquire an astonishing array of physical and mental skills, progressing from an almost totally reactive being who responds instinctively to physical stimuli (an empty tummy, a wet diaper, a sudden noise) to one who makes deliberate choices. She will begin to master her body and start to manipulate her environment -- grasping objects she wants, for example. She will learn to distinguish her primary caregivers and cling to them. Around five or six months, she will become delightfully sociable. She will begin to sense herself as a separate being and learn to recognize her name. She will be driven to explore by her limitless curiosity.From birth to twelve months, a baby is an incredibly busy little person.
You're the Model
You will not actively teach the principles or guidelines of etiquette for several years to come. But from the day she is born, you will be helping your child build her foundations for life. As babies develop, they increasingly learn through imitation. What you do will provide the example of how people act and interact. By your example and with the introduction of a few limits in the second half of your child's first year, you begin to establish patterns that will eventually translate into appropriate manners, conduct, and concern for the well-being of others.
By meeting your baby's physical and safety needs and giving her the fullness of your affection and attention, you are establishing trust and love -- the two great pillars of teaching and learning. Whatever the form of your nuclear family -- two parents, single parent, grandparents or other guardian as principal caregiver, adoptive or blended family -- you are the central figure in your infant's life and will be for many years. With your love and attention now, your child will be well on her way to becoming a loving, attentive, and considerate member of the human race.
Visits and Gifts
Because hospital stays after an uncomplicated birth are as short as a day or two, it's fairly easy to put off visitors until you return home. The problem with the early homecoming is that a postpartum mother often feels far from well yet, and both mother and father are coping with their new duties. Hopefully, family and friends will be both sensible and sensitive.
Most people will phone before coming to visit. If you are not up to receiving guests, you can explain and suggest alternative days and times. If people drop by unexpectedly, you can't turn them away, but you can set some limits. ("Gosh, it Is good to see you. We Just got the baby to sleep about twenty minutes ago. Let's visit for a while, but if she doesn't wake before you leave, we can plan another time." Your friend will get your message.)
Young children or any child who is ill should not visit a home with a newborn. If friends call in advance, you can head off a problem. ("We'd love to have little Charlie over, too, but our pediatrician insists that the baby shouldn't be around other children for a few weeks yet. Tell Charlie that we'll miss him this time.") If parents with young children show up unannounced, your best tactic is to put your baby in her room or yours immediately. Your uninvited guests may think you're being overly protective, but as long as you are polite, they will have no reason to complain.
About Baby Showers
Baby showers are usually given before a birth but may be given after your baby arrives. Co-workers, for example, may host a shower after new parents (dads as well as moms) return to the job. Showers for adopting parents can be held before or after the legal process is completed. Invitations to a shower never include gift suggestions. (A gift -- any gift -- is always the choice of the giver.) You can provide the hostess or host with a list of items you may need so that she can advise anyone who asks for a gift recommendation. If you provide a list, be conscious of the financial capabilities of the guests. Send a thank-you note to anyone who gave a gift but did not attend, including those who contributed to a group gift.
A grandparents shower is hosted for new grandparents by their friends. Although gifts are given to the grandparent for the new grandchild, it is the parents' responsibility to write thank-you notes.
A grandparent or other close adult may be able to run interference and deflect inconvenient visits. Also, let your home phone answering machine take calls during your busiest times, and you won't be caught by surprise when someone asks to drop by. You should return the calls as promptly as possible, but the answering machine gives you time to collect your thoughts and avoid a flustered response. Requests to visit will probably ease up after a few weeks. Your baby's christening, brit or brit bat, or other observance will satisfy most people's desire to see the baby and congratulate you in person.
When you feel capable, use your spare time to complete thank-you notes and calls. While you should respond to gift givers as soon you can, people are generally understanding about short delays, especially in the weeks just before and after a baby's birth. But for gifts sent by mail or delivery service, phone the givers as soon as possible to let them know that their presents have arrived. (E-mail will work if you know that the person will understand the casual nature of your message.) Then follow up with a thank-you note.
Writing thank-you notes can be done by both parents. If you have older children, it will be a good lesson for them to see you thanking the people who have been so kind to the new baby.
Excerpted from Emily Post's the Gift of Good Manners by Peggy Post Copyright © 2005 by Peggy Post. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Meet the Author
Peggy Post, Emily Post’s great-granddaughter-in-law, is a director of The Emily Post Institute and the author of more than a dozen books. Peggy writes a monthly column in Good Housekeeping and an online wedding etiquette column for the New York Times.
Cindy Post Senning, Ed.D., codirector of The Emily Post Institute, Inc., developed a training program for etiquette educators and conducts children's etiquette workshops across the U.S. and overseas. Cindy is the coauthor of all the Emily Post children's books, with her sister-in-law, Peggy Post.
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