Specially geared to today's teenagers, this revised edition of Emily Post Talks with Teens About Manners and Etiquette offers friendly advice on everything from talking on the phone, dining at fancy restaurants, going on a date, giving parties, and much more.
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About the Author
Elizabeth L. Post, granddaughter-in-law of the legendary Emily Post, has earned the mantle of her predecessor as America's foremost authority on etiquette. Mrs. Post has revised the classic Etiquette five times since 1965.
Read an Excerpt
It has often been said, "Manners begin at home." It's true--and they begin with you. No matter how hard your parents may have tried to drill good manners into you, you will not make manners a part of your life until you realize the importance of kindness and courtesy toward others.
You probably figured out as a child that you got more of what you wanted when you smiled, or said please and thank you. Now that you are a teen, however, more is expected of you. Those bad table manners that your family let slide may now embarrass you in front of your friends or their parents. Now you're expected to meet and make conversation with a date's parents or a prospective employer, but no one has ever really taught you how to make conversation with an adult you wish to impress. You can do it! Just remember that etiquette is basically common sense and thoughtful behavior. The rules of etiquette provide you with guidelines on how to act in almost every situation involving contact with other people. They provide a bridge between you and your parents, you and your friends, and between your childhood and your adulthood.
Whether you live with one or both parents, stepparents, grandparents, foster parents, or adoptive parents, your family and your home (good or bad) are a big part of your world. Have you thought about what you can do to make your relationship with your parents better, or do you just blame your parents for all your troubles? Sometimes to get, you gotta give! Try a few of our tips and see if they help.
If yourparents seem "out of it," it may be because you've left them out. Clue them in to what's going on with you in your life, and pay attention to what's going on in theirs. Notice that the times they seem unreasonable are probably the times they are preoccupied with their own troubles, or when they don't feel they have enough information about a situation, or don't understand it well enough to make a decision. If you feel that your parents have treated you unfairly, or that you have been misunderstood, talk about it.
Frankness and communication are vital to family harmony. If you have something on your mind, speak up! Often your parents are wondering why you've been moping around the house for days. . . and they may be relieved to hear that the only thing bothering you is that you need a raise in your allowance. The reverse is also true. If your Dad has been on edge lately, ask him if it's something you've done or failed to do. You may be relieved to hear that his stress has to do with something outside the home--perhaps the loss of an important sale at the office.
Airing problems remains the best way to solve or at least diminish them.
Something on your mind?
Need to talk about it?
Not sure how?
Choose your time carefully. People are more inclined to listen if you approach them at a time when they are not otherwise occupied. If you're having trouble finding a time when your Dad is free to talk with you, make an appointment. Say something like, "Dad, we need to talk. When would be a good time?" When it is important to you, don't be put off by a casual response. If Dad says he can talk "later," then ask a follow-up question: "OK, Dad, I'll be home from basketball practice at 8:30 tonight. Can we talk then?" Your willingness to pursue an issue is a sign of growing maturity that may come as a pleasant surprise to your parents.
Choose your words carefully. Always begin your comments with "I" rather than "You." Statements such as, "I am angry that I can't go to the party next week. I've agreed to my regular curfew rather than asking for a later one. My friend's parents will be home. I don't understand what your concern is. I feel like you don't trust me," is more effective and makes your listener less defensive than, "You are being so unreasonable. All the other parents are letting their kids go to the party next week. What's the matter with you?"
Mention your feelings. Did you notice that the above statements not only began with "I" but also included an expression of what you were feeling? When someone else understands your feelings, it may change the way they view the situation and once in a while even affect the outcome. Perhaps you aren't allowed to go to the party because your parents made plans that require you to babysit that night. Once they understand how you feel, maybe they'll offer to hire a babysitter instead.
Keep an open mind. In spite of your best efforts to remain calm and communicate your feelings clearly and honestly, you may not always get the outcome you want. Your parents still may not let you go to the party. Try to be as open to, and considerate of, their feelings and concerns as you want them to be about yours.
You've probably noticed that things run more smoothly when you are organized. Nevertheless, you don't always feel like being organized. If you want to reduce conflict with your family, though, a little advance planning does help.
Your parents may be more willing and able to get the materials you need for a special project, drive you to a special function, or plan a special meal if you let them know further in advance than the night before that there's a report due on Thursday, a party on Friday, and a friend coming over on Saturday. Maybe a weekly "scheduling" meeting with your parents would help. Or even a family calendar hanging in the kitchen.
The best thing about cooperation is that it goes both ways. If your Dad makes a lot of phone calls for business at night, negotiate times when the phone is available to you. But if you come home from school and use your computer modem to cruise the Internet for a couple of hours, remember that someone else in the family may need to use the phone while you're tying it up. You may also need to negotiate the times you want to use the television, VCR, or sound system, or even the times you simply want to be alone for whatever reason: homework, writing in your journal, quiet reflection, or an uninterrupted shower.
There was a time when almost every family was headed by two adults who were married to each other. The husband and father worked outside the home, and the wife and mother stayed home to raise their children. Some families are still like that, but many others are not. You may be living with a single parent, a parent and a stepparent, a relative, or dividing your time between parents. Because of such living arrangements, and because in many families both parents work, you may have to take responsibility for yourself and help out running your household.
If your parents' work means a lot of alone time for you, rather than feeling sorry for yourself use your time alone to enjoy a hobby, get a head start on the homework, or listen to your favorite music really loud! (But be considerate of your neighbors if you live in close quarters.)
Every teen needs some "down" time--time spent doing something relaxing or to chill out and do nothing at all. Adults need down time, too. When your parents work and you are in school, no one has time to do all the chores. But if each person does a few, then everyone has time to relax. Pick some of the chores you don't mind, and volunteer to do those.
You'd be surprised what a difference it makes--in your parents' mood and in the appearance of the house. Put your dirty clothes and towels in the hamper, wash (or put in the dishwasher) the dishes you dirty throughout the day, pick up messes you make in the family room, kitchen, and bath.
When you're away from home. . .
Always carry money for a phone call. If you lose your key, miss your bus, or have car trouble, you'll be able to call someone to help you.
Hide your house key in an unlikely place or take it with you. Hiding it under the doormat, in the mailbox, or on a nail in the garage is too obvious. See if you can think of a place no one would ever think to look, preferably some distance from the door. Or consider leaving a key with a neighbor who's home all day, for emergencies.
Don't accept rides from strangers. I know your parents have been telling you this since you were old enough to cross the street: No matter how nice someone may seem, if you don't know them--don't get in the car. Kids have been raped or murdered by someone who claimed to be a friend of a friend, or a friend of their parents. If you drive and have car trouble, put on your emergency flasher and lock your doors. Ask anyone who stops to call the police for you. It's a good idea to carry a "Call Police" sign for your back window in times of trouble. Call your police department for details.
When you return home. . .