WHY PEOPLE LACK TABLE MANNERS
By Annabelle Macford
“Good afternoon Annnabelle. I believe your Sunday has been good. I just read your piece on Table Manners in your magazine … I agree with your submissions but I have some questions, why do you think many people lack these manners? What kind of home does generality of people come from where such manners are taught from cradle? As Nigerians, you will be surprised at the number of people that still eat with their fingers. So I think your next piece should x-ray the sources of our mannerisms”. Thanks, Dr Uzoma.
After reading this comment from one of my esteemed readers and acknowledging the necessity of letting the public know the causes of these bad table habits, I have decided to oblige him by discussing the sources (causes) of bad table manners.
A lot of people know nothing about table manners. If put in percentage, we could say that 70 percent of Nigerians do not know their table manners; it is indeed sad because the issue of table manners ought to be amongst the early days training every child should get. I insist, giving birth to a child and sending the child to school is not all a child needs to make him/her a well-cultured individual. A child that has the proper and necessary grooming especially from home not only stands out, but develops a certain self-confidence, an aura that says “I’ve got it”. There are lots of factors that contribute and more or less form the table habits of an individual.
- THE FAMILY: Have you stopped to ask “why do some parents insist on their kids eating on a table”? Why do some parents make rules like DO NOT TALK WHILE EATING? Some mothers will even go ahead to tell their daughters “sit up straight!” From the home front, my advice to every parent is, insist that your kids eat on a dining table, set the table with a table knife and a fork, correct them at home where they cannot be embarrassed. It will amount to embarrassment if they are corrected outside the home. No table manners can be learned by sitting on the floor or sitting on the bed to eat. Since you can’t give what you don’t have, parents should spend time to equip themselves with sufficient knowledge on child grooming. Some parents eat on the bed in their homes, some also talk with food in their mouth, some eat western dishes with their fingers, chew loudly while eating and we tend to forget that we are the “god” that these children know and see. They copy us and then it develops into horrifying table manners. If I were to judge, I will blame a child’s poor table habits on the parents.
- SCHOOLS: I attended Federal Government Girls’ College Abuloma, Rivers State (God bless my Alma Mater). Now, anyone who knows the drill in a typical Federal Government boarding school knows how compulsory it is to eat on your dining table and how bad your punishment will be if you are caught eating without a complete cutlery set(a knife and a fork). The compulsory use of this cutlery set included both for the western dishes and our typical African meal. A child who misses such training at home, gets it from the school. I have also seen some nursery and primary schools that have added table manners into their school curriculum. If every school can adopt this idea, it will help instill proper grooming into every child and ultimately into every adult. Teachers should receive training as regards table manners, so they can have proper knowledge of what to imbibe in the kids. In some tertiary institutions, dinners are organized for students, the idea is not just to avail them the opportunity to network and ease off, it is also done to enhance their table manners, if only the students will take advantage of such dinners to improve on their table manners. Do you know that in some schools, some teachers will eat with their fingers right in front of the kids? Teachers please take heed, the kids are watching you.
I submit that the two major factors that influence our table manners are the family and the school. These two areas as grooming grounds, if handled properly, will go a long way to instilling proper table manners in our children thus making them well cultured young men and women before they ever get to the workp