—Elder Bruce R. McConkie
We practice good manners when we show love, respect, and gratitude to those around us. Our Heavenly Father is pleased when we use good manners in our associations with all of his children.
Write a list of polite, courteous words and phrases on a chalkboard or a piece of paper. Discuss with your family why they are words which show courtesy, politeness, and good manners. You may use the following examples or any which apply in your area:
You are welcome.
Take my seat.
Let me share.
You go first.
Let me help.
Use questions such as the following to help your family discuss why good manners are so important in our lives:
What are some qualities of people you know who show good manners? (Thoughtful, kind, loving, respectful, grateful.)
Why are good manners more than just words? (They come from feelings in our hearts.)
Point out that the words on the list actually say something more important than they appear to be saying. They say “I like you;” “I care about you;” “I respect you;” “I am grateful to you.” (See 1 Peter 3:8.)
Ask family members to describe situations in which they can use the words on the list.
Why do these words, if spoken sincerely, always create good feelings?
Read and discuss the statement by Elder Bruce R. McConkie found at the beginning of this lesson.
To help your family understand the difference that good manners can make in their lives, write the statements below on slips of paper and place them in a hat or bowl. Have each family member in turn draw one out and give his ideas of how good manners could bring about that result. Invite family members to add more statements of their own.
Create a loving atmosphere at home.
Improve relationships with other people.
Make a business organization run more smoothly.
Make a better community (or country or world).
Strengthen priesthood quorums or Church classes.
Help Church activities and projects to succeed.
Plan a special dinner at which your family can practice good table manners. Make assignments as needed. Plan a menu of favorite family foods (they need not be expensive). Plan to set the table using proper rules for table setting, your best tablecloth, dishes, and decorations.
Explain and demonstrate the good manners that you want your family to learn. Have all family members practice them during the dinner.
You could repeat this kind of dinner as many times as you wish to help your family make good table manners a habit.
Write down some situations your family members might face which would require them to use good manners, along with three or four possible solutions to the situations.
Go over the situations with your family and choose which of the answers show good manners. (More than one answer may be right.)
The following are examples:
Mary is supposed to clear the dishes after dinner every evening. Usually she forgets. One night she does a good job without a reminder. Her parents should (a) remark to each other that Mary finally remembered, (b) avoid compliments because it’s just a job she’s supposed to do, (c) make special notice, calling Mary’s actions to the attention of the family, (d) tell Mary they are very pleased with what she has done.
You are on a bus or streetcar. After you take the last seat, an elderly woman gets on the bus. You should (a) get up and offer her your seat, (b) hide your face in a magazine or newspaper, (c) let her stand because she’ll soon find a seat, (d) rationalize by thinking, “First come, first serve.”
Mother has fixed your favorite dinner dish. You are the first to serve yourself. You should (1) take the biggest piece, (2) take a medium piece and hope there is some left, (3) leave the biggest for someone else because others like the dish also, (4) decide that someone should have the largest piece, so why not you.
Encourage family members to think of other situations that may be a problem to your family and decide what would be the courteous thing to do. If you do not have the answer to a situation, assign a family member to find it.
Ask a family member to knock at the door and come in as a visitor. Ask family members to treat this person as if he is a visitor to your home. Afterwards discuss this question: Do we treat visitors in our home with more courtesy than we treat each other?
Ask family members to discuss why the home is the best place to practice good manners. You may want to summarize the discussion by pointing out that courtesy is often hardest to practice at home because family members are so familiar to us and because we are in so many types of situations with family members. It is at home, therefore, that we show whether we are truly courteous or not.
Set the following week as a Good Manners Week for your family. During this week, try to use good manners continually in your home. Encourage your family to make posters, wordstrips, table decorations, clever messages on bathroom mirrors, or other reminders to family members to be courteous.
Ephesians 4:31–32 (Be ye kind one to another.)
Galatians 5:22 (Fruit of the Spirit is love.)
See also “Courtesy” in the Topical Guide.
“Kindness Begins with Me,” Children’s Songbook, p. 145.
“Let Us Oft Speak Kind Words,” Hymns, no. 232.