By Annie Osteen
Here we are. It’s 2017 and now that the holidays are behind us it’s time for planning of other things such as springtime and summer weddings. The months and days pass by so quickly it’s hard to believe that wedding and springtime topics abound.
As many ladies in the area are talking with local florists, event planners and dress designers about planning their perfect day, the topic of whether or not to invite children to their big celebration can be a heavy one. If the answer is yes, then the responsibilities of the children maintaining proper and respectable behavior during the occasion now rests in the laps of their parents.
When a parent opens their mailbox to find a wedding invitation and sees their children have also been invited, it can either leave them feeling excited or daunted. If teens are the children in question, most often it shouldn’t even arise as an issue on whether they will follow the rules and show respect to the bride and groom. On the other hand, if the children are under the age of perhaps eight or nine years old, the parent may feel more inclined to call a babysitter, unless of course, it’s family, and there are no other options but to bring the children along for the ride.
Teaching children how to behave at the grocery store, let alone a wedding can be challenging. In the store the parent may bribe the screaming toddler with a piece of candy just to get through the checkout line. What are the options at a wedding? Well, there aren’t many other than physically leaving the ceremony to take the child somewhere else, in which case, the parent misses the special moments they came to see.
In order to make the day (and night) go smoothly, a child should know some basic manners and etiquette. Nothing too “Emily Post,” but enough to keep the parents, guests and especially the bride and groom less anxious.
While etiquette as a whole has seemed to take a downward turn in our society, there are some things that shouldn’t disappear, such as the basic “please and thank you.” And while that won’t be enough to get a young child safely through the reception without accidentally bumping into the cake table, it’s one of those things adults will notice about them and the parents they belong to. Manners are most often developed from their parents and will generally show up when they’re needed most, such as a wedding.
However, many parents struggle with the consistency of teaching good manners. Living a busy life is the norm and sometimes basic etiquette takes a back seat behind baseball and cheerleading. There are organizations, such as the National League of Junior Cotillions (NLJC) that can help teach a young child (or teenager) simple, everyday manners that will do more for them in the long run than a charged-up resume.
The National League of Junior Cotillions has a Williamson County chapter and is a three-year curriculum designed to coach young people in the gentilities that make life more enjoyable for them and those around them. Through the NLJC, children in grades 5-8 are offered the opportunity to exercise these skills at parties, events and dinners. They are taught how to properly acknowledge a gift that has been given to them, dress codes for different occasions, sports etiquette and how to make a good first impression. Topics such as having honor, dignity, respect, honesty, fairness, accountability, having a caring attitude as well as citizenship are also thoroughly covered through cotillion.
The organization also offers a program for children in grades 1-4. The Pre-Cotillion, as it’s called, offers instruction that encompasses simple etiquette such as being introduced to someone, shaking a hand, paying and receiving compliments and basic table manners.
While joining a cotillion organization may not be a quick fix for teaching children manners to use at an upcoming wedding, it does prepare them for future weddings, which will be plentiful. Even without the cotillion, lessons in manners and basic etiquette at home can help a child rise to their fullest potential as they grow. And while Emily Post’s teachings aren’t as popular as they once were, the simple premise of what she was known for can always bind a society together.
To find a National League of Junior Cotillions near you, visit nljc.com.