Maintaining Etiquette-fulness
with Relatives

Family Drawing

Connected by blood or marriage, relatives add richness and value to our lives.  And sometimes tension.  Yet, cordiality is still called for.

Derived from Middle English meaning “belonging to the heart,” cordial familial relationships ideally foster an atmosphere of kindness and neighborliness.  While this is usually the case, naturally there are times when family members are the very ones who cause each other hurt and disappointment.

You Hurt the Ones You Love

We probably agree that people act more politely to strangers than they do with their own relatives.  When true, it may be because they take for granted that family members will love them, regardless.  

The old pop standard, “You Always Hurt the One You Love,” expresses sentiment that reveals a paradox – and not only for lovers.  Children inadvertently hurt parents as they express individuality and independence.  The jealousies of siblings or other family members bring hurt, most often unintended.  

Being vulnerable, some family members can be extra sensitive during these circumstances. And rudeness, felt deeply, is sometimes viewed in terms of betrayal of loyalty.

Treat Your Relatives Like Guests

When guests visit your home, courtesy and kindness abound.  You clean your home before they arrive, you offer beverages, snacks, or a meal, you introduce them to others in attendance and ensure their comfort while visiting.

Whether or not you share a household with them, relatives deserve the same treatment.  Think about it – if every member of a household treated each other with the same courtesy and kindness they would show a guest, the result would be a very harmonious home! 

Here are 10 etiquette-ful cordialities you can maintain to contribute harmony in your household:

  1. Apologize when you’ve made a mistake.
  2. No name-calling.
  3. Don’t yell, shout, or interrupt a family member who is speaking.
  4. “Please,” “Thank you,” and “I understand” go a long way as daily habits.
  5. Grant others personal space and boundaries. 
  6. No cell phones or accepting calls or texts at the table.
  7. Employ respectful dining manners.  Chew with your mouth closed.  Ask before taking the last helping of food.  
  8. Clean up and pick up after yourself.
  9. Respect idiosyncrasies and personal challenges of family members.
  10. Don’t share family secrets.

It’s All About Family

When tended respectfully, relationships with relatives grow to be very strong, even when lifestyles and personalities have little in common.  These relationships are important because we count on family members for a variety of support throughout our lives.  

It seems that no matter where life takes us, the bonds of love and compassion that exist within our family are rarely broken.  Etiquette-fulness shown by everyone ensures this will remain so. After all, it’s all about family!

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