Table Manners, Children and Vintage Silver

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Table Manners Children

Louis XV strawberry fork...we like to use them for...well read on and see.

“Your 7 year old uses the silver when he eats?” Yes, he does. Why wouldn’t he? Good table manners for children are important to me, and I’m absolutely sure they will be valuable to him. And how else is he going to learn unless it’s something we actually use, do, and practice every day.

But what if he breaks something?

Then I’ll get it fixed. But it’s much more difficult to “break” a piece of vintage silver than you think. In all the years we’ve been using the silver as our every day flatware the worst “damage” has been done by Mr. Silver Magpies. He used a Georgian spoon as an ice cream scoop…and frankly as rock hard as that ice cream was ANY spoon would have been in danger.

So objection number one about breaking things really isn’t on my worry list.

What I do worry about…

As readers of this blog and e-book Every Day Best know, I’m concerned that attitudes about silver being only “for best” are actually leading to the de-valuation of these beautiful, useful, thoughtful objects. When we lose a connection with things and never use them, how can we expect our children to value them?

Just look at any estate sale to see the consequences of storing things away and never using them. No one in the family values them, so off to the highest bidder they go.

I don’t want him to take these things for granted. It’s vital that he understand how incredibly fortunate we are.

Lead by example…

Plastic utensils, plates and cups are never going to teach him what he needs to know. Since he was very small, he has used the same items we have. It isn’t a cavalier attitude of not valuing these things that promotes this practice. Quite to the contrary …I do, very much. I value them so much, I want him to understand my enjoyment of them first hand. Hopefully he will develop an appreciation of them for himself.

Evey time we sit down to dinner (or any other meal) we are establishing “normal”. It’s normal for him to use silver, china, and a real glass. It’s equally normal for him to be expected to behave and use table manners, whether at home or out.

Table manners, children and vintage silver

Table manners for children (or anyone else) are something that need to be practiced every day. I think it’s unrealistic to expect a child to suddenly know how to behave outside the home unless they are held to the same standard inside it too.

Don’t tell anyone, but it’s also fun…

We chat about the marks and what they mean. He always loves finding an English piece which has the George III tax stamp on it. He gets a kick to think that it was put there to show taxes were paid on that piece, in order to pay for, among other things, my country’s side of the Revolutionary War! That often leads us on to other topics…and who knows where we’ll end up.

Table manners children, Vintage silver strawberry fork and flat handle butter spreader

The vintage silver strawberry fork is great for spearing hot dogs done on the grill and flat handled butter spreaders make great kids knives.

We also like to experiment with re-purposing. I think his favorite so far is using strawberry forks for hot dogs! He’s going through a hot dog phase at the moment and has decided that these forks are perfect for the purpose. I like them for all sorts of uses too. If I just left them for strawberry season, we’d never see them πŸ™


All you parents out there, do you let your kids use “the good” stuff?

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12 thoughts on “Table Manners, Children and Vintage Silver

  1. quintessenceNo Gravatar

    Great piece Nan! My kids all have engraved sterling napkin rings that we used all the time. I somehow fell out of the habit – will have to get back into it!! Table manners are huge in our house. My attitude is like with anything else – they should know the right way to do things – if they then want to abandon them as adults – that’s their prerogative. But I want them to be able to go anywhere and feel confident that they know the proper way to behave. And as you say – it can lead to other interesting conversations as well!!

    1. SilverMagpiesNo Gravatar Post author

      Thanks so much Stacey. I feel the same way, if he decides to abandon the habit when he’s older that’s fine. Easier to do that way than suddenly acquire (and not be self-conscious about) manners on a very important date πŸ™‚

  2. stitchforkNo Gravatar

    You have educated and reformed me – now using great-grandma’s silver! Table manners, and all other manners as well, are important here. And the guys’ friends over the years have learned from that too and act accordingly when here. But I did get quite a bit of use out of those non-breakable Corell plates with no worries when they loaded up the dishwasher! Great post Nan!

    1. SilverMagpiesNo Gravatar Post author

      I’m flattered πŸ™‚ And from comments here as well as on other social media platforms, it seems I have struck a chord. I’ll chalk that up to luck not skill!

  3. Julie LoRussoNo Gravatar

    yes I do! Drew prefers drinking out of glasses with stems πŸ™‚ and although we don’t use fine china everyday, I do pull it and my silver flatware out regularly when we’re hosting friends and family and everyone (children and adults) has the same settings.

    Great post!

    1. SilverMagpiesNo Gravatar Post author

      Thanks for your kind words as well. It’s always reassuring to know other people are on the same page.

      As Stacey and I discussed a few comments up, it’s always good to provide them with options.

  4. Lisa La NasaNo Gravatar

    Thanks for this great post, Nancy! Our daughter is only 3-1/2, but has always used metal flatware- albeit not silver. I don’t agree with kids being raised with plastic-everything. Table manners ARE crucial and we’re working on the proper place settings right now πŸ™‚

    I have a two beautiful silver flatware sets waiting as an inheritance, but they’re the type that are rarely used. I cherish them for their beauty and love my father and grandmother have for them, but I can assure you, I will use them daily. It is such a beautiful way to remember relatives, through incorporating their cherished possessions into everyday life.

    1. SilverMagpiesNo Gravatar Post author

      I’m so glad to hear you say that Lisa! As with everything whether it’s teaching kids manners or using something, if you start as you mean to go on, it makes the whole process a lot easier. It’s just a habit!

  5. Lisabeth RosenbergNo Gravatar

    Yes, I agree! Love this post. Cherish and ENJOY the nice things you have. Take out the things in you curio and scatter them where people will see. You don’t want to live in a museum.? Unfortunately, with just a boy at home, I will be surprised if he has the same appreciation for the heirlooms preserved and passed on to me by my parents and grandparents. I will still be an advocate of such things and attempt to promote their beauty but, I fear they are becoming lost treasures. La vita e` bella!

    1. SilverMagpiesNo Gravatar Post author

      Lisabeth –

      Welcome to Silver Magpies and thank you so much for your gracious and thoughtful comment! It makes my heart sing to see other people speak of cherishing by Enjoying!!

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