The Alabama Housewife

The Alabama Housewife

Words by Mary Alayne Long

If we are going to supper at a friend’s house is it okay to pack a meal for our child who is a picky eater?

Absolutely. If your hostess is kind enough to include children in the grown up evening, she should not be expected to cook for the little ones too. The very least you can do is bring what your child will enjoy eating in addition to whatever hostess gift you take along with you.

I just moved to a new state. What is the best way to get to know my new neighbors?

My first suggestion is to join a church. Of course, I’m going to recommend the nearest Methodist congregation as I can attest that our hearts, our minds, and our doors are open. However, any church where you feel comfortable and welcome is the perfect choice. It’s the easiest way to meet new people and to find ways to get involved in community service. And as we all know, the easiest way to make a new friend is to be one.

I like to go to bed early. I also love to host dinner parties. How can I make sure people don’t stay too late without seeming inhospitable?

I completely understand. My husband once went to bed in the middle of a cocktail party we were hosting. No joke. When he’s ready for bed—he goes to bed. Years later our friends know this about him and they don’t expect him to participate in much of anything past about 8:30 or 9:00 at night. He’s known for announcing “I better go on to bed so all these folks can go home.” Since I’m sure you don’t want to follow his lead, you could always host a brunch to make things easier for yourself. If you stick to dinner parties, make the schedule clear beforehand and your guests won’t be inclined to overstay their welcome....which is almost as rude as going to bed during a party. Almost.

Are etiquette classes for children under ten worth it?

It is never too early to start teaching children good manners, and I think ten may even be a late start. By that age, they need to know how to set the table and how to behave properly while seated there, how to politely answer phone calls, how to shake hands and introduce themselves, how to make their bed and keep their room neat... the list goes on and on. However, I don’t think it is necessary to send 
your children out for special classes if you don’t want to. Home Training is designed to be learned at home. 

How can I raise my little boy to be a strong man and to be sensitive? I constantly fight the urge to tell him to “dry it up” when he’s upset about silly things.

Don’t fight that urge. No child needs to be falling apart at the drop of a hat. It’s okay to tell boys (and girls) to straighten up and fly right. We need strong men in this world. You can teach your son to be thoughtful and kind and helpful and strong all at once. Trust me—those kinds of men really do exist. I married one and raised another.