I’m 13 and fed up because my parents are always nagging me about manners. They said it was up to me to learn what that means since they’ve “tried to teach me and I’ve ignored them.” So what does this mean?

Well, attitude has a lot to do with good manners. For example, instead of demanding here, “So what does this mean?” you might turn your demand into a request and add a “please” to your question. How you treat others has everything to do with good manners and that includes your parents and your siblings. Carry your share of the responsibility without having to be nagged to do as you were asked. Be nice to everyone in your house. Be a good friend. Never act snobby, don’t gossip, don’t speak unkindly of others, be on time, and be friendly. No cell phones at the dinner table, and give your undivided attention to someone who is speaking to you. Of course the use of please and thank you and your best table manners, things you likely were taught when you were a toddler, are still signs of excellent manners throughout life. All of this is about respect. If you show respect, you will be respected in turn. That really is not asking too much. It’s all about the Golden Rule. Do onto others as you would have them do onto you. Here’s a tip: When you use good manners at home, you are much more likely to use them everywhere else.  

Which way do you pass serving dishes at the table? I’ve been at a couple of dinners where dishes were coming to me from both directions.

Dishes should be passed counter-clockwise. Since most people have to pause to think which way that is, here’s an easier way to remember: Pass a serving bowl to the person on your right. Also, serving dishes should be passed with the serving fork or spoon, and salt and pepper should be passed together. Always pass a dish placed in front of you when the meal begins.

When addressing an envelope to a very young girl/boy, do you ever use the words “Master/Miss” and up to what age would this be appropriate?  When does the title “Mr./Ms.” kick in? Recently, I sent a card to an 18-year-old young man and just addressed it with his name.  Actually I tend to do this with adults too, unless it is Mr. and Mrs.

A girl is addressed as Miss until she becomes Mrs., technically, but in reality she is Miss as a little girl into her early teens and then Ms. is used at about high school age, and she can be Ms., used with her first name, for life (unless she prefers Miss, which is not usually the case). A boy may be addressed as Master until about age 7 when he has no title until age 18 when Mr. precedes his name. Odd, but that’s the age-old etiquette practice.

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