With three sons and one daughter, it’s important that I set aside some time to connect and teach Dylan how to be a lady. Even if you’re raising a tomboy (which I am), every mom needs to hone in on some refining skills to polish your rough and tough little girl. There is nothing wrong with your daughter playing with sticks and bugs, but at the end of the day, you still want to raise her to be gracious, kind and polite.
I could remember as a little one myself, when I did something that wasn’t lady-like, my grandmother would tell me, looking me straight in the eye: “Little ladies don’t do that.”
I find it crucial today to raise a girl who is courteous to others, aware of where she is, and is able to know how she should and shouldn’t behave. Having manners is very important in our family, after all, we are a military family, and to add, my husband was raised in the South.
So who better to turn to for advice than my polished Southern friends in Wilmington, NC. I think they all went to Emily Post Grad School and majored in Jackie O. refinement. There are no better women to show you how to raise girls with manners than these women. And my go-to girl is Tracee Meyer who has seen great success first hand with her business, Cape Fear Cotillion.
The word cotillion was first used in 18th-century France and England to describe a group dance that is considered to be a forebearer of the square dance.
Turn to the Pros For Raising A Lady
Recently, I had a babysitter speak to me with such poor manners that I was a little taken back. When I reminded her to be at my house on a Saturday at a certain time, she would respond with a “Yep.” I do not want my girls (or my boys for that matter!) to talk that way to people, never mind those that are employing you.
Sadly, she never showed up to work and never reached out to apologize. I found that to be worse than not showing up. I would think at the least a nice heartfelt apology would be coming my way. Instead, I got nothing. It was really shocking that this young woman had no manners or regard for our family.
That’s when I knew I had to tap into my resources (Tracee to the rescue!) to make sure Dylan never acts this way. After all, there’s something gracious about a lady. She stands out without doing so on purpose. Her life speaks louder than her words and there’s a gentle humility that others are drawn to. And that is exactly what I would like for my Dylan. That’s why I turned to the experts for some sound advice.
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7 Must-Know Tips for Raising A Lady From the Cape Fear Cotillion
Be the Example
It’s a fact that children repeat what they see. They soak everything up like sponges. If mom and dad have manners then that’s great. If they don’t then they are in for a rude awakening. We try very hard to be stellar examples for our little girl.
Watch Your Words
Sure our kids argue, but if my little girl uses words that will hurt her brothers we nip it in the bud right on the spot. We encourage using nice words with compliments and praise. We never want her hurting other people with her words.
Being Sweet and Graceful
You want your daughter to always display confidence, be sweet and graceful. I have seen the opposite and it’s scary when girls come over that jump off the walls breaking toys and being rude. I really am perturbed when I see this behavior in children, but then again it’s not my child and the mom seems to allow this. We are the parents and the sooner we parent and teach kind and graceful behavior, the better off they will be in society.
This one is hard for me because I dress very boho chic. So naturally, she wants to dress like her mommy and I am okay with that. As long as it’s appropriate and not revealing, she can be my mini-me. But if you want her to look like Jackie O., you better get to Neiman Marcus and start dressing the part.
Either way, you still want to encourage her to be herself. According to my friend and cotillion expert, Tracee: “It’s okay to have individuality and dress the way you want, as long as it’s appropriate to what you are attending and always bring your manners to the table.”
Be Affirming With Your Words
A little lady in the making needs to be taught character. We try to praise with positive words. I can see it in her eyes how those positive words make her light up. She loves to make her mama proud!
Encourage a Good Attitude
Of course, every child can exhibit a bad attitude. It’s up to us as parents to nip that one right away. No one will ever notice how cute your kid is if she walks around with a bad attitude. Tell her it’s not okay and you won’t go on with the day until she loses the ‘tude.
Understanding Her Actions
Make sure she knows her actions have consequences.
I have seen girls act like tyrants before and 9 out of 10 times there are no consequences. I have seen girls set off home alarms, break other people’s toys, act completely inappropriately and the parents still do nothing. It’s alarming and not good to allow your kids to behave this way. Parents should leave with their child if they act this way. They should remove their child from the home they are visiting and teach them it’s not appropriate to behave this way.
Additional Tips and Lessons
Tracee Meyer, owner of Cape Fear Cotillion adds, “Having good manners, to me, is not just about which fork you use. It’s about making others feel comfortable around you. And treating everyone with kindness and respect.”
Tracee kindly and graciously gave me a few more pointers to add to my arsenal of good habits for my little lady and I think you’ll love them too!
Communicate with Style
– Set an example. It does matter what people think. First impressions are extremely hard to change.
– Graciously greet those around you, smile!
– Be on time and respectful of others’ time.
– Make sure everyone feels included.
Poise = Promise
– Ladies are polite.
– Hold doors for others, help those in need.
Be a Great Host or Guest
– No tattling, unless it’s emergency or if someone is in danger.
– Offer something to drink to your guests.
– Clean up before you leave. Do not leave the host to clean your mess.
– Always wait for everyone to be served, and until the host begins, to start eating.
– Place a napkin in your lap as soon as you are seated. Do not use your napkin as a towel.
– When there is one of something left, offer it to others before taking it for yourself.
– Silverware should never touch the tablecloth after being used. You may place them on the edge of your plate. When finished, diagonal across your plate.
– Sit until you are excused.
Cotillion is typically a season of etiquette classes for middle-school aged children that ends with a final dinner-dance where they get to show off what they’ve learned.
Appearance For Raising A Lady
Good hygiene and a clean appearance are important for young ladies. Nails should be clipped and clean and clothing should be neat and pressed. Of course, you can have your own individual style AND be dressed appropriately for the occasion. For example, if you’re going to an interview, party or meeting someone’s parents, put more effort into your dress. Flip flops and jeans won’t do.
Putting effort into your appearance tells the person you are meeting that they are important to you and shows respect. When first meeting, all we have to judge someone on is their appearance. Make sure you’re off to a good start right from the beginning.
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Until modern times, every class in society was distinguished from each other by its own strict and insurmountable codes of dress, behavior and etiquette.
Remembering to Always Be a Lady
If you are local to Wilmington, NC, there are plenty of upcoming classes at Porters Neck Country Club, Pine Valley Country Club and Wrighstville Beach Rec. for ages three and up. Visit the Cape Fear Cotillion website to register! Thank you Tracee for such useful tips!
It’s not easy to teach our little girls how to be little ladies when the world models something very different. But, as a mother, your influence is profound and relentless. Your girl looks up to you and longs to fill your shoes. So be the role model she so deserves. I would love to hear how you’re raising your little ladies!
New silverware is used for each course to prevent the flavor from your salad dressing transferring to your next dish. It’s crass to lick your fork or wipe it on a napkin, so you are given separate forks for the salad, entrée, and dessert.