The 13 Thou Shalt Nots of the Family Dinner Table

dinner table manners

You know you have little ones in the house when you find yourself inventing dinnertime rules like these . . .

1. Thou shalt not pull out a tooth at the table.

2. Thou shalt not moan, sigh, wail, slump to the floor, or say the words “gross,” “ew,” or “I hate” in reference to anything on your plate. This makes thy mother cry.

3. Thou shalt not lick the table.

(Ideally, thou shalt not lick thy fingers either, unless thou art eating fried chicken, but . . . well, there’s still a lot of finger-licking. Your mother tells herself this happens because she is a fantastic cook, not because her children are Neanderthals.)

4. Thou shalt not put thy shoes or feet on the table. Thou also shalt not sniff or lick thy shoes or feet while at the table. (Seriously.)

5. Thou shalt not interrupt Mommy while she is eating to involve her in a situation involving poop. (Alas, this one also gets broken at almost every meal. This may account for Mommy’s frequent loss of appetite mid-meal. She can’t even think about last Thanksgiving without gagging.)

6. Thou shalt not whistle at the table—at least not during dinner while five other people are all speaking at the same time. At breakfast and lunch, some cheerful whistling is welcome.

7. Thou shalt not poke, prod, or otherwise injure another diner with thy fork, spoon, or finger. (Thou shalt not be entrusted with knives until thou art at least sixteen years old.)

8. Thou shalt not lick mashed potatoes off thy spoon as though it were ice cream. This makes thy mother gag.

9. Thou shalt not blog, text, Tweet, Facebook, or answer the phone while at the table. (Thy mother probably cannot help plotting epic teen novels in the back of her brain, but that is permitted.)

10. Thou shalt not pass gas, or imitate the sound of gas-passing using thy armpit, at the table. (This rule also extends to silent-but-violent episodes.)

11. Thou shalt not inflict Neil Diamond or Johnny Cash impressions upon thy family during dinner if thou wanteth thy wife to remain at the table and thy children to not clap their greasy hands over their anguished ears.

12. Thou shalt not roll thine eyes at the large number of animal-themed Knock-Knock jokes that are clearly being made up on the spot. Thou shalt listen patiently and laugh heartily at the nonsensical punch lines.

13. Thou shalt not worry, stress, or be angsty at the table. Thou shalt relax and belly-laugh until thy hiccups overflow.

Okay, it’s your turn. What are your family’s dinner table Thou Shalt Nots? (Scroll down to comment!)

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Dinner table manners with kids

Author: Elizabeth Laing Thompson VIEW ALL AUTHORS POSTS

Elizabeth works from home as a writer, editor, diaper changer, baby snuggler, laundry slayer, not-so-gourmet chef, kid chauffeur, floor mopper, dog groomer, and tantrum tamer. She is always tired, but it's mostly the good kind.


  • Lara Tabua April 21, 2015 at 7:02 am

    1) Thou shalt not make up whimsical tales about your day which sound 99% believable but are enough to freak your mother out
    2)Thou shalt not then claim this is called using initiative and imagination

    • Elizabeth Laing Thompson April 21, 2015 at 1:37 pm


  • SharonM April 21, 2015 at 10:34 am

    Thou shalt respect the limits thy parents place on Minecraft conversation.

    • Elizabeth Laing Thompson April 21, 2015 at 1:36 pm

      Amen. And Lego conversation. And Pokemon card conversation.

  • Sasha April 21, 2015 at 1:00 pm

    Thou shalt not form a three man band with thy eating utensils whilst waiting for thy plate to be put in front of thee.


    Thou shalt not sing “Thank You Father” for the blessing at the funeral dirge tempo.

    • Elizabeth Laing Thompson April 21, 2015 at 1:38 pm

      Ah, the funeral dirge blessing…three hours later…

  • Gina Poirier April 21, 2015 at 1:43 pm

    Though shalt not ask for anything that is not at the table after thy mother has sat down. She shalt eat her food in one sitting before it gets cold.

    Also, though shalt not vomit whilst others are trying to swallow. That is the worst

    • Elizabeth Laing Thompson April 21, 2015 at 3:02 pm

      Vomit is ABSOLUTELY THE WORST. Even worse than poop.

  • Megan Adams April 21, 2015 at 2:36 pm

    Thou shalt not bring stuffed animals to the table. They do not need to “share” your food.

    • Elizabeth Laing Thompson April 21, 2015 at 3:01 pm

      Oh, my, yes. My daughter would LOVE to take over the entire table with settings for all 156 of her Beanie Boos.

  • Gina B April 21, 2015 at 4:08 pm

    Thou shalt not ask for seconds if thine Mother has not yet begun her first.

    Thou shalt not pick your nose, nor eat, particularly when you will not eat any green thing your Mother has make for you. Seriously. Stop it. Gag.

    • Elizabeth Laing Thompson April 21, 2015 at 5:00 pm

      That first one reminds me of that line from “A Christmas Story”: “My mother had not eaten a hot meal in ten years.”

      And OH YES. They won’t eat green vegetables, but WILL eat boogers? COME ON PEOPLE!

  • Geri April 21, 2015 at 7:06 pm

    Thou SHALT sit AT the table – “bottom on the chair and feet out front!”.

    • Elizabeth Laing Thompson April 21, 2015 at 7:08 pm

      Oh, yes, how I remember that one! I’ve been quoting it OFTEN with my kids. 😉

  • Bonnie Lyn Smith April 22, 2015 at 12:53 am

    Oh, how I love #1. My daughter loves to pull her teeth out everywhere, and she’s now 12. Things you didn’t think you’d ever have to say… LOL, but seriously, we like to laugh a lot at the table because it’s a great stress reliever for all of us.

  • Linda Benedict April 22, 2015 at 1:03 am

    Thou shall not backwash if mommy was nice enough to let the have a sip of her ice cold water.

  • KC April 22, 2015 at 6:51 am

    This is funny, we had so many rules at the table when I was growing up, posted on a poster board and hung on the dining room wall. I think that makes me so lax in my “rules” now, though my husband does enforce some lol.

  • Colette May 13, 2015 at 2:53 pm

    Licking fingers at the table is oh so a go at my house. Saliva doesn’t stain like tomato or chocolate sauce. By the time whip out a wipe or convince your LO to use a napkin those dirty fingers are gonna touch their favorite shirt, your new washed hair or your grandma’s linen table cloth…

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