Throughout all the life stages your home and family life embody an essential set of relationships. These are the people you are with 24/7 through good times and bad. The way you treat each other has a direct effect on all other aspects of your life. The manners or tools we discuss in this section help you build and strengthen these essential relationships and help you work through the difficult and the special times that occur in everyone’s life. In Everyday Etiquette we presented manners as a function of meeting people throughout the day. Here, the emphasis is on the individual. As each person moves through different life stages there are unique needs associated with each one. In addition, throughout our lives we all experience special times that are unique and require special etiquette.
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Home can look very different from one family to the next. It may be laden with traditions, or laissez-faire. It may include many people, or only a few. Home can be one location with strong roots, or spread over several locations. Regardless of how home life functions, it is where families of all types grow together. This environment is strengthened when it is a place of respect, kindness, consideration, and honesty.
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Families today are often self-defined and are more diverse than ever. Travel, culture, different manners of education, adoption, remarriage - there are many facets to a familiy's make-up. Surface values may vary, but consideration and respect are found at the root of the strongest relations. A family, whatever that looks like, should be a foundation for moving through life.
Pregnancy, Birth, and Adoption
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The decision to grow your family is one of the most significant choices you will make. It is a decision that effects multiple people, as well. While there are many matters that should remain private, there are others that you will want to share. Along with pregnancy, birth and adoption comes an array of etiquette issues, starting with who to tell and when.
Children and Teens
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Social development is a process in which children learn how to interact with the world around them. They learn about how to do this from family, friends, media and just trying things out for themselves. Manners are one aspect of growing and learning, and they expand from communication basics to table manners to how to act when out and about in various situations.
College and Beyond
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Starting off at a new school and living on your own for the first time can be difficult to handle at first. With new social situations come new standards. Similarly, entering the job market for the first time can lead to confusing situations, with questions about interviews, proper appearance, and making good impressions. Keep in mind some basic etiquette, and the perils of independent life can be conquered.
Living with Others
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Sharing a space with another person may occur at some point in your life (whether at summer camp, college, military barracks, or an apartment or house). The experience is generally more positive when roommates are honest about their expectations of themseves and of others. Communication, although sometimes uncomfortable, will help you to work together to handle any problems which may arise.
People Who Work in Your Home
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When you employ someone to work within your home, there are many situations to consider. Honesty will be the foundation of good communication. Whether a person is mowing your lawn, landscaping, cleaning your house or fixing and building, as the employer you have a responsibility to be not only forthecoming in your dealings but also respectful of the employee as a worker and as an individual.
Separation and Divorce
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The frequency of divorce in modern society has not made the process any easier for those involved. The friends and family of those separating may feel the effects of the anxiety, sadness, or anger. Sometimes there are children and pets to consider. The circumstances of separating and breaking off a marriage, however, still call for basic consideration, respect, and honesty.
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The aging process often brings about significant health, emotional, cognitive, and social changes. A person may increasingly not seem to be "themself." This is difficult both for the person who is aging as well as for their family and friends. Family members and caregivers should look to the principles of respect and consideration when dealing with the challenges which may accompany this process.
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Any etiquette surrounding a minor illness is fairly straightforward. We know to be careful not spread anything contagious, and whenever we're in the company of someone who's under the weather, we offer sympathy: "Sorry to hear you've been sick with the flu. I hope you're feeling better."
A more serious illness calls for a get-well card, flowers, or perhaps a visit. And dealing with a debilitating or terminal illness makes more demands on loved ones and friends, all of whom want to make such difficult days as comfortable for the patient as possible.
Loss, Grieving, and Condolences
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Losing a close friend or relative is a difficult experience. It is often unclear what can or should be done in response. Those who are grieving may "freeze" and require the support and assisstance of friends. Funerals and other events which follow the death of a loved one serve to memorialize them and can be a celebration of their life. While such events can help to console us, respecting the wishes of the deceased should also remain a primary concern.