Rules for Children at Table

I found a genealogical gem a few years which I just recently re-uncovered.  It’s aptly titled “Rules for Children at Table” and was written by my great-grandfather (I might need to add a great or two in there), Ezra Martin.

Once again I’m struck with an “if only”.  IF ONLY I had paid attention to this when I first found it.  Had I taught my children these rules our dinners would be:

Silent. There would be no whining, complaining or bickering, and wouldn’t that be wondrous? I just might miss the noise though.  I’m not sure. Maybe I’ll give this a try and let you know.

I like this list.  I really do.  I just feel it’s lacking. I mean, where is the part about clearing the table and washing the dishes without a gripe?

Rules for Children at Table

Gently I must take my seat, and give thanks to God before I eat.

I must not scold or whine or pout, nor move my chair or plate about.

I must not speak a noisy word: for children may be seen not heard.

I must not talk about my food nor fret if I don’t think it good.

I must not say, “that bread is old”, the “milk is hot”, nor the “water too cold”.

Nor while I am eating speak aloud, nor with the food my mouth to crowd.

The table cloth I must not spoil, nor with my food my fingers soil.

When told to rise I must not push my chair away with a noisy rush.

Nor bang the door, and what is more must give my thanks to God above for all his kind and wondrous love.


This is how I was taught, Ezra F. Martin

P.S.  My most embarrassing moment is up for a Parent’s Pick Award at Nickelodeon’s Parent’s Connect. I’m assuming I can use all the votes I can get.  So, if you have a moment, hop on over.  My moment of glory is first, under jagelees.

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  1. 2


    Love it!! You need to framw it really cute and hang it in your kitdhen. That is a treasure. We have a few of those rules here at our house…..and yet it seems as if they still don’t happen.

  2. 5


    Wow, what a cool find.

    I’d make a copy, turn it into one of those trendy social contracts teachers like to use now, and have ’em sign it. And tell them if they break the rules, the ghost of their great grandfather will come to the dinner table.

    is that bad?

  3. 8


    Dinner manners aside, I’m just in awesome that you have something in his handwriting. That’s really quite a treasure.

    Now for those dinner rules… if only our house run so well. The big guy is always touching the baby and getting out of his seat. And for some reason, he usually runs from the table yelling “I’ve gotta poo poo!” most nights of the week. Ummmkay!

  4. 9


    We have some work to do at our table! 🙂

    Come check out my hair disaster. It will give you a good laugh (just don’t laugh too hard at me)

  5. 12


    There is definitely a need for some rules of the table in this modern world however the not talking one I think is what I would leave out as again, today, meal times are one of those precious times when you are all together as a family and so being able to chat about the day is a great gift.

  6. 13


    SO cool to find that!! I know what you mean about missing the noise..since the brothers I raised are now grown and moved out to Hollywood, I do miss the noise(only sometimes haha)..They are drummers and musicians(writing, etc.-guitar) so some of that noise I do not miss lol

    You should frame your precious keepsake maybe in a shadowbox with a pic of your great(great) grandfather:)

  7. 38

    Melissa says

    I love it!!! I need to use that in my house! My grandma never allowed elbows on the table. If my mom or her siblings did grandma would lift the arm and let it bang back down on the table… Oh how times have changed…

  8. 39


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