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LucyGransnet (GNHQ) Thu 10-Jul-14 12:04:22

Sandi Toksvig's alternative etiquette guide

Writer, comedian and presenter, Sandi Toksvig, gives us her guide to being a well-mannered grandparent, and tells us why, though it's often tempting to apply the 'older is wiser' adage, we could stand to learn something from the younger generations themselves.

Sandi Toksvig

The alternative etiquette guide

Posted on: Thu 10-Jul-14 12:04:22


Lead photo

Sandi Toksvig

Gore Vidal said, "Never have children, only grandchildren". In theory it should be less work and more fun. Being a grandmother ought to be like being a mother but with more fairy dust. It's not always easy though. There is no question that the world has changed. Take child birth. These days, the father is expected to stand and help deliver but that was not the case with my grandparents. My grandfather always associated the birth of his four children with going to buy loose tea. It was customary for babies to be born at home and when the moment for delivery was near, the midwife always sent my grandfather out to buy a packet of tea. She did not want him hanging around when the baby was born.

The fact, however, that there has been change does not mean that I think manners have gone to hell in a hand cart. I believe the wonderful chance for closeness between grandchildren and grandparents has only improved as our lives have lengthened. Indeed, grandparents are essential today in…

The young ought to listen to the elders but that doesn't mean the next generation have nothing to teach us themselves.

Acting as a buffer
These days, the economic situation means even grown up children can take years to leave home so the usual frustrations of young people with their parents play out for longer. The grandparent can be an essential buffer in these relationships - partly by teaching both the younger generations the importance of…

The ‘Do as you would be done by’ leitmotif of manners
You often hears parents moan about their children not having enough respect. The grandparent can stand back from this and remind everyone that respect is something everyone, whatever their age, has to earn. They say wisdom comes with age. In my case I’m not at all sure age has come on its own but there is no question that experience is worth something. The young ought to listen to the elders but that doesn’t mean the next generation have nothing to teach us themselves. Parents caught up in the maelstrom of young people growing up sometimes forget that the relationship needs to be a two way street of listening and talking and of…

Allowing the young to make mistakes
It is too tempting to be the constant voice of caution or even doom as the young progress forward in their lives. It is, however, useful to recall the lessons we learnt from our own mistakes. Biting one's tongue and occasionally allowing for the folly of youth can be a kindness as long as you (and they) know you are there to pick up the pieces when necessary. Grandparents only have one obligation in these instances - never run out of cuddles or biscuits.

Sandi's new book, Peas and Queues: The minefield of Modern Manners, is available now from Amazon.

By Sandi Toksvig

Twitter: @sanditoksvig

Nelliemoser Thu 17-Jul-14 18:00:27

She hosts the News quiz BBC Radio Fridays 6:30 pm.

rubylady Fri 18-Jul-14 05:02:33

I've tweeted Sandi on Twitter, see if she answers the question about her being a granny. x