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Christy Catherine Marshall

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May 17, 2010

Parents today face many challenges trying to raise children who are kind, respectful, and exhibit good character qualities. Sometimes it seems like an impossible task.

I’m in the thick of it, with my kids still in preschool, elementary school, and middle school. I have no idea how they’ll turn out, and I cringe at the thought of giving anyone advice on parenting.

Still I have hope, which is all we need, right? What I do is try to surround myself with amazing people who are experts in certain areas, and I seek them out for advice. So here, I want to point out to you a wonderful program that has been an immense blessing to our family.

You can read about the National League of Junior Cotillions on their website. In our hometown, this program reaches sixth through eighth grade students, and it’s one of those word-of-mouth things where you hear about it from somebody whose kids are in it. There’s a limited space, and it fills up extremely fast.

So I’m telling you about it now, because if you’re interested, you can look up your state on the website, find out if you have a local program, and contact the director. The directors are planning the 2010-11 season now, so if you want to get involved, now’s the time.

Here are a few topics the classes cover:

* First impressions
* Introductions
* Greeting and shaking hands
* Paying and receiving compliments
* Correspondence
* Telephone manners
* Family dining
* Table manners
* Polite conversation
* When to rise
* Doors and coats
* Sports etiquette

* Formal dining
* Party courtesies
* Hosting a party
* Receiving lines
* Eating unusual foods
* Instructional dinners

* Honesty
* Integrity
* Promise keeping
* Fidelity
* Caring
* Respect
* Citizenship
* Excellence
* Accountability
* Handling peer pressure

* Cell Phone Courtesies
* Phones and Digital Manners at Home
* Electronic Etiquette at Home, School, or Office
* Fax, Copier and Printer Protocol
* Digital Courtesies in Public Places
* Parent’s Guide to Electronic Etiquette

-Rules associated with the use of web surfing, emails and instant messaging
* Responsibility
* Ethicality
* Consideration

* Music appreciation
* Teamwork
* Timing
* Coordination
* Basic dance courtesies
* Current popular line dances
* Dance include the Waltz, Fox Trot, Cha Cha Cha, Shag/Swing,
Rhumba, and Tango.

Our local program hosts two balls: a winter ball and a spring ball. For all of us moms whose daughters have grown up reading books and watching movies about princesses, these balls are dreams come true. In the spring, the girls all wear white dresses, with elegant white gloves, and the ballroom scene creates a gorgeous picture of budding womanhood. The boys, I must add, look mighty handsome in their coats and ties.

In her novel, Betsy in Spite of Herself, Maud Hart Lovelace, describes the dance programs that were being created for the Leap Year Dance of 1908:

Tacy and Alice are making the programs. They’re terribly cute, with a bar from the ‘Merry Widow Waltz’ painted on the cover. But fifteen dances, Julia! Cab will ask me for one, of course, and Tony, and Dennie, and Pin, and Al, probably, and Squirrelly and Harry, but that’s only seven. I’ve fifteen to fill.

Over a hundred years later, I have the feeling that Maud Hart Lovelace would be pleased that girls are still filling out dance cards and waltzing through their coming-of-age years. As a parent, it was a happy experience for me, and I’m passing my joy along to you.

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