You remember when you were growing up, your parents, uncles, aunts, neighbors and the rest of the village it took to raise you schooled you well on how to behave.  In our community, one of the most complimentary things that could be said about you was “that child was raised right.”  And what you never wanted to hear?  The considered judgment that you had “no home training.” 

Most of us had home training, but we all slip occasionally, so it never hurts to go back to that well from time to time.  Life changes very quickly—sometimes it feels as if we’re moving at warp speed.  And a little home training helps to hold everything together. 

So consider this blog a town hall to discuss behavior—good and otherwise—and a place to exchange information and solve some of life’s more vexing dilemmas.  We can certainly talk about what to do when an guest brings an unexpected extra to dinner (you add another place setting and stretch things, just as your grandmother would have done, right?) and whether response envelopes for weddings and parties should be stamped and self-addressed (yes).  But we can also talk about how you  respond when your eight year- old’s playmate wants to turn the channel to something that you don’t allow your own children to watch.  (“Sorry—we don’t watch Spike TV.  There’s the Discovery Channel or several DVDs—take your choice.”) 

I don’t profess to perfection or having all the answers, but together we can explore what it means to be a civilized citizen of the 21st Century.  Feel free to send questions, queries, corrections (yes, I’m sure there will be some!) to  So holla back, folks;  I’m looking forward to beginning our conversation. 

Your Mother Was Right when she told you to come to arrive at a host’s home bearing gifts.  So it was no surprise to many of us when Michelle Obama arrived at the White House for the traditional pre-Inaugural coffee with a present under her arm for Laura Bush.  Mrs. O had done her research, and knew the about-to-be-former First Lady was preparing to write a memoir of her time in the White House.  The incoming First Lady—who was certainly raised right by her mother, Marian Robinson--presented Mrs. Bush with a leather journal and engraved pen—perfect for jotting down her thoughts for posterity.

Karen Grigsby Bates is a Los Angeles-based correspondent for NPR News and co-author, with Karen Elyse Hudson, of The New Basic Black: Home Training For Modern Times (Doubleday).