Table manners :-)

yabberJune 7, 2011

Just read about the food issue and felt like sharing something that happened over the weekend. Also to do with having dinner, but this is about table manners :-)

I think the following rules are managable:

-Eat with mouth closed

-Sit straight

-Have both arms on table (as opposed to hanging forward into plate with one arm under the table)

FDH basically agrees, BUT suffers from guilt parenting and therefore decides not to worry about table manners. His argument is: We have bigger fish to fry. Let's try and have a good time when kids are with us. My argument is: I agree there are bigger problems, but it does not mean that table manners don't matter. They are not hard to follow for a 13 and a 15yr old.

The kids know this is one of the few things we don't see eye to eye on, so they make the most of it. For months now I haven't said anything, after all they're his kids and if he doesn't mind..oh well.

But I hate it, because I go through the trouble of cooking those meals, and they know damn well that they're pushing my buttons when they hang in their plate, drop cutlery, flick food (supposedly accidentally..). I even clean the walls once a week it's that bad!! And there's always the sly look from the corner of their eye to see if they are getting to me yet? FDH choses to ignore it all away, and I have done the same for a long time, but enough is enough.

Their manners have been getting progressively worse, I reckon that's because they are trying to get a reaction, so they have to step it up because I haven't been biting. But I have had enough now, it's getting beyond ridiculous. It's a powertrip, so I guess I'm going to engage again.

So I wonder what you guys think of my new rule, to be applied next time the kids stay with us:

I go through the trouble of cooking a nice meal, they'll have to bother with table manners. They will get the choice before we eat. Don't want to eat like a civilised person? Fine by me, then they can have toast, and nothing else.

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Make sure the toast has PB on it :) nutritional value and all :)

I did "restaurant eating" ... for a bit they had to dress up for dinner ... once a week :) had GM over for dinner so they knew its not just me being a crank "other" people expect you to act a certain way at dinner. :)

    Bookmark   June 7, 2011 at 1:05AM
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You cook, it's your table, your rules. Letting the girls grow up to eat like slobs is doing them no favours in the long run, what if they get invited to posh places when they grow up? Then they'll be embarrassed. Point this out to your DH in a quiet moment when the girls aren't there. Point out it's a life skill they need to learn to grow up civilised.
Otherwise, if table manners keep being ignored, I wouldn't cook. As you say, let them eat toast.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2011 at 9:24AM
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"I even clean the walls once a week it's that bad!!" Oh hell no. First off, DH cleans the walls.

I don't think I'd be cooking for or eating with them at all. It would be one thing if they were 3 and 5 - but 13 and 15 is far beyond the age at which one is expected to have basic table manners. Too bad DH's guilt parenting would no doubt preclude sending them to the "kid's table" when they show themselves unable to sit at the "adult table".

    Bookmark   June 7, 2011 at 9:43AM
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"but 13 and 15 is far beyond the age at which one is expected to have basic table manners."


Cleaning the walls???? Gross. There is no excuse for that. DH should be cleaning the walls---or, better yet, the KIDS who made the mess in the first place.

I wouldn't eat with OR cook for them until this gets under control.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2011 at 10:00AM
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I agree 100%!!! The only problem we have is my ss doesn't chew with his mouth shut. I've been asking him to do so since he was 2ish. He's 10 now. He still doesn't do it. I get so tired of repeating it EVERY single night. I know he has problems with it because his mom eats the same way. When he was 5ish he told me once when I asked him to shut his mouth.... "I tell my mom that every night." I had to laugh at that one. His ex step dad used to tell him the same thing. But when mom doesn't do it it's hard to get them to realize how rediculous they look and sound.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2011 at 10:15AM
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One thing that worked really well for us when the boys were younger was for us to ask them to name a good manners rule. We'd go around the table and each person had to say a different rule. No one wanted to be the person who could not think of a rule, so the list got pretty long and at the end, kind of fun and silly.

What this did was raise awareness in a positive way. No parent was saying "Chew with your mouth closed!" to a specific child. Rather, it was the kids saying it to the family at large and reminding themselves in the process.

Of course, they weren't 13 and 15...

One other tactic that worked well (evil grin). When the boys would forget their napkins, I'd tell them that I didn't want them wiping their hands on their pants, so they had to remove their pants! (Never pushed it though...)

    Bookmark   June 7, 2011 at 1:30PM
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I second (third? fourth?) the motion that DH cleans the walls. (bangs gravel)

We are strict with table manners too. DD has issues chewing with mouth closed as well. REALLY ANNOYING. I just look at her and make a point of chewing and give her "the look".

I'd stop cooking. Unappreciative brats.

Anytime you want to come cook for me, I promise I won't flick food, hang over my plate, chew with my mouth open or wipe my hands on my pants.

I even do dishes ;)

    Bookmark   June 7, 2011 at 1:59PM
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I second that silver -- you wanna cook for me, I'll be very appreciative. I'll even do the dishes when we're done lol

I can't believe at their ages they flick food. We don't even have this problem with my kids 3 and 10.

Your Dh wants to 'enjoy' being with them and 'have fun' well how can you have fun and enjoy when you're watching everything you are about to have to start cleaning up??

    Bookmark   June 7, 2011 at 3:26PM
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I honestly have hard time imagining anyone flicking food in their own home? At 15 and 13? I think it is not about table manners but about something else, pissing dad and stepmom on purpose? I would try to find out what they are trying to accomplish? The issue is not bad manners per se but trying to get negative attention and push your buttons, i would want to know why.

I hate bad table manners though. Kids need to be taught good manners from early on, they won'y learn by themselves.

But it seems the issue here is not with table manners but their behavior in dad's house in general. I'd get to the bottom of it, it is a tough age, a lot of stuff might be going on in their heads.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2011 at 3:34PM
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there are some kids that just dont care. I can remember when I was younger my mom babysat for two boys that lived on our street. They were much older than us (they were in their early teens) These two boys were terrible! They chewed with their mouth open, threw food, grabbed stuff off other peoples plates. My mom had enough when they threw jelly and then ketchup across the dining room and it landed all over the walls. She made them scrub walls for the rest of the day. When their mom picked them up she shrugged it off with "oh, well they always act like that" My mom was like "not in my house and they will continue to scrub walls if they do that and if you dont like it they can not be here any more"

Definately put your foot down and Dh can just deal with it. I wouldnt allow a stranger to disrespect my home and table like that. Therefore I definately wouldnt allow my children (step or not) disrespect me and my home.

Bit of a tangent but: It constantly surprises me with the things people will put up with from step children simply because they are step children (and many times bio children). I mean many times these are things that we would never tolerate a grown adult doing and yet we sit back and allow children to get away with it because things are complicated.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2011 at 4:12PM
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I think if they behave in a ridiculous manner to piss everyone off and dad isn't getting to the bottom of it, then dad needs to be the one cooking and cleaning. He can either fix a problem or cook for the kids and clean after them. If kids truly have bad manners then parents are to blame, kids need to be taught from early age. But these teens are deliberately causing trouble not just have bad manners. I see a big difference.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2011 at 6:37PM
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You guys are a crackup, I feel better after having a giggle over your responses, and some good advice there too. It should be FDH who cleans the wall where SD13 sits, I'll show him next time how bad it is and he can then do the cleaning :-) I've just been wiping it when I do the table, and not given it too much thought (till now, that is..)

And on a more serious note: PO1 you are right, there is an underlying issue. To be honest I'm not 100% sure what that is, I can't name anything specific, but there is definitely something more behind all this.
It could be as simple as feeling some resentment. BM doesn't do family meals all that often (she hardly cooks) and they never sit at the table. The kids do think family is important, they really want to be a happy family with BM and her new boyfriend, desperately. So they might find it hard to accept a family thing like eating dinner together at our place, because they want it with BM so badly.

Same as going on holidays; we don't take them anymore because it is just not fun. The kids feel so guilty for enjoying themselves that they have to put on the sad face and mope. All we hear is: "What are we doing here?" "How long are we staying here?" "What is next?" and it is just not nice for anyone. Instead we take them on daytrips now because it seems to work better, they can actually enjoy themselves.

The other thought I have is that the skids know FDH and I don't have a lot of things we don't agree on, but table manners is one of those things. So I'm thinking that maybe it's as simpe as exploiting the one thing they know could cause an argument. I think it's fairly normal for stepkids to try and cause trouble between dad and SM (or mum and SD) even when they like the SM or SD. Just one of those things that might even be in the subconscious.

I get along with the skids pretty good, SD15 was spending a lot more time with us for awhile, because of problems at BM's and we were able to build her up a bit. Look after her, get her to school and activities etc. But then BM got tickets for Justin Bieber and SD15 ran back to BM :-(
And now there's a promise of a new house because BM's new BF is going to build. The blackmailing has started again. "If you live with us you can design your own room", "If you don't do as I say, no nice room for you" and on and on. So the kids know what is expected. Anyway, that doesn't really have anything to do with my dinners, but is more for background info :-)

    Bookmark   June 7, 2011 at 9:20PM
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You might be on to something there yabber and btw I'm glad to see you post.

We haven't always been a sit at the table family. We were when exDh and I were married and it was just dd. We had a huge dinning room and a table and we always ate together. When it was just dd and I we didn't have a table and then we lived with my parents and they had more of a 'bar' area that we would sit out. When I married DH we moved into a rental that doesnt have much of a dining area. We got a small kid table for the kids when DS was old enough to sit at one. So for the last several years we have not done 'family' dinners. The kids sit at their little table and Dh and I sit at tv trays. Now I have purchased a table with four chairs and we have started sitting together. It's hard for ds to get used to because we have never done this before. Dd says she is soooo happy that they do this at her dad's and it's a big deal for them to all sit together. She told me not long ago that it was 'weird' because we do two different things and now that we do the same 'family' dinner she really likes it. Maybe you are right. Your skids want this at BMs and don't... So they have some rebellious attitudes. Subconsciously...

    Bookmark   June 8, 2011 at 8:20PM
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Thanks Myfampg, it's good to be back :-)

It must be nice to sit at the table again! I'm sure everyone will get used to it soon.

FDH and I have the stable tables for our TV dinners when the kids are not with us, but I don't like it all that much. But anyway, that was our compromise: I wanted to have dinner at the table and FDH never used to. So now it's at the table with the kids, and in front of TV without the kids. It's all about compromise isn't it.

I'll let you know what happens when I give them the choice next week, it could go either way.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2011 at 12:28AM
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