To expect reasonable table manners from DSD 7

(79 Posts)
LabRat72 Sun 09-Feb-14 01:48:31

My stepdaughter comes to us every other weekend. She's generally a very good girl, bit loud but that's to be expected. AIBU to ask and expect that she has decent table manners? Every mealtime I have to remind her to use her knife & fork (she'd eat with her fingers if I let her, obv things that are meant to be eaten with fingers are allowed!), I also ask her to not start eating till everyone is sat down & not to eat with her mouth open or talk (too much) with her mouth full. I also have to ask her to not just jump down from the table as soon as she's finished & to stay seated till dinner has 'gone down' a bit. DH says I'm expecting too much. He's happy for her to eat mainly with her fingers & to wander about during & straight after the meal. Am I expecting too much?

vulgarwretch Sun 09-Feb-14 01:57:53

My 7 year old has shocking table manners, despite me reminding him every meal that he is not allowed to eat with his fingers, eat with just his mouth, jump up and down in his chair, go and check on his minecraft, etc. So I think it's ambitious to expect good table manners consistently. Not unreasonable to ask for them though.

I would let her leave the table as soon as she's finished eating though, as long as she asks politely. It wouldn't occur to me to sit at the table waiting for my food to go down.

AgentZigzag Sun 09-Feb-14 02:12:39

Constantly reminding them is just part and parcel of teaching them manners, and once they learn one bit there's always another bit of it to go on about.

What you've said is reasonable to me, definitely not too much for a 7 year old, it doesn't have to be Victorian control, but expectations are OK.

Are your DHs table manners a bit more relaxed than yours? If they are I wouldn't think of him too harshly, perhaps you could come to a compromise, you drop a couple of rules and he accepts you're the boss your DSD needs telling?

Bogeyface Sun 09-Feb-14 02:14:25

In general no, a 7 year old should automatically use a knife and fork, but if she is allowed to eat as she likes at her mums then it will take time for that to sink in when she is with you. However......

I also ask her to not start eating till everyone is sat down
Firstly, why isnt everyone sat down in readiness? I shout through "TABLE!!!!!" as I am dishing up and if you are not there, then your food gets cold! Why should she have to wait for other people when she is hungry?

I also have to ask her to not just jump down from the table as soon as she's finished & to stay seated till dinner has 'gone down' a bit
How long are we talking here? We have a large family, some are gobblers, some are savourers so as long as they ask "May I be excused" then thats fine. I dont expect them to eat their meal and then wait 15 minutes while I finish mine, because apart from anything else, they get bored and start acting up.

She is 7 not 27, it isnt a major event in her day, it is just a necessary food pit stop for her that needs to be got out of the way asap so she can get back to more interesting things.

Bogeyface Sun 09-Feb-14 02:17:15

Also, I have found that my younger ones struggle with cutting up certain foods so would use their fingers if I didnt cut it up for them. I read a good article once that said that you should sit at a table on a low stool (so much lower than is comfortable to eat a meal) and use a blunt childs knife and fork, then you will see what it is like for them. I didnt do it, but it did make me think. I now have a table surrounded by TrippTrapps at varying heights, give them proper cutlery and offer to cut something up if they are struggling.

LabRat72 Sun 09-Feb-14 02:20:32

With the 'waiting' bit, there's only the 3 of us so it's literally a few seconds between her plate being put in front of her & whoever is serving up to go back & get mine & DH's plate. DH always serves her first, I reckon she should maybe be served last, then she couldn't plough in as soon as the plate hits the table. Perhaps I'm mean smile and with the waiting afterwards thing, it's just 5 mins or so, and if she asked to get up that'd be fine, but she just pushes her plate away & leaps up, usually straight to the fridge to search for dessert. All
I ask is that she stays put for 5 mins or so while we all finish up & then she can go. I hope I'm not being draconian.

AgentZigzag Sun 09-Feb-14 02:20:46

We always had to sit until everyone had finished but I wouldn't make the DD's, fucking hell, I'm not waiting until DH's finished until I start clearing up grin

It'd mean I'd have to talk to him or something hmm

ComposHat Sun 09-Feb-14 02:24:36

Waiting at the table to let it go down is a bit wanky, but on balance she shouldn't be eating eith fingers talking/ eating etc.

LabRat72 Sun 09-Feb-14 02:25:09

Bogey smile Good point, we do cut her food up unless it's softish stuff, she very rarely has to cut anything up & she's on a booster cushion, plus she's pretty tall so she can reach ok.
Maybe I just need to chill out a bit but my parents really drilled table manners into me & I do think it's important.
She is allowed to eat with her fingers at mums (they both live with mums parents) & they're clearly a lot less anal concerned about table manners than I am. But I think at 7 she's old enough to realise that what's allowed at one house may not necessarily be allowed at another. I had exactly the same thing as a kid. One set of grandparents allowed me to get away with murder, the others were a lot stricter. You adapt.

Bogeyface Sun 09-Feb-14 03:04:07

Re: Her being served first, I think thats fine and sensible. Let her get stuck in but make sure that "May I be excused" is drilled in so that she can leave when has finished, but must excuse herself.

I am guessing you dont have children so are putting adult expectations onto her. Thats normal, we all do that before we have gone through the living hell fun that is the toddler years! Any meal that doesnt get chucked on the floor is a win after that grin

She is a child who spends most meal times with her mother. Whether you agree or not, she will automatically behave in the way that has been taught to her as acceptable. I think you need to pick your battles, and talk to your DH so you are both on the same page.

ilovesooty Sun 09-Feb-14 03:13:52

I don't think it's unreasonable to encourage her to use a knife and fork. I had lunch in a local cafe today and a girl of about 11 on the next table was eating chips and gravy with her fingers. I thought that was a bit off to be honest.

I think it's reasonable of her to get down if she asks to be excused.

AgentZigzag Sun 09-Feb-14 03:16:05

'I thought that was a bit off to be honest.'

A milder and more diplomatic version of what I would have thought.

LabRat72 Sun 09-Feb-14 03:26:42

Me too Zig & Sooty! smile
I will ask DH if he can try to instill asking to get down into her. I think it's the not asking rather than the actual getting down that is grating on me. Ah, is it that obvious that I don't have any children on my own? smile I know I sometimes expect too much of her, I just want her to have manners & not be the child that people look and & think how badly behaved she is.

AgentZigzag Sun 09-Feb-14 03:35:43

Yeah, just do one at a time, if you don't make anything of it she'll hardly notice.

I don't think it needs to be 5* dining standards, but there's nothing worse than getting to be an adult and realising nobody's told you what are considered really bad manners.

It's not necessarily the small rules but things like not shoveling it down like a pig at trough so half of it ends up on the floor SIL's older DC who should have known better, not talking about your getting pus out of your dogs arse while you're at a family meal SIL, showing appreciation for the person who's cooked it are things I value, and hoik at the lack of, most.

innisglas Sun 09-Feb-14 05:27:36

Maybe you should try one thing at a time. When I was her age, my borhter took it into his head to teach my table manners, and it meant that I was constantly being told off, which does not make eating a pleasant experience.

LabRat72 Sun 09-Feb-14 05:44:12

I will continue to ask / tell her to use her knife & fork as that's the main thing she can't be arsed to do forgets. I will have a word with DH & get him to talk to her about asking to leave the table after eating. I don't want to be constantly telling her off. Thanks for your input everyone.

cricketballs Sun 09-Feb-14 07:05:42

Op - I'm with you regarding table manners also drummed into me from a young age my DC have always been expected to use them, including not leaving the table until they are excused; as it's a rule that I have never wavered from they follow it without question/moaning.

We use this time to sit and talk about our day etc and I find that it's the most relaxing time in the day.

Op, just keep reminding, it will soon register with DSD the expectations at your home

FunkyBoldRibena Sun 09-Feb-14 07:24:55

My step daughter was exactly the same. Didn't actually know how to hold a knife. Bizarre.

Don't beat yourself up, or you will become the foil for the parents who can't parent.

Crowler Sun 09-Feb-14 07:30:56

I would expect a 7-year old to have good table manners & perhaps more importantly, wait until everyone is done to get up from the table. I don't see how getting up from a table where everyone is not finished could ever be considered OK.

When you're dining at home it's not as though you're sitting for hours or even half hours!

Bonsoir Sun 09-Feb-14 07:34:36

I think she should definitely eat with a knife and fork, keep her mouth shut and eat neatly. But at 7 she shouldn't have to wait until everyone else has finished to get down.

LabRat72 Sun 09-Feb-14 07:42:49

There's only 3 of us so she's not waiting for ages. DH inhales his dinner so it's usually me left till last smile
I don't really mind if she wants to get down before I'm finished, it's when she just wanders off that annoys me. I think she should ask.
Am I a Wicked Stepmother?

thegreylady Sun 09-Feb-14 07:43:45

My grandsons are 7 and 4 and are expecyed to say "Please may I get down?" before they leave the table. If they get down before everyone has eaten it is assumed that they don't want anything else to eat. If there is pudding they are expected to wait till everyone is ready. Eating with fingers hasn't been allowed for ages. Even the 4 year old uses a spoon and fork and the older one manages a knife too. There is no fuss it just is the way it has always been. I think you need to set expectations and enforce them pleasantly.
The only time ours can get down early is if there are a lot of adults with wine and chatting between courses. In that case they are allowed to take their dessert and have it at a little table in their playroom. That's not as fancy as it sounds it's just the front room given over to child centred stuff including a little tv and dvd player.

I'd say it's your dh's dd and he should make the decisions about how she is parented. Why are you nagging her when he is there too?
I would say you need to have this out with your dh, agree on what is going to be acceptable in your home and he should deal with his dd at meal times.

Treaclepot Sun 09-Feb-14 07:50:05

I was a bit like this with my now big stepson, was always nagging him to eat better. Tbh I wish I hadnt bothered, I was in his eyes acting the big stepson.

I now ahve three Dc and realise that every meal time is a nagging event and While I bother with my Dc I shouldnt have with my DSS asit just create unnessary tension.

Crowler Sun 09-Feb-14 07:50:40

Am I the only one whose normal weekday family dinners take like 12 minutes?

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