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I really need to ask family member to stop talking with their mouth full without causing offence

(20 Posts)
AngelaRipp0n Sun 06-Sep-15 11:46:10

FM is in their eighties, lives on their own so we see them every weekend usually for a meal. Tbh they can be hard work but mostly because of the generational difference, they are old fashioned, religious, daily mail reading we are none of these things but we love FM and try to be there for them. Our dc's are young teens so don't really want to spend much time with DH and I much less anyone older but they are also fond of FM so we've found that coming to us for a Sunday lunch or evening meal means we all get together and spend a bit of quality time together.

However everyone has noticed that FM fills their mouth with food before talking all through the meal and it really is horrible. My way of dealing with it it to not look at them while their talking because it's quite stomach churning, but it's not at all relaxing and it sort of affects the meal. I know that DH and the three DC's feel the same and its a real elephant in the room except one person can't see the elephant. We have tried saying sorry? When they speak to imply we didnt hear her, but you can't say that every time and FM hasn't picked up on it. If we are asked a question and have food in our mouths well do that hand gesture to say hold on let me finish chewing. We can't say 'spray that again' or anything jokey because FM would take offence. I'm absolutely sure they are unaware they're doing it and if you had a conversation about people doing it with them they'd join in and agree it's horrible. The problem is that meal times are so strained now that I'm sure FM must feel it and we don't want it to be this way, but what do we do?

claraschu Sun 06-Sep-15 11:49:28

Maybe I am wrong, but I have found that my relatives who are in their eighties and older are not able to change bad habits like this. In fact, even younger people really struggle to make changes in things like table manners and personal habits.

Seriouslyffs Sun 06-Sep-15 11:55:21

I'm a big fan of good manners; my dcs can eat anywhere and never be phased by posh expectations etc.
But in this case I'd do nothing. Perhaps jig around with seating arrangements so no one has too direct a view/ isn't in direct spraying distance, but certainly not say anything. Talk to the rest of the family- it'll be less of an elephant if you've had a 'euw lovely Fred, it's great seeing him but not so great seeing him eat, ah well he'd be mortified if we said anything' conversation.

missmargot Sun 06-Sep-15 11:56:44

Are you me? shock I've been contemplating writing a very similar post all week. For our FM it's a recent thing, not something he's always done and it's getting worse and worse. Be very interested to read the responses.

AngelaRipp0n Sun 06-Sep-15 12:05:01

We have all acknowledged it between ourselves, but I don't want it to become a bit of a bitching session. Our table is round so there's no hiding.

goddessofsmallthings Sun 06-Sep-15 12:23:36

It won't be easy to get an 80+ year old to change what is probably a disgusting habit of very long duration but I suggest you wait until they've uttered a few words before proclaiming 'Darling, your mouth is full and we can't hear you - we'll wait till you finish' and continuing the meal in silence until the aged one speaks again.

By way of variation, after the proclamation, those who don't have food in their mouths can continue chatting while you keep your eye on FM (what does that acronym stand for?) and stop the conversation as soon as they've swallowed their food with 'What were you saying, darling?' and letting them take centre stage again.

It may be necessary to repeat the process umpteen times before the message gets through but it should mean that you at least get to enjoy some meals without being put off your food.

I also suggest you feed your guest soup as a first course with ice cream or a milky rice dish for pudding which will reduce the amount of time they spend chomping solid food at your table. smile

AngelaRipp0n Sun 06-Sep-15 13:43:22

Goddess FM is family member. Soup or anything sloppy is even worse! It sounds like we are just going to have to live with it. I don't think we could even say what you suggested as FM can get defensive. For example when their partner was around a few years ago they used to come to our house to watch a particular tv program because we had Sky. We'd all watch together, but they'd talk, comment, scream etc all throughout and drive everyone absolutely nuts. Their Partner would sometimes say something, but when on one occasion DH got frustrated and said FM was spoiling it FM got very cross, said I can think of things you've done wrong and sulked. Would never hold their hand up and say oops, sorry you're right.

pocketsaviour Sun 06-Sep-15 13:55:29

Has this recently started or has it been going on for years? If new, could it be a symptom of a dental or other oral health problem? Or, sorry to say, it could be onset of dementia sad

Do you actually enjoy having her round? Or are you just acting from obligation? The description you've given of her habits, I can't see anything here I could love. Religious, reads the Fail, small-minded (I assume form the Fail reading), shit table manners, talks across other people, comes round to use your facilities, sulks, never apologises...?

goddessofsmallthings Sun 06-Sep-15 14:14:28

In that case you have my deepest sympathy as I can't abide poor table manners and find it similarly offputting if others persist in talking when their mouths are full.

AngelaRipp0n Mon 07-Sep-15 19:47:19

I didn't want to say before but it's my MIL, I didn't want to appear to be MIL bashing. As FIL is very ill and we are the only family we cant stop seeing her, she relies on us heavily and we do love her despite her being hard work. She'd move in given half a chance, so seeing her every weekend is only just enough to keep her happy, but it would be so much nicer if she would just stop talking when she's eats. Also as she's living on her own now she can enjoy roasts etc when she's with us, the sort of thing you just don't cook for one. We dread the visits now.

cowmop Mon 07-Sep-15 19:55:55

My FIL is exactly like this, with the added bonus of eating with his mouth open when he's not talking and at great speed. We avoid meal times as much as humanly possible, but when we do eat with them I just keep saying, "I'm sorry, I can't tell what you're saying." I'm afraid it makes no difference whatsoever though, and hasn't done in the nearly twenty years I've known him.

Not helpful I'm afraid, more an "I feel your pain!"

IgnoreMeEveryOtherReindeerDoes Mon 07-Sep-15 20:03:55

you need to borrow a small child, this is when my no filter mode child comes in handy

He would say it's rude to talk with food in your mouth or to show everybody what your chewing or 'that's gross'

Tbh I don't think you really can say anything on this occasion

FaceFullOfFilleronthe45 Mon 07-Sep-15 20:05:32

Blimey, another one here having exactly the same issue with my mother at the moment. Even my son commented privately to me on it the other day, and for him to notice you know it must be bad!

She never used to do this, it's a recent thing. She had a problem with her teeth for a few months and I thought that was the reason, but her implants are all in and sorted now, yet she's still slurping for all she's worth. confused I know she's be mortified if I said something, she'd take it very hard and probably get all angry and defensive with me.

She has started shouting in recent years too. You can be standing right next to her and she talks as if you are at the other end of a long corridor.

FaceFullOfFilleronthe45 Mon 07-Sep-15 20:06:08

Yes I agree, borrow the child! Then lend him to me.

Celerysoup3 Mon 07-Sep-15 20:12:18

The best thing is for DH to talk to mil and mention it in private away from the table. He could make it all about himself struggling seeing her talk with her mouth open. He could also say he loves seeing her

MiddleAgedandConfused Tue 08-Sep-15 08:52:11

My DM does this - she never used to, but now it seems like she will not talk at the table unless her mouth is crammed with food.
I have tried everything - including pointedly telling the DCs off every time they say anything at the table with food in their mouths. Nothing works. She just carries on.
I have tried saying - 'hang on mum - we can't make out what you are saying through all the food - why don't you tell us when you've finished that mouthful?'. All that happens is she swallows a bit and carries on with slightly less food in her mouth.
I invite her for meals a lot less now and when she is here, I just avoid making any eye contact with her at the table, same as the OP.
How petty and mean do I sound? I know I am being horrible. blush
The irony is of course that DM is the one who brought us up to have manners and made us super sensitive to these things. But now she just doesn't care.
So watching the thread with interest to see if anybody has a miracle solution...

FaceFullOfFilleronthe45 Tue 08-Sep-15 11:51:15

The irony is of course that DM is the one who brought us up to have manners and made us super sensitive to these things. But now she just doesn't care.

I know! Bonkers isn't it?

TopOfTheCliff Tue 08-Sep-15 12:02:11

I used to have this problem with my XH (among many others hence the X)

I started giving the DC table manner training at family meals and awarding or deducting points for elbows on the table, talking with their mouths full, not leaving the knife and fork together when they had finished etc. The youngest would be the points monitor and would include his DF in the scoring. It became clear that DFs manners were the worst of everybody, as well as soup dribbling and other nasty habits. Also he used to get up and wander off between courses without "asking to get down". The DC all have lovely manners now!

I wonder if your FM is dementing a little?

pocketsaviour Tue 08-Sep-15 12:12:21

My mum used to sit at the table, finish her meal, then pick up her plate or bowl and lick it.

Then she'd tell off my DS for putting his slice of bread down on his dinner plate between bites, instead of his side plate. hmm

DonkeyOaty Tue 08-Sep-15 14:01:06

I feel your pain. Wild generalisation here but we feel that my Mama is desperate to voice her thoughts before they flit away (mild dementia) so we suck it up.
She's like the interrupting cow:
Knock knock
Who's there?
The interrupting cow
The inter-


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