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"Table manners" issue....

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
My husband has decided to adopt the habit of making ds (2.5 years) ask to be excused when he wants to leave the table. This really irks me! I think he feels compelled to do so because he and ds have dinner with some friends and their children once a week and the friends expect this of their children (one of whom is also 2.5). Husband is rather insecure and is always seeking external approval - I think this is just another example.

That said, another part of me thinks that it's important to be respectful of every one at the table - the thing is that ds still sits in a highchair (without the tray) and isn't able to scoot his chair back from the table by himself so he's basically held captive until he finally says, "May I be excused?" and his dad helps him get down. When it's just the two of us, I don't do this. I let him down when he says he would like to get down or we eat on the floor so he can come and go as he pleases. I don't like the idea of him having to ask permission to move, for chrissakes

I don't know how to strike a balance here. Dh and I are separating in the next few months and so I feel as though we're walking on eggshells and expressing any little gripe might just upset the delicate balance we've acheived in order to live together until we can physically separate. What would you do? Let it go? Is it really that important? I won't carry on this practice when ds and I have moved elsewhere, but I also don't want to set ds up for issues when he visits his dad.

Why do I feel like this isn't making any sense and I'm just rambling? : :LOL

Anyway, thanks if you've made it this far....
post #2 of 17
Since you and DH are separating soon, I would prob'ly let it go. Then when you are on your own you can do it your way. Your son will learn that you and Dad do things differently, so I don't think there's any point in forcing the issue now.
post #3 of 17
Thread Starter 
Thanks, Piglet. I knew this, but for some reason I just needed to 'hear' someone else say it. It's been a tough day (feel like I've spent every waking minute cleaning up after *someone* and stressed out for other reasons), so I'm in 'wallow' mode. Time to get out of that!
post #4 of 17
we always had to ask if we could be excused. I don't remember at what age we started asking, it was enforced. Mostly it was to make sure we ate an adequate amount of what we took at the meal so that we didn't waste a whole bunch of food.

we don't now, (being adults and all) but we did when we were kids. I don't see anything wrong with it. However, we did know what we were asking and why, so I think that makes a difference.
post #5 of 17
It is a control issue. it is sad that some adults feel the need to control a small child in any way possible. You sound like a wonderful mother. I hope you the best in your situation. Just love your child and plan on being there for him when he has struggles away from you.
When my dd comes back from visiting others and cries about how they made her eat all her food or whatever, i just hold her and let her get her feelings out so that she isn't holding onto all that negative behaviour. Her dad is also a control freak. She struggles with her visits. On one hand she loves him to pieces and really wants to see him, but on the other she really doesn't like the way he tries to control everything she does.
When we are visiting ppl and they try to make my dd do something like excusing herself from the table, I just explain that I do not parent that way and since we are guests in their house they should treat ALL of us as guests. It is a pet peeve of mine when others try to push their control issues onto my children.
post #6 of 17

nak

dragonfly -

mamaintheboonies - excellent post! inspiring. you sound like a great mama!
post #7 of 17
Piglet & Mamaintheboonies:

Since when has teaching manners become a control issue? Do you also consider requiring a child to say please, thank you or your welcome also control and not merely being polite and mannerly? At what age do you start teaching children to be polite and mannerly. Children do not automatically become polite at a certain age; they must be taught it and asking to be excused from the table could be considered politeness to those around them. Asking to be excused is simply asking to leave. You require it in other situations why is this one considered a control issue.

This may not be the thread to address this but I am curious as to what constitutes manners and what consititutes control.

Manners by definition is "the socially correct way of acting, etiquette" "the prevailing systems or modes of social conduct of a specific society."

Yes, I agree that when going to someone's house they should treat all ages as guest but when I go to someones house I as an adult follow their rules and will expect the same of my children. At my house I allow my baby to play with the phone, dvd player and cds. I would never allow my child to do the same at someone elses house. Their house their rules or as above, "the prevailing system or mode of social conduct of a specific society." In this case, my friend's house.
post #8 of 17
I'm not piglet or mamaintheboonies but personal control is a major issue with me, so I offer this opinion.

I think the difference in saying thank you or your welcome vs. asking to leave a table is that one is expressing appreciation or gratefulness (positive virtues) while the other is expressing subservience, which some consider a negative virtue. I personally find non-consenting subservience offensive. And I can't imagine myself, as an adult, asking my friends if I could leave their table. I can't imagine requiring my son to ask me to leave the table. He's his own person and he knows when he's done. He doesn't just jump up from the table. He says, I'm done and gets up to wash his hands. That seems polite enough to me.
post #9 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by irishprincess71
Since when has teaching manners become a control issue? Do you also consider requiring a child to say please, thank you or your welcome also control and not merely being polite and mannerly?
Well, I'm not either of the above but, personally, yes I do. Of course, I also believe that if you model these behaviors they will most likely sink in. Both my husband and myself are always openly polite to one another, to everyone around us (with the occasional slip, of course, when we're zoned out or really irritated - quite human) and also to our own son (something many parents overlook, IMO) and, as a result, ds has been saying please, thank you, and you're welcome (also excuse me and 'bless you' for sneezes) for better than a year (he is now 2.5). We have never expected it of him or forced him to say those things, he has just picked it up because we treat it as par for the course, appropriate, routine behavior. Of course, I don't foster the illusion that he will necessarily always be this polite. I certainly hope we will, but if not then we will address his lack of 'manners' when the time comes that he is consistently failing in them. It will be addressed in a respectful manner, however, because I want the choice to behave respectfully toward others to come from within him.

Quote:
Children do not automatically become polite at a certain age; they must be taught it and asking to be excused from the table could be considered politeness to those around them.
I disagree. Children learn to do what is modeled for them. The problem lies in the fact that many parents practice the "Do as I say, not as I do" method of parenting. How many parents have you heard asking if they can be excused from the table? Not many, I'll wager. That's why it's control - it's authoritarian. The message it conveys is "I am in charge of whether or not you may leave the table - you must ask me for permission before you move." If it was about *manners*, then parents should ask, too, because we should all be polite to one another, regardless of age. Likewise, I rarely hear parents say please, thank you, excuse me, etc. to their children and often not even to others around them. But those same parents are notably horrified when their children do not grace others with those practices.

Quote:
Manners by definition is "the socially correct way of acting, etiquette" "the prevailing systems or modes of social conduct of a specific society."
I have a problem with there being a separate set of manners for children. If we don't practice it ourselves, we should not expect it of our children (and sometimes not even then - they are children, after all - not mini-adults). IMO, that is hypocritical and smacks of control.

To everyone: Thank you for your thoughts - you all are awesome! And MamaintheBoonies, I agree with whoever it was who wrote that you are a rockin' mama - that must be so heartwrenching for you. I only hope I can handle any similar situations with such compassion and grace
post #10 of 17
I'm with irishprincess71 on this one - I don't think it's as much a control issue as it is about teaching manners. I think of "may I be excused" as a polite way to leave the table, not so much as a way of asking permission to move. After all, if I was a guest at someone's dinner table and needed to leave the table for something, I would say, "Please excuse me, I'll be back in a minute," or something along those lines; I wouldn't just get up and walk away. Does that make sense?

I figure kids need to learn how to behave in a polite way, and it's never too early to start teaching them. I don't believe in FORCING manners on a kid, though, so I wouldn't keep the kid captive at the table until he said those words, just as I would not withhold a toy or cookie or whatever until the kid said "please."

It sounds as though you and your dh just have different viewpoints on this. You do say that you think he is doing it for appearances, and perhaps that is true - I don't know him, so I can't say! But I'd let this one go if I were you, too.
post #11 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by LunaMom
I think of "may I be excused" as a polite way to leave the table, not so much as a way of asking permission to move. After all, if I was a guest at someone's dinner table and needed to leave the table for something, I would say, "Please excuse me, I'll be back in a minute," or something along those lines; I wouldn't just get up and walk away. Does that make sense?
Definitely makes sense - but in the first scenario, the child is being expected to ask permission to leave. In the second scenario, you as the adult are politely stating your intent to leave, not expecting approval. There's the difference between control and manners, IMO. My guess is that the majority of adults would be pretty darned irked if their friends or husbands expected them to ask and wait for permission before leaving the table.

Quote:
just as I would not withhold a toy or cookie or whatever until the kid said "please."
My husband does this as well - drives me absolutely friggin' nuts. It's another one I let go, though, and just do differently.

Quote:
You do say that you think he is doing it for appearances, and perhaps that is true
I do think that the "may I be excused?" is mostly for appearances sake - the other, however, is definitely about control. It's no surprise, really, considering the father he had - and he's really such a great, loving father in other respects (certainly has superceded the 'fathering' his own dad gave him), so I think I can definitely let this go and just allow ds to figure out in time that his parents are different human beings with different perspectives on life and human interactions. A healthy lesson!

Thanks - this is all helping so much (And here I thought my issue was just about table manners! :LOL)
post #12 of 17

I

I'm sort of on the fence here. While DH and I don't actively ask whether we may be excused from the table, that is mostly because we don't leave the table in the middle of a meal. If DH has to go to the bathroom during a meal, he would probably just state the fact and go without asking permission. If he wanted to go watch TV, he would absolutely ask me if it was okay with me. Similarly, if DD had to go to the bathroom during a meal, I wouldn't expect her to "ask"me if it's okay. However, I would expect her to ask me if it's okay if she's finished and wants to leave the table while others are eating - that to me is a matter of manners. So I would want her to ask to be excused in some circumstances and not necessarily others.

And I absolutely do not see it as subservience - just as I don't see it as subservience when DD asks me for a cookie and I won't see it as subservience when she asks me for the car keys one day. I am hardly a control freak but I don't treat DD as if she's an adult who can make her own decisions, I make many of them for her. That will lessen as she gets older but that's the way it is for now (she's 3).

But hey - if it bugs you because it seems "over the top", you're certainly not wrong. I definitely pick my battles and I don't require my DD to ask to be excused yet either - I think of that as being something for a slightly older child.
post #13 of 17
Thread Starter 

Re: I

Quote:
Originally posted by LoveBeads
And I absolutely do not see it as subservience - just as I don't see it as subservience when DD asks me for a cookie and I won't see it as subservience when she asks me for the car keys one day.
I see a big difference in these situations. The cookies and car keys involve health and safety, the permission to leave the table, not at all. That said, I can see how all would seem important issues to someone else. Different strokes for different folks

post #14 of 17
Dragonfly -

I completely agree that the idea of asking permission to be excused is definitely an individual choice. Which is why I didn't originally respond to your post. Piglet said it best that it is a little issue that will just make for different homes environments and not worth a battle for the here and now.

I also agree that you model what you want your kids to do and the "do as I say and not as I do" lifestyle is hypocritical. I must say that I never thought it possible to only demostrate politeness and expect it to be followed. What I mean is that DH and I are polite to each other and say please, thank you, etc. but I always assumed that somewhere along the line I would have to help my kids along with the concept. "What do you say when asking for a cookie?"

DH and I don't ask to be excused however, we tend to finish eating at the same time. If DH ever got up and walked away with half his food on his plate and never returned back to the dinner table without saying anything I would be seriously tick off. And he would only do it if he were ticked off. Generally, some sort of indication that you are done is basic politeness. But like you in my house it will not be required of a 2.5 year old to say the words, "may I be excused" a simple "I'm done" would be sufficient.

My main concern was with the idea that as a parent you teach your child that they do not have to obey the rules of other people's houses and going to far as to tell other people that you don't intend to follow or have your child follow their rules. That I believe is the ultimate in a control issue. I would be livid if a friend came to my house and told their child that because they were allowed to jump on furniture at their house they could do it at mine. My house my rules, your house your rules. And if you don't like the rules in someone else's home don't go there or send your child there.

Above all else I believe in teaching my child to respect other people and their rules. It is not control it is just the rules of life, manners and etiquette. Would be like telling your child's kindergarten teacher that in your house your DC doesn't have to ask permission to use the bathroom so you don't want the teacher requiring it of them. Do you consider it a control issue that the teacher does require it of them? No! So why is it a control issue in a private home?
post #15 of 17
ooooooh, I hate this rule too I mean, it works when everyone is at the table...but when half the people are gone or the kids were eating at the table without an adult (like breakfast when all of us adults are running around trying to pack lunches and do the crazy morning stuff). FIL is the WORST at this! pisses me off to no end! I've told him *Hey, it's a weekday morning and they have to get going, it's not tea time with the Queen mum herself!*

but yes, in large groups/family it works but casual and small attendance, it's annoying.

(BTW~FIL lives with us. he's great...annoying at times but he does the dishes and I can live with that )
post #16 of 17
Dragonfly - Beautiful posts. They express my thoughts on this subject perfectly.

I just wanted to reiterate that there is a huge difference between saying "excuse me" and having to ask to be excused. Yes, if my dh got up in the middle of dinner without saying anything I would be irritated too. But he would never ask to be excused - he would say he was done or something to that effect. And I think that is perfectly reasonable to expect of children.

And while I do think that it is polite to follow certain types of "rules" in other people's homes (removing shoes, not jumping on the couch, not playing with their plants, etc.), I don't want ds to feel like he is expected to automatically do whatever someone else tells him to do just because he is in their house. I don't think that kids should have to blindly obey adults, regardless of where they are. And to me having to ask to leave the table is more about obedience than about politeness.

And the reason I think it's okay to have to ask to go to the bathroom at school but not at home is because the teacher has to keep tabs on the kids. They can't just be getting up and wandering away unannounced.
post #17 of 17
Whew! This discussion got pretty interesting, lol.

irishprincess: I think dragonfly has answered so well that I don't need to respond to your original questions. I could not have said it better than dragonfly did!

Quote:
I must say that I never thought it possible to only demostrate politeness and expect it to be followed. What I mean is that DH and I are polite to each other and say please, thank you, etc. but I always assumed that somewhere along the line I would have to help my kids along with the concept. "What do you say when asking for a cookie?"
I thought this was such an obvious concept - once someone pointed it out to me, . Seriously, though...I don't like the idea of forcing kids to say please and thankyou, but I also think manners are important. As I'm now doing research into gentle discipline, dragonfly's point about modeling manners and good behaviour just seemed so "duh! why didn't I think of that?", kwim? Kids really do pick up on stuff (usually the stuff we don't want them to, which means I have to stop belching out loud in front of my DD now, he he he!).

As for the issue of kids following rules in a visiting home, I think it really depends. I don't believe in forcing kids to "finish their plates" so if we were at someone's house and they tried to pull that on my kid I would say something b/c I think it's cruel to force a kid to eat. OTOH, not jumping on furniture is not hurting the kid so that's a rule I'd expect them to follow.
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