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Miss Manners: Daughter’s boyfriend has rude and wasteful table manners

1 week ago 26

Dear Miss Manners: My husband and I were raised not to put more food on our plates than we would eat, and to stay seated during a meal unless we asked to be excused.

Our adult daughter’s boyfriend was apparently taught differently. He fills his plate to overflowing, though he is very picky and never finishes his food, and actually takes extra meat to give to my daughter’s dog. He doesn’t talk to us during the meal, and whenever he is done, he just gets up and leaves to feed the dog.

We find this to be rude! The waste also bothers me. We have spoken to our daughter about it, and she replies that it's no big deal. She says that we are not being friendly hosts. She spends way more time with his family because they are more “chilled out” and don't mind him giving food to their dogs.

They have been dating for three years. My husband says that if we want our daughter to keep visiting, we should just let this go. Do I have to let it go forever? Should I say something directly to him?

As a parent, you had both the authority and the opportunity to correct your daughter’s manners while she was growing up, and you are likely used to acting in a quasi-parental capacity to her visiting friends, cousins, etc. But boyfriends — particularly adult ones — fall outside of this scope.

Abhorrent though his manners may be, you would do better to treat him as the guest that he is — particularly as you no doubt wish to be consulted on the more pressing matter of whether he should become a permanent part of the family.

Dear Miss Manners: I have noticed, even among people I otherwise consider well-mannered, a new trend. During a meal, when someone wants to speak while eating, they hold their hand up to obscure their mouth. They seem to know that speaking with their mouth full is rude, but they also seem to think this action fools me into thinking their mouth is not full, despite their having just put a forkful of food into it.

I was taught that if someone asks a question or makes a comment requiring a response to someone who is chewing, it is polite to finish chewing, even to hold up one’s finger to indicate “Just a moment, please; I have food in my mouth.” What is the appropriate reaction to this hiding-with-the-hand business? Should I say, “I’m not in a hurry. Take your time. I can wait until you don’t have food in your mouth?” That sounds critical, as if I am trying to impose my manners on them. Help!

Technically, you would be imposing their own manners on them, but never mind.

Miss Manners also finds this covering of the mouth inadequate — by which she means, revolting. As one cannot properly correct another’s manners, the answer is a full stop after the assurance that the speaker should take their time — that you are not in a rush.

New Miss Manners columns are posted Monday through Saturday on washingtonpost.com/advice. You can send questions to Miss Manners at her website, missmanners.com. You can also follow her @RealMissManners.

© 2024 Judith Martin

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