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Table Manners (or lack of!)

(81 Posts)
Ngaio1 Thu 07-Feb-19 16:44:04

My daughter's boyfriend came to dinner last evening. His table manners are appalling! Elbows on the table, chewing with mouth open and waving and pointing with his irons! He is a quite well spoken chap and when away from the table, well mannered. She is very fussy and yet didn't seem to notice.

Teacheranne Fri 08-Feb-19 13:22:01

I have never understood why people complain about elbows being on the table. I don't have mine on the table while actually eating but I might do when relaxing and chatting.

I do find talking with food in mouth or chewing with mouth open off putting though.

Maybe in this case the boyfriend was nervous?

Lilylaundry Fri 08-Feb-19 13:29:27

This reminds me a Mr Wonderful I met in the sixties. He came to fix a Dictaphone (remember those?) in the office where I worked. He was GORGEOUS. He asked me out to the cinema. I was on cloud nine! As he walked me home from the cinema he bought us fish and chips, we sat on someone's garden wall to eat them. I just couldn't believe what a slug he turned into, chomping away, mouth wide open to accept another huge handful of food, bits of food falling out of his mouth. Suddenly he went from being GORGEOUS to HORRENDOUS. Another frog I'm sorry to say, except I couldn't bring myself to kiss this one after that display.

Speldnan Fri 08-Feb-19 13:43:28

I think it’s not his fault- i.e. I blame the parents for not teaching him table manners. They don’t come naturally and it’s a struggle teaching them to kids. But as I’m always saying to my DD if you don’t teach manners including table, to your children it will make life difficult for them and they may not be welcomed by people. Adults can learn though.. I met up with my son (who was adopted) about 20 years ago. His manners in general were terrible as was his language. But he’s been integrated into the family and has married a well mannered woman. Now he has no problem and has learnt by example.

breeze Fri 08-Feb-19 13:53:30

Anja are you a ventriloquist grin just a joke I know what you meant.

One of my bugbears is people make noises whilst eating. I have a friend who is always on a diet but loves puddings. If she ever indulges she makes disgusting snuffling/snorting type pig noises through her nose! I was horrified first time I heard her do it. It's obviously some kind of pleasure thing but it's revolting.

I only put elbows on the table after eating if it's a dinner party that goes on and I need to prop my ancient self up!

My father was very strict. If he saw us slouching at the table he would wrench our shoulders up and bark 'sit up straight'.

I think standards have dropped. I brought my 3 DS up trying to instil good manners at the table. My DH and DS all eat in what I would call a 'manly' way grin but one of my sons has developed awful habits in recent times. Even my husband noticed and he rarely notices anything. He really shovels his food in. I keep meaning to 'ave a word' but he doesn't sit opposite me when he visits so I (usually exhausted from catering) keep forgetting. I'm hoping a nice girlfriend will point it out as he would be more likely to listen.

Craftycat shock

breeze Fri 08-Feb-19 13:56:57

Ngaio1 I forgot to say. Your DD might not notice now. But she will smile

I once had a boyfriend with really long hairy fingers. I was so in love they didn't matter. As the relationship went on and not all that well, his hands got bigger and bigger until all I could see were those long hairy fingers!

Love is blind smile

grandtanteJE65 Fri 08-Feb-19 14:10:57

I won't mention the boyfriend' s lack of table manners to your daughter, that will only hurt her, but I would draw the young man aside and ask him to keep his mouth shut while he is chewing his food, as seeing him eat with it open is putting you off your dinner!

He may be offended, but he might just take the hint.

If he waves his knife and fork about, ask him jokingly if he has ever considered taking up fencing?

Rosina Fri 08-Feb-19 14:29:48

Waving cutlery around is a pet hate of mine - I'm always telling the DGC to lay their cutlery on their plate if they are pausing in eating - a waving fork on a crowded table - ugh! Could have someone's eye out! Good table manners do seem to be declining unfortunately; some people are a diet in themselves when you are forced to watch the cement mixer effect with every large mouthful and then sprayed with whatever they are eating because of open mouthed chewing or deciding to talk.

Anja Fri 08-Feb-19 14:52:26

Teacheranne I believe the idea of keeping elbows off the table originated in the days when most people couldn’t afford a good table. It was a piece of wood placed on uprights or a table cobbled together as best they could.

Neither were very stable. So if everyone put their elbows on the table and leaned on them the table might collapse.

It’s one of those types of ‘polite’ behaviour which has no justification these days, but people just continue to hold up as an example o ‘good’ manners.

FlexibleFriend Fri 08-Feb-19 14:57:48

Elbows on the table oh gosh I think I'll have an attack of the vapours.
Seriously what century are we in?
Really is he a kind and gentle soul to your daughter because surely that matters far more than where he puts his elbows while eating.

Anja Fri 08-Feb-19 15:08:33


breeze Fri 08-Feb-19 15:10:01

Following on from my earlier post, it brought to mind a very funny incident with my father. We 4 girls were sitting at the kitchen table eating one evening and chatting and laughing loudly. He was annoyed (not ladylike) so ran into the room and shouted 'Don't eat with your mouth full'.

How we kept the food in our mouths and didn't explode I will never know!

sluttygran Fri 08-Feb-19 15:20:44

I have a dear relative who is the most appallingly noisy eater.
Last time she ate with us, I served corn on the cob, and she ate the whole thing, not just the corn kernels! It sounded so much like horse chewing, I just couldn’t believe it! confused

breeze Fri 08-Feb-19 15:33:36

sluttygran grin ouch, her insides!

Same boyfriend as mentioned above (he of the hairy fingers) was served prawns with the tail on. I heard this horrid crunching noise. He was eating the tail shell!

And my second husband once hit a woman on the next table with a snail as he was trying to grip it in the snail tongs! I was mortified! grin

Was funny though!

All sorts of restaurant 'faux pas' are now running through my head, including the time I came out of the ladies with my dress stuck in my tights and a very nice lady pointed it out to me! blush

Not bad manner incidents but there you go.

Abigailmckd Fri 08-Feb-19 15:50:04

He is probably a lovely guy apart frm this.she has her reasons for being with him.

Tillybelle Fri 08-Feb-19 15:54:21

Ngaio1 First point - is he from a different culture? Not integrated in Britain? Because some cultures are showing enjoyment of the food and thus respect to the cook by eating loudly and enthusiastically. If so obviously appropriate polite and sensitive explanation about British ways has to be introduced.
If this is not the case, it reminds me of several very British
young adult men (early 20s) whom I recall being identical. I cannot eat while someone chews open-mouthed and smacks their mouth noisily as they chew. With one I mentioned to his father (divorced) with whom he lived and with whom I thought I had a good relationship, that his son might put girls off by eating thus. Father went ballistic at me. Reason for son's disgusting behaviour explained!
Another came to our Public School where my Husband was a House Master and was given us as a Junior House Tutor. Many Masters came to my husband to ask him to teach him table manners! This was to a member of the teaching staff, not one of the boys!

First point of action lies with your daughter who needs to explain to him basic table manners and tell him he either shows respect for others at the table or he cannot eat with them. If this does not work I would speak to him! If he still persisted doing it at the table, I hate it so much that I would probably say something there and then. Probably though, that would cause some kind of horrible row. But then at your home, at your table you should be able to eat with guests without them making you feel sick!

Abigailmckd Fri 08-Feb-19 15:59:05

Gone girl

Washerwoman Fri 08-Feb-19 17:00:17

I know how you feel Nagaiol .One of our DDs partners holds his knife and fork in such a strange way and it also looks very awkward when he tries to cut anything.He is from a large family where sitting at the table for meals didn't seem to happen regularly,and DD has had to accept sometimes he eats on the sofa watching TV spearing his food.Although now she insists if she has cooked they sit at the table.He's however a lovely,polite ,helpful and hard working lad.And never fails to say thank you for a meal at ours,and always jumps up to help clear the table.Brings us a gift when he comes to stay ,and offers to treat us to meals out.I used to be itching to correct him,but now let it go.He makes DD very happy.
Other DDs partner on the other hand holds cutlery properly,eats slowly and has better table manners. But unless DD prompts him, or we ask, rarely offers help.And despite getting lots of help with their DD,and countless meals I can barely recollect him turning up with anything,or treating us.
If I'm honest the lad with the worst table manners is my preferred house guest!

Blencathra Fri 08-Feb-19 19:19:11

I don't expect that Ngaoil realises that this thread is on Twitter and Facebook. No comments on Twitter but the 2 that have replied so far on Facebook think you are making a fuss about nothing.

Lyndiloo Sat 09-Feb-19 02:12:00

Blencathra Do posts on Gransnet automatically go onto Facebook & Twitter? OMG - I thought that this was 'just between ourselves'! I'll be more circumspect in future!
Re: table-manners. My mum was very strict about them. And I passed that on to my children, but sadly they're not passing them on! My grandchildren aren't too bad, but when I see something that I would not have put up with, I have to bite my tongue.
My take on this is ... why not teach your children the correct way of behaving at the table? How much time and energy does it take to make sure that children know how to behave correctly? And it will serve them well in later life. They will be able to eat anywhere, and with anybody, knowing that their manners are impeccable. It just becomes a habit. (We still teach children not to pick their noses, or scratch their bums, in public! So why not table-manners?)
I can't bear knives and forks just scattered on a plate when the eating is done!
I can't bear a badly set table, with cutlery laid out all over the place!
You're doing it anyway - so just do it right!
My daughter - years ago - brought home a man who had a cheese sandwich. I couldn't believe the noise he made eating it! Slop, slop, slop. Mouth open, so you could see it all going round. I thought at first that it was a joke. But no, that's how he ate.
But no, Ngaoil, I wouldn't even mention this young man's bad manners to your daughter. I've found (having two daughters) that the more you criticise their choice, the more supportive of them they become. Trust her. She will have noticed his bad manners. And she will sort it.

llizzie2 Sat 09-Feb-19 02:17:06

I am not on his side: my children would not have done that, but I cannot help but think that perhaps he was so intent on being sociable to everyone instead of being stiff and having no conversation? Perhaps when he has learned to relax in your company he will remember his manners. I think I would prefer him at the table than someone shy and awkward with his head buried in his plate all the time. He will follow your lead once the ice is well and truly broken. He may of course be testing you, wondering if you are critical or not. You never know what is in the mind of men.

Blencathra Sat 09-Feb-19 07:26:56

Not automatically Lindyiloo. They just choose threads they think will get people onto Gransnet. I don’t bother coming onto Gransnet unless I see something that catches my interest on Twitter. On the whole it doesn’t get much attention on Twitter but it will be on Facebook too and that tends to get more comments.
I pointed this out last month but the thread disappears. I shall continue pointing it out to OP that if they start a thread they need to look to other social media sites for replies because they probably have no idea that it is shared elsewhere.

annep1 Sat 09-Feb-19 08:15:14

Everything sounds fine apartfrom the noise. Don't like noisy eating or showing the food in your mouth. yuk!. But really some table manners are so out of date and don't matter at all.

harrigran Sat 09-Feb-19 09:08:59

Someone on FB said they had been in a restaurant, not a fast food joint, and seen an adult male eat a meal with his fingers. They said it was the kind of food that required cutlery but he didn't seem to think so. Sadly, not many people were shocked by the lack of table manners.

PECS Sat 09-Feb-19 09:15:36

I am not too worried about using fingers to eat. It is custom and practice in many parts of the world. Our cutlery and use is relatively recent! Having a celebratory Chinese New Year meal with DGC we were talking about eating implements and they were very clear aboutcwhen it was , was not ok to use fingers. Would not have passed every GNers expectations but were fine by me!

Rufus2 Sat 09-Feb-19 09:28:11

You never know what is in the mind of men
IIizzie2. Give you one guess! grin But nothing to do with the topic of this thread i.e. Table Manners.