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Is this how accepted habits change?

(21 Posts)
gmelon Fri 28-Sep-18 13:43:00

We took my Grandson out for his evening meal. Sometimes we do this ad hoc and he's very talkative, likes the individual attention (three younger siblings )and the change of routine.

He very politely, with a big grin, asked me "do you know you're holding your knife and fork in the wrong hands".
I wasn't,
He holds his the American way, fork in right hand. That makes the knife, in his left hand, a little superfluous and awkward.

I've been noticing lately that children don't use a knife and fork the way I and perhaps Gransnetters were taught.

He also gave me a tip that peas are a lot easier when scooped up with the fork and why do I balance them on the top of the prongs. Well because my Grandmother told me it was the way to do it, sign of good breeding she said hmm She was very old fashioned, she brought me up.

Is this how we lose our knowledge of daily habits?
Has civilised eating gone for some families?
Do these rules/habits/routines make up the fabric of our society?
Do you think far more serious things may be changing forever?

His Father, my son, had "etiquette" for the want of a better word drilled into him as a normal expectation.
We all sat at the table, no one started eating until we were all ready, etc.
We weren't unusual and this wasnt long ago, only the eighties and nineties.

Flossieturner Fri 28-Sep-18 14:07:26

I had the opposite, my three year old DD told me that she is not allowed to use a fork as a spoon. When I asked her what she meant she said that the other Granny told her it was “Bad moaners”. I think she meant Bad manners.

stella1949 Fri 28-Sep-18 14:10:33

I don't think that swapping the knife and fork to different hands is going to destroy the fabric of society.

I was also brought up with those strict rules at the table. My mother used to sit there with a palette knife in her hands, and she'd hit your hands with it if you held an implement wrongly. I grew up hating that dining table - it never made me feel civilized to have to eat with someone watching me like a hawk and finding fault.

When I had my children, we did eat at the table but I made sure it was a happy place. If someone picked up the "wrong" tool I'd let them find out for themselves that something else might work better. Or not as the case may be.

I personally think that society is a better place now, than it was when I was growing up. People are not so judgmental, and you don't have to be "free, white and straight" to get by in life. Clinging on to the old ways doesn't do anyone any good in my humble opinion.

Nannarose Fri 28-Sep-18 14:19:41

Quite a few people in my family married Americans, and we were used to different eating styles. The advantages were often commented upon jokily, and kids were teased about which method they preferred.
I really don't care about how, exactly, the implements are used. I'm strict about washed hands, please & thank you, closed mouth when chewing etc. But someone eating with a fork in a different hand isn't going to spoil a meal for me!
I would often have 5-6 children, of different ages, at the meal table. It was enough work to instill the basics. My method was to put out pots of cutlery - help yourself to what feels most useful / appropriate.

Nannarose Fri 28-Sep-18 14:21:55

PS: I'm sure that a 'real' American will be along to explain that you don't hold the knife in the other hand - you use both 'normally' to cut up the food, then put your knife at the side of the plate, and eat with your fork in your dominant hand.

Grannyknot Fri 28-Sep-18 14:31:00

Some cultures eat with their hands and it is perfectly "civilised"! grin

My OH has in recent years refused to take a knife when we eat stuff at home that doesn't need cutting, he just uses a fork. Try and tell a 67 year old man that he can't do that...

OldMeg Fri 28-Sep-18 14:33:54

I don't think that swapping the knife and fork to different hands is going to destroy the fabric of society

Good point Stella 👍🏽

gmelon Fri 28-Sep-18 14:39:49

Yes nanarose you've explained it,
My grandson is doing a mixture of American and what we see as the norm. It makes him eat awkwardly.

By the way I'd like to tell you all that I haven't corrected him and it was all light hearted and happy.

I am asking if these small things will lead to disregarding bigger, important life skills.
I'm not suggesting that table manners are holding the country together.

Teetime Fri 28-Sep-18 14:45:35

Something to consider is the type of food we have now. Rice based dishes, pasta etc dont require a knife, BBQ food is mostly hand held. Meat/fish and two veg are no longer the main meal pattern. DH and I have done the cut up with knife and then transfer fork to the other hand all our lives. We still maintain the don't start eating until everyone is served rule, soup pushed to the far side of the bowl to scoop up, break bread roll into small pieces to eat etc etc etc- we haven't undermined the fabric of society either.

Ilovecheese Fri 28-Sep-18 14:47:34

You are right to call them "habits" that is all they are really, they don't affect anyone's happiness or well being. Different cultures have different habits. Ever hear the story about Queen Victoria drinking from the finger bowl? Because a guest at her table who was from a different culture had done so and she wanted him to feel at ease. Now that is being well mannered, whatever hand holds the knife.

FlexibleFriend Fri 28-Sep-18 14:56:33

My mum and brother are both left handed so we were taught to eat however it was comfortable. I think he's right about peas, always seemed stupid to balance them on the back of the fork to me. I think eating should be pleasurable and a lot of the old rules made it anything but.

gmelon Fri 28-Sep-18 15:10:26

Itcwas my grandson was correcting me, saying his way is the norm.
We're a happy lot and I'm not imposing upon their ways.

It just struck me how quickly the established ways can be cast aside. Made me wonder why we stuck to it for decades in past living memory and now it really seems to matter little?

Ilovecheese Fri 28-Sep-18 15:25:38

Perhaps, it gives a sort of security, knowing that you are doing the right thing in a situation , fitting in, not upsetting anybody?

SueDonim Fri 28-Sep-18 15:31:44

My dil is American and left-handed so that looks very awkward, to my British eyes! When cutting food, Americans turn their fork over so the concave side is uppermost. I'd have thought that was less secure on a slippery plate than holding it convex side up.

The thing about peas is that if you scoop them onto a fork it can be an awkward manoeuvre to get it into your mouth, which risks elbowing your neighbour in the eye. grin I try to eat peas squished up with mash or something like that, to prevent them running away.

sodapop Fri 28-Sep-18 16:03:08

I think the American way of eating looks awkward too Suedonim.
I was always taught to hold the handle of my knife in the palm of my hand and not like a pen. I still tell my family to do this I can't help myself.

SueDonim Fri 28-Sep-18 16:33:05

Yes, using a knife like a pen must make cutting difficult. I suppose if it's what you've grown up with, you can do it but it's not an efficient way to use a knife.

Nonnie Fri 28-Sep-18 16:55:08

Have you seen the way some people hold a pen these days?

DS and DiL came to dinner a couple of days ago while we had people staying and everything was very civilised. No one reached in front of someone else to get the condiments, wine etc., no one spoke over anyone else, everyone waited till all were served before starting to eat and when we had finished the main course DS & DiL automatically got up and cleared the table ready for pudding. Afterwards they cleared everything into the kitchen. Wish I could say the same for everyone who comes for a meal.

I do find the way some hold their cutlery looks awkward to me and I dislike it when someone is cutting up their food and their elbows stick out and touch anyone sitting close. Good manners tend, on the whole, to be about courtesy to others but, having just come back from a walk, I have to say that DH still walks on the outside of the pavement!

Lynne59 Fri 28-Sep-18 18:12:18

Like you, I use my cutlery properly - with the peas too. I'm 59. My sons (37 and 34) do too. However, my 2 Granddaughters (7 and 4), live with their mother - my son has them every other weekend - eat with their cutlery in the way that you mention your Grandson does. It drives me mad to see it, and it looks awkward and uncomfortable - but I say absolutely nothing. They are great kids, perfectly well-mannered and well-behaved, so that's good.

MiniMoon Fri 28-Sep-18 18:39:40

Ogden Nash wrote, "I eat my peas with honey, I've done it all my life. It makes the peas taste funny, but it keeps them on the knife."

MiniMoon Fri 28-Sep-18 18:41:31

Oops, posted too soon. I don't think there's a right or wrong way to use cutlery these days. My grandchildren, the eldest 11, still ask for a teaspoon to eat dessert with.

BlueBelle Fri 28-Sep-18 19:36:13

I don’t find I use a knife too much now as I have mostly rice or noodle dishes if I used a knife for a pie or something I guess I d use it the normal way but I ve always scooped peas up in the fork not on the back they d all fall off
I think you should use cutlery in whatever way is comfortable I never look at other people’s usage I m too busy eating my own I really couldn’t tell you how any of my grandkids eat I do expect them to put the knife and fork together neatly when they ve finished and that’s about it