Saturday, November 15, 2014

It Is Not Dinner Host's Place To Teach Children Manners

Dear Tazi:

My brother and his wife have three beautiful children, all who lack basic manners.  I realize it is not their fault that they do not comport themselves like civilized human beings, but my sister-in-law’s fault for not teaching them basic manners.  With Thanksgiving coming up, I am concerned about how the children will behave during our family’s formal dinner.  

I realize it is in poor taste to discipline another woman’s children, but I do not think I will be able to sit idly by and watch my nephew and nieces act like animals during what is supposed to be a classy celebration.  Furthermore, I do not wish for my children to think that such primal behavior can go without reprimand. 

Since I will be hosting Thanksgiving this year, I believe it would be appropriate for me to correct the unacceptable manners of my nephew and niece, should they display them.  My husband, however, has told me that a gracious host does not publicly humiliate their guests.  My intent will not be to publicly humiliate these children, but rather to save them from public humiliations down the road by teaching them proper manners now.  I believe that guests should follow the standard set by their host, and that I would simply be educating these children to behave as expected.  What do you say, Tazi?  Who is right, my husband or me?

Gracious Host

Dear Gracious Host:

I have one question for you, regarding something that is bothering me: does your brother have a role in raising his children?  Or does his wife do 100% of the child rearing?  I ask because you assign all blame to your sister-in-law for your nephew and nieces’ lack of decorum.  I believe you when you say that your intent is not to publicly humiliate the children, because I am getting the impression that your intent is to publicly humiliate your sister-in-law.  

I am going to have to side with your husband on this issue – to an extent.  He is correct that a gracious host does not publicly humiliate their guests; however, a gracious host also does all that they can to ensure the comfort of all of their guests.  If your nephew and nieces are as vagabond as you claim their lack of manners will certainly affect the comfort of your other guests.  Since Thanksgiving is still a few weeks away, I suggest that you contact your brother and discuss the issue of table manners with him – not your sister-in-law.  Explain to him that Thanksgiving will be a formal affair, and that you want to give him a head’s up so he and his wife can explain to the children what is expected of them, as well as how to handle the formalities of which fork to use.  Tell him that you will be having the same conversation with your own children (and then have that conversation) so he does not feel that his children are being singled out among many.  

You do not say how old your nephew and nieces are, but if they are old enough to sit with the adults than they are old enough to learn proper and formal table manners.  If your brother feels that formal table manners are a little too much for his children to handle, with consideration to their age, you should act the part of the gracious host and provide a children’s table – at which your own children should sit, as well.  If their manners are as good as you imply your nephew and niece will pick up their cues from your children.


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

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