General Etiquette > Family and Children

Kids standing and sitting on the table

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Another-what can I say if the parents dont discipline -thread.

Background1: We celebrated Christmas early at my moms house with my DB, his GF, and their two kids, nephew and niece.  Nephew just turned two years old and hes a lovely and sweet little guy but his parents rarely tell him no.  As a consequence I am starting to see him engaging in behaviors that I deem inappropriate.  One of these behaviors in particular is climbing on the table where we eat.  He will sit and or stand on the table, and play on the table.  If you take him off the table he will climb right back on and his parents do not intervene at all.  Not only is there an ick factor from his feet and diapered patootie all over the table but it is really inconvenient when you are trying to use the table for any purpose as he is constantly trying to grab phones, remotes, magazines, utensils, etc.  So basically if he is on the table anything you are using at the table is fair game and rather than the parents reining him in they put the onus on you to move all of your stuff.

Background2:  My mom threw out her back and I had to take over preparing the Christmas meal as my mom could not even get out of bed.

So normally I put up with this table behavior because my mom does not say anything and it is her house.  It became a real issue for me as I was preparing dinner this time instead of my mother.  Dinner was just about ready to go on the table in about 15 minutes when I started setting the table.  This included utensils (knives also) which I put in the middle of the table out nephews reach, assuming he was on the floor where he should be.   I went back into the kitchen to get food out of the oven and place them on the counters I had specifically cleared for this purpose.  I turn around to see that SIL has un-set the table and placed everything where the food is supposed to go.  Fuming, but without a word, I proceed to reset the table.  I go back to the food and see that she is bringing all of the tableware back in the kitchen again.  I stop her and tell her that all of the counter space is being used and this cannot come back in here.  She tells me she with a tone of annoyance (at me)  that she has to keep it away from nephew.  I really wanted to say, I think you need to keep nephew away from the table and not what belongs on the table away from nephew, but what I actually said was I dont care where you put it, but nothing is going on these counters but food. 

So she then stashed all of the tableware and condiments at various high places in the dining room.  Consequently at the very last minute we had to hunt down all of these items and then when we were eating had to keep almost everything on one end of the table out of his reach as he kept standing on his chair and trying to climb over plates full of food to reach them.  It is really getting frustrating trying to eat a meal with one hand and form a human barrier blocking nephew from any items on the table with the other.

Firstly, I dont have kids of my own so just want to make sure I am not making a bigger deal of this than it really is.  Secondly looking for what I can say to them considering these are not my kids and these things are not happening at my home?

I think you would have be well within reason to tell SIL to keep nephew off the table while you were setting it.  Something like, "There's no room in here and we'll need those things when we start eating; please leave the things on the table and keep nephew off."

Have you tried telling nephew, "no", instead of just blocking him from your food?  I'd give it a shot.  Just calmly look at nephew and say, "Nephew, please don't grab my plate while I'm trying to eat."  It may work, or at least wake your brother and SIL up to the fact that other people may be bothered by nephew's behavior.

You could also try asking your mother how she feels about nephew grabbing everything.  Maybe if the family presents a united front with nephew, things will change.

First off, you are NOT overreacting. I have never heard of parents allowing a toddler to climb all over a dinner table, much less while people are using it! It's extremely dangerous for all involved.

I would pull the parents aside and frame it as a concern for his safety: "DB, GF, I have to admit, I'm really worried about nephew and the table. Every time he does it I'm terrified he'll injure himself".

you absolutely can and should do/say something.

when he climbs on the table, put him off the table. if he climbs back on - plunk him on the lap of your brother or his wife "here's your cutie! please keep him off the table" and walk away.

When your SIL took the stuff off the table (seriously! what nerve!) instead of fuming silently just say "why are you doing that? the table needs to be set now, please leave things as they are". if when she continues to take things off, be firm (bonyk had good wording).

As other posters have said, there's a BIG safety issue here and it should be addressed. 

I was always taught that a table  was to be used only for 'table things' such as eating, reading and quiet crafts.  All these activities were to be done at different times.  I wasn't  even allowed to pretend the table was a fort and play under it when the table wasn't in use.

Kitchens and dining rooms can be full of hazards for little ones and little ones in these places can be hazardous to grown-ups. 

Cats on the table, no.  Toddlers on the table,  certainly not. 



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