Author Topic: Is it rude not to help the hostess?  (Read 6751 times)

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Hmmmmm

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Re: Is it rude not to help the hostess?
« Reply #60 on: September 10, 2013, 03:02:10 PM »
Come to think of it, some might questions it when at my ILs gatherings, my MIL, DH, SIL, and (female)cousin-in-law seem to be doing all the cooking and prep while I'm relaxing on the couch.  They all love cooking, while I don't care for it and am not good at it.  Why bother them with my poor chopping skills?

We are also all generally kicked out during clean up time as that is FIL's providence.  He is very particular about how things are cleaned and wants and needs no one else's interference.

So I generally kick back and relax during my visits there!  Frankly, if everyone is assuring you that you should relax and let them take care of things, then I think there's a degree of rudeness in not letting them.

I think as long as you make the offer, then you are fine. But honestly, I'm not sure why so many have posted about poor cooking skills. Offering to serve drinks, set the table, carry items into the dining room, or clear the dining table doesn't require skills.

turnip

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Re: Is it rude not to help the hostess?
« Reply #61 on: September 10, 2013, 03:15:58 PM »
Come to think of it, some might questions it when at my ILs gatherings, my MIL, DH, SIL, and (female)cousin-in-law seem to be doing all the cooking and prep while I'm relaxing on the couch.  They all love cooking, while I don't care for it and am not good at it.  Why bother them with my poor chopping skills?

We are also all generally kicked out during clean up time as that is FIL's providence.  He is very particular about how things are cleaned and wants and needs no one else's interference.

So I generally kick back and relax during my visits there!  Frankly, if everyone is assuring you that you should relax and let them take care of things, then I think there's a degree of rudeness in not letting them.

I think as long as you make the offer, then you are fine. But honestly, I'm not sure why so many have posted about poor cooking skills. Offering to serve drinks, set the table, carry items into the dining room, or clear the dining table doesn't require skills.

I think there's a couple of issues.  First, you'll have to trust my assurance that my ILs are quite content if I stay out of meal prep and cleanup.  This comes back to ( perhaps  unknown) family dynamics.  A stranger at one of our gatherings might raise an eyebrow at me, but if the hosts are happy then it's really none of the stranger's concern.

More specific to your questions there's timing issues, and there's too many cooks issues.  Even in my IL's relatively large kitchen, 4-5 people cooking together is quite enough and they don't want the rest of us tracking in and out getting plates and glasses while they are busy.    Usually there's a point when things calm down and the table can be set - but it's up to the cooks to determine that time and ask for help.  Going up and offering to help while everyone is working is just creating a distraction, so the rest of us don't do it.

Vall

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Re: Is it rude not to help the hostess?
« Reply #62 on: September 10, 2013, 03:20:17 PM »
Do you know anything about the family cultures of Cate's family of origin?  In the family that I grew up in, offers of help were not made.  It simply wasn't done unless maybe if it were a very large holiday dinner hosted by an elderly person--and then tweens and teens might be voluntold.  On both my mother's and father's sides, family dinners were always hosted and family were guests unless they lived in the same household.  If they had a separate household in the same dwelling, they were still guests.  It could be seen as insulting to your host to assume that they needed help in hosting you.  Also, bringing or offering to bring a dish was not done.  This is how I grew up and for me, it will always be the "right" way.

Then I married a wonderful man from the mid-west with a family culture similar to the OP's post.  Everyone automatically brings a dish to all family dinners (which are usually buffet style) and they always jump up to help host and clean.  Luckily, my in-laws see this action as more of a gift rather than an obligation and I'm sure they don't mean it as an insult (even though my first thought is still "insulting").  For my DH, this will always be the "right" way because that's how he grew up.

My DH is uncomfortable in my family's culture because it is so different from his.  I'm uncomfortable in his family's culture (but they are absolutely the best in-laws ever!).  The hosting-but-not-really-hosting thing really throws me for a loop.  Then add to that the fact that I don't cook.  DH does all of our cooking.  He loves being in the kitchen.  I'm uncomfortable and awkward in my own kitchen so you can just imagine how I am in other people's kitchens.  I am absolutely miserable and a bit lost.  I don't know how they want things done or if I'm doing something wrong.

Whether it's me dealing with DH's family culture or him dealing with mine, it's hard to break away from how we were raised.  We can intellectually understand our differences but our own ways will probably always be the "right" ways for each of us.  I don't think that there is only one true "right" way that works for all families or all people.

TootsNYC

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Re: Is it rude not to help the hostess?
« Reply #63 on: September 10, 2013, 03:46:52 PM »
I think that a true guest isn't required to help the hostess.

I don't think a DIL is a true guest, though. Esp. not in this situation as you describe it.

So I will say that unless I had some other piece of info about how things worked, I'd make a mildly negative judgment about Cate that would influence what I expected of her in other situations. I would be alert for other evidence of passivity and "letting other people wait on me." If I didn't find that, then I'd modify my opinion, of course. 

In the case of the other family, "Nora" would also make a bad impression on me. There's a norm that's being expressed, and she's rejecting it. That means something in Etiquette.

Hmmmmm

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Re: Is it rude not to help the hostess?
« Reply #64 on: September 10, 2013, 06:36:27 PM »
Come to think of it, some might questions it when at my ILs gatherings, my MIL, DH, SIL, and (female)cousin-in-law seem to be doing all the cooking and prep while I'm relaxing on the couch.  They all love cooking, while I don't care for it and am not good at it.  Why bother them with my poor chopping skills?

We are also all generally kicked out during clean up time as that is FIL's providence.  He is very particular about how things are cleaned and wants and needs no one else's interference.

So I generally kick back and relax during my visits there!  Frankly, if everyone is assuring you that you should relax and let them take care of things, then I think there's a degree of rudeness in not letting them.

I think as long as you make the offer, then you are fine. But honestly, I'm not sure why so many have posted about poor cooking skills. Offering to serve drinks, set the table, carry items into the dining room, or clear the dining table doesn't require skills.

I think there's a couple of issues.  First, you'll have to trust my assurance that my ILs are quite content if I stay out of meal prep and cleanup.  This comes back to ( perhaps  unknown) family dynamics.  A stranger at one of our gatherings might raise an eyebrow at me, but if the hosts are happy then it's really none of the stranger's concern.

More specific to your questions there's timing issues, and there's too many cooks issues.  Even in my IL's relatively large kitchen, 4-5 people cooking together is quite enough and they don't want the rest of us tracking in and out getting plates and glasses while they are busy.    Usually there's a point when things calm down and the table can be set - but it's up to the cooks to determine that time and ask for help.  Going up and offering to help while everyone is working is just creating a distraction, so the rest of us don't do it.

Since you stated  they are assuring you to relax, I'm sure they do mean it and I'm also pretty convinced they are saying it in response to some implied offer of assistance or it would come across snarky to you.

And in my family, the goal is for no one to be working full time. So a few will be helping with pre-dinner, a few with dinner, and a few with clean up. So there's never more than 2 or 3 in the kitchen at a time.  So if 10 are at dinner, 2 might be getting dessert out, 1 might be stacking the dinner dishes but the other 7 are chatting at the table. It's never "all hands on deck".

Cami

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Re: Is it rude not to help the hostess?
« Reply #65 on: September 16, 2013, 04:42:00 PM »
Well, OP, you'd probably think I was rude if you see me at my ILs, because I'd sit there and do "nothing" too.  What you wouldn't know is that my MIL repeatedly told me I was incompetent in the kitchen and mocked any and every effort I made to help. My MIL also liked to give the appearance of a long-suffering martyr to her family's needs.   My MIL would probably have impressed you as a nice woman and gracious hostess.  Heck, it even took my dh a long time to understand that she wasn't "teasing", so you'd have no way of knowing the dynamics that led to me appearing to sit there while my MIL "ran herself ragged."

metallicafan

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Re: Is it rude not to help the hostess?
« Reply #66 on: September 16, 2013, 05:29:00 PM »
Well, OP, you'd probably think I was rude if you see me at my ILs, because I'd sit there and do "nothing" too.  What you wouldn't know is that my MIL repeatedly told me I was incompetent in the kitchen and mocked any and every effort I made to help. My MIL also liked to give the appearance of a long-suffering martyr to her family's needs.   My MIL would probably have impressed you as a nice woman and gracious hostess.  Heck, it even took my dh a long time to understand that she wasn't "teasing", so you'd have no way of knowing the dynamics that led to me appearing to sit there while my MIL "ran herself ragged."

I am sorry your MIL treats you that way.  That is terrible.

Winterlight

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Re: Is it rude not to help the hostess?
« Reply #67 on: September 16, 2013, 08:28:45 PM »
So one of Dina's daughters-in-law doesn't show up much, and the other one, Cara, shows up, but doesn't help?

My take would be that there are MIL/DIL issues in this family. Perhaps the DILs have been told not to help. Perhaps they have tried to help and been snubbed.

If none of the family members are complaining about the DILs' behavior, I would chalk this up to family dynamics. Every family works out its own solution to things.

I agree with this.  OP, you say Dina is a lovely person but maybe her daughters in law have a different opinion.  If Dina isn't saying anything about Cara's lack of help, then, really, it's nothing to do with you.  It's between Dina and Cara and Cara's DH.

As for the rest of it, I agree with PPs in that it depends on the host/hostess/the family themselves.  Some hosts/hostesses accept help, some don't.  No one's wrong.

This. I think it's down to how the family wants to handle it- Dina could always ask Cate if she needed help.
If wisdom’s ways you wisely seek,
Five things observe with care,
To whom you speak,
Of whom you speak,
And how, and when, and where.
Caroline Lake Ingalls

metallicafan

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Re: Is it rude not to help the hostess?
« Reply #68 on: September 16, 2013, 10:12:30 PM »
Op here.  Thanks for all the replies.  I've decided that I'm just going to let this go, and not think about it one way or the other.