Author Topic: inlaws are more relaxed than my folks-- how to deal with etiquette clash  (Read 3755 times)

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flickan

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Hello, this is my first post though I've lurked a long time before joining!

I'm having a silly small problem that I can't seem to work through between the behavioral norms in my own family and those of the family I married into.  My inlaws are great, no complaints!  We've only been married a year but I've now had the full gamut of family parties and watched how the "kids" in the family behave when it comes to mealtime.  I was raised by very old-fashioned parents and worry a lot about doing things the right way and the polite way when it comes to deferring to older family members.  In my own "family culture" it is considered polite to serve elders first.  When we're called to a meal the older relatives are encouraged to pass through the serving line right away so they can serve themselves from all the available dishes.  Then come the rest of the family with the younger folk (tweens, teens, and young adults) holding back till last.  Little kids of course go with their parents.  No one enforces this, of course, it's just the everyday behavior we've all grown up with.

The family I've married into is much more laid back and has a bit of an "everyone for his or herself" vibe.  I don't have a problem with that at all but it's hard for me to adjust when my instinct is to hold back in deference to older relatives.  When we first started going to family parties when dinner was called my husband would often head to the table right away and encourage me not to hang back waiting for Grandpa and the Great Aunts to dish themselves up.  I couldn't bring myself to be among the first to the food but I couldn't very well say, "Oh I was waiting for the older folks to go," so I settled for dawdling a bit and quietly moving to the back of the line.  When I explained to my husband the problem he laughed it off saying, "We do it differently, don't worry."  But it's a little outside my comfort zone.  I've had the same issue with the larger parties where there's just barely enough seating for all.  Even small children are encouraged to grab a spot as soon as someone gets up and hang on to it for dear life.  I can't imagine taking a seat and letting an older relative stand.

Let me clarify and say I don't by any means think his family is impolite or that I'm holding some "higher" standard.  We aren't even of different cultures, we're both typical Americans.  We just have different house rules and it's uncomfortable to suddenly adjust from way I've been taught was polite and correct for many years and not feel bad about it.  And I don't want to come off as uppity so I don't mention this to the inlaws at all.  Should I go with the flow and ignore the small voice telling me otherwise or should I find some way of explaining myself-- is there even a polite way to do so?  I'm an introvert so speaking up doesn't come naturally.
 


Aquamarine

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Re: inlaws are more relaxed than my folks-- how to deal with etiquette clash
« Reply #1 on: September 27, 2013, 06:38:23 PM »
Their house, their rules.  If they don't go to get their food in any particular order then you don't either.  First come first served is a pretty common theme. 

There is no etiquette clash, no one way is "correct", just different.  You go with the flow, you don't explain yourself there is no upside to telling them that you were taught to do things differently. 
« Last Edit: September 27, 2013, 06:40:31 PM by Rosewater »
Always be polite, even to nasty people. Not because they are nice, but because you are.

guihong

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Re: inlaws are more relaxed than my folks-- how to deal with etiquette clash
« Reply #2 on: September 27, 2013, 06:41:35 PM »
Does your husband take his cue and do as your family does when you visit them?

I know it's out of your comfort zone, but it's not right or wrong either way.  I'd counter your inner voice with the one of your husband laughing it off and saying "Don't worry!", and go with what they do.




flickan

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Re: inlaws are more relaxed than my folks-- how to deal with etiquette clash
« Reply #3 on: September 27, 2013, 06:49:00 PM »
Does your husband take his cue and do as your family does when you visit them?


Yes, he usually takes his cue from me and so stands in line where I do.  He's much more relaxed and laid back than I am so he's at ease no matter what the situation.

Katana_Geldar

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Re: inlaws are more relaxed than my folks-- how to deal with etiquette clash
« Reply #4 on: September 27, 2013, 06:52:31 PM »
Your husbands family sounds like mine. All in, help yourselves as there's more than enough for everyone.

Just go with the flow.

TootsNYC

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Re: inlaws are more relaxed than my folks-- how to deal with etiquette clash
« Reply #5 on: September 27, 2013, 07:16:24 PM »
I would say follow the standard of the world you're in. However, you can also go join the older folks, so that you get your meal when they do.

If I were older, I wouldn't want to feel rushed or crowded about getting my food, so I'd want to go last.

If the older folks are hanging back, they are communicating with you nonverbally. And you should do what they clearly prefer--it is disrespectful to them to ignore the messages they are sending you.

Does that help with the "this is disrespectful" disconnect?

flickan

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Re: inlaws are more relaxed than my folks-- how to deal with etiquette clash
« Reply #6 on: September 27, 2013, 07:20:02 PM »
I would say follow the standard of the world you're in. However, you can also go join the older folks, so that you get your meal when they do.

If I were older, I wouldn't want to feel rushed or crowded about getting my food, so I'd want to go last.

If the older folks are hanging back, they are communicating with you nonverbally. And you should do what they clearly prefer--it is disrespectful to them to ignore the messages they are sending you.

Does that help with the "this is disrespectful" disconnect?

I've honestly never thought of it that way!  I'll have to keep a closer eye out for cues like that.  Thank you for this suggestion!

Bashful

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Re: inlaws are more relaxed than my folks-- how to deal with etiquette clash
« Reply #7 on: September 28, 2013, 02:12:25 AM »
This reminds me of my IL family. In my family before every meal we usually hang out in the living room, near the table. So, when dinner/lunch is called everybody sits at almost the same time and the meal is served. At my PIL house family usually hangs out near the table but, when dinner is called, my husband and his brothers disappear (to do necessary and unnecessary stuff like washing hands or looking something on internet) while SIL and I sit promptly at the table and PIL are busy in the kitchen putting food in dishes. Seeing that we are alone, SIL and I tend to get up and go to the kitchen to help but we are usually rebuffed by FIL who asks us to sit down. So there we are, SIL and I, sitting at an empty table feeling like the most impatient gluttons in the world :)

For flickan situation, I like that Toots suggested to join the older folks: in this way you can comply with the house rules without feeling rude.

Thipu1

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Re: inlaws are more relaxed than my folks-- how to deal with etiquette clash
« Reply #8 on: September 28, 2013, 10:50:41 AM »
First of all, welcome to the boards

Try to relax.  There are as many different ways of handling these things as there are families. 

In our family, the children are fed first.  That way, they can go to the playroom and the adults can (more or less) enjoy an adult meal.  At a served dinner, the platters and bowls just get passed around clockwise.  You get what you get when you get it and nobody has a problem with that. 

In a way, you're fortunate.  There's no real rudeness going on at all.  It's just a different style of family interaction.

kherbert05

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Re: inlaws are more relaxed than my folks-- how to deal with etiquette clash
« Reply #9 on: September 28, 2013, 04:54:15 PM »
Give yourself some time to get used to it. Your husband follows you to the line at your family parties - do the same at his family parties.
Don't Teach Them For Your Past. Teach Them For Their Future

Lynn2000

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Re: inlaws are more relaxed than my folks-- how to deal with etiquette clash
« Reply #10 on: September 28, 2013, 05:14:58 PM »
POD to the others, it's different but it doesn't seem to be rude either way. Although we don't really have a "X group goes first" rule in my family, I still never feel comfortable being the first person in line, even if I happened to be standing right there when the meal was called. I always hang back and let other people start.

I think it would be fine if you were in line with your DH, wherever he ends up being. Or, if you felt super-uncomfortable, it would surely be fine to hang back a bit, as long as you didn't mind that you might not get a seat next to him (if seats are first come, first serve and no one saves them for others). You could always disappear to the bathroom for a minute or something if you felt weird just standing there waiting.
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Promise

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Re: inlaws are more relaxed than my folks-- how to deal with etiquette clash
« Reply #11 on: September 28, 2013, 05:20:34 PM »
You know, this is an interesting cultural question. In my community, the elders were served first, but when I moved away to other communities, the children always ran to the front of the line. As to your question, I agree with other posters that you move in the culture you are in at the time. If both groups are there, explain to your side how the other side acts - kids or whoever go first - so that they don't react and wonder.

On a personal note, I think it teaches respect of elders and teaches children the value of patience when we let our elders go first. In so many groups I'm in, that has been lost.

TootsNYC

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Re: inlaws are more relaxed than my folks-- how to deal with etiquette clash
« Reply #12 on: September 28, 2013, 06:47:14 PM »
POD to the others, it's different but it doesn't seem to be rude either way. Although we don't really have a "X group goes first" rule in my family, I still never feel comfortable being the first person in line, even if I happened to be standing right there when the meal was called. I always hang back and let other people start.


And I always go first--I've decided it's one of the way I serve my fellow man, to go first in the buffet line, especially if it seems like people are hanging back.

Yvaine

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Re: inlaws are more relaxed than my folks-- how to deal with etiquette clash
« Reply #13 on: September 28, 2013, 06:53:37 PM »
POD to the others, it's different but it doesn't seem to be rude either way. Although we don't really have a "X group goes first" rule in my family, I still never feel comfortable being the first person in line, even if I happened to be standing right there when the meal was called. I always hang back and let other people start.


And I always go first--I've decided it's one of the way I serve my fellow man, to go first in the buffet line, especially if it seems like people are hanging back.

There have been times I do this, especially in a group where I can see everyone in the whole room is hanging back, out of a desire to not look piggish. I figure I can be the designated glutton, and open it up for everyone.

Hmmmmm

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Re: inlaws are more relaxed than my folks-- how to deal with etiquette clash
« Reply #14 on: September 29, 2013, 09:59:51 AM »
POD to the others, it's different but it doesn't seem to be rude either way. Although we don't really have a "X group goes first" rule in my family, I still never feel comfortable being the first person in line, even if I happened to be standing right there when the meal was called. I always hang back and let other people start.


And I always go first--I've decided it's one of the way I serve my fellow man, to go first in the buffet line, especially if it seems like people are hanging back.

There have been times I do this, especially in a group where I can see everyone in the whole room is hanging back, out of a desire to not look piggish. I figure I can be the designated glutton, and open it up for everyone.
Me too.

My MIL had your problem on the opposite side. She was so used to being the hostess so went through the line last and before that she was a daughter so was helping her mom and would go through last. At my house it took her a long time to get used to going through first. I finally learned this phrase eased her conscious. "My MIL would you and FIL start the buffet line so we can encourage others to go through.