Author Topic: The Etiquette of Dealing with the Etiquette-Proof People in our Lives  (Read 3717 times)

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Venus193

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We all have etiquette-proof people in our lives, hence there are recurring characters in the stories we tell here.  However, there are degrees of this:  Most of the etiquette-proof are not as egregious as the Dresser Queen, Office Annie, Nichol, or K'nnihave.  This question is what we do about the others.

When I posted the poll about my cousin's son in etiquette school, I told some friends in my face to face life as well.  Most of them were impressed, some realized they had no idea that such schools existed, and one person was shocked and asked "Why?"

I knew by the time that question came up that my cousin wants her son to be able to feel comfortable interacting with everyone he is likely to come into contact with in future, including people from more affluent circumstances.  The explanation was met with complete silence, so I changed the subject.

The person in that conversation is the younger sister of an old friend.  She's a good person with a generous heart and a good sense of humor, but seriously lacking in table manners.  When putting gravy on her food and seeing it was about to overflow, she licked that area of the plate.  She does nothing to stifle the sound of belching after eating, excusing it with "[ethnic] compliment" (of an ethnicity that none of us have).  I worry about how this will rub off on her sister's son who will be 12 this spring and is already a challenge as he is a picky eater who won't try even a forkful of anything unfamiliar.

I don't have a dog in this fight but if I were the mother of that boy, what would you recommend doing?


Hawkwatcher

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Re: The Etiquette of Dealing with the Etiquette-Proof People in our Lives
« Reply #1 on: January 05, 2010, 02:35:52 AM »
I think Mom's best bet would be to avoid eating with her sister if possible.  She should find other activities that she can do with her sister and son.

 

ginlyn32

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Re: The Etiquette of Dealing with the Etiquette-Proof People in our Lives
« Reply #2 on: January 05, 2010, 08:26:22 AM »
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« Last Edit: October 18, 2011, 08:21:43 AM by ginlyn32 »
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Venus193

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Re: The Etiquette of Dealing with the Etiquette-Proof People in our Lives
« Reply #3 on: January 05, 2010, 09:51:40 AM »
Hawkwatcher, since the mother is a foodie who loves to cook it would be impossible for her to eliminate meals from interaction with her sister.

Ginlyn, why does anyone allow your father to get away with this?  This is why he sees no reason to change.  If other people would bean dip him or decline to interact with him when he goes off on this kind of a tear he might eventually get the message.  Why doesn't your mother say anything to him about this?

As to your in-laws, they sound like hypercritical neat freaks.  Does your DH stand up to them?

I can understand his not wanting to pay for a hotel but to me it would be a cheap price to pay for mental health.

ginlyn32

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Re: The Etiquette of Dealing with the Etiquette-Proof People in our Lives
« Reply #4 on: January 05, 2010, 03:08:20 PM »
comment deleted by poster.
« Last Edit: October 14, 2011, 02:37:43 PM by ginlyn32 »
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Hawkwatcher

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Re: The Etiquette of Dealing with the Etiquette-Proof People in our Lives
« Reply #5 on: January 06, 2010, 12:08:28 AM »

Hawkwatcher, since the mother is a foodie who loves to cook it would be impossible for her to eliminate meals from interaction with her sister.


Mom is a foodie but the kid is super picky?  There may be more complicated issues than the sister's lack of table manners.

Bethalize

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Re: The Etiquette of Dealing with the Etiquette-Proof People in our Lives
« Reply #6 on: January 06, 2010, 05:09:27 AM »
So the option of staying at a hotel is certainly feasible, but it is not my decision to make. DH does not see a need to pay for one as long as we can stay at my parents or his parents.

Perhaps it's time to communicate your needs to your DH in a way he understands. Not going seems the perfect comprimise.

Venus193

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Re: The Etiquette of Dealing with the Etiquette-Proof People in our Lives
« Reply #7 on: January 06, 2010, 07:07:17 AM »
Venus, I have told my dad how rude he is and how upset it makes me, especially when he embarresses me in public. He does not care.

He'll say he's sorry...he's just joking around..why can't I take a joke? And I tell him that it's not funny and he needs to be more aware of himself.

Ginlyn, I think you need the Toxic Families board at E-hell's old homestead.  The current staff are some posters from the previous incarnation of that board and I think this would help because your father's lack of caring is certainly beyond the scope of etiquette.

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My mother has her own issues. She is more clueless than anything...she'll answer her cell phone while in the check-out line or ordering food, she makes faces at food if she doesn't like the way it looks and she will actually badger the poor sales associate at stores about where their products are made and how much they cost. She really embarressed me at the Coach store once...asking the sales associtate why their products are made in China and that's why she won't buy anything there. I told her almost everything we buy (clothing, accessories and small appliances) are made overseas and she better get used to it or she wont be buying much.

Your parents sound like Blanche's older brother and his wife because your mother's behavior enables your father's.

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My inlaws are not neat freaks. If they were, there would not have been cat hair all over their house when we visited during Thanksgiving. I mean cat hair just coated the curtains and the tops and backs of the furniture. The house reaked of cat pee...so no they are not the neat freaks they pretend to be.

MIL likes to make people feel as thought they are a burden on her. Oh well..her loss.

ginlyn

Their state of denial is astounding.  I recommend avoiding them so they can see how much of a "burden" you and your DH are.

Venus193

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Re: The Etiquette of Dealing with the Etiquette-Proof People in our Lives
« Reply #8 on: January 06, 2010, 07:11:59 AM »

Mom is a foodie but the kid is super picky?  There may be more complicated issues than the sister's lack of table manners.

I think there are, but I'm not sure what they could be.  The child's father is less adventurous about food than the mother, but nowhere near the level of the boy's apparent aversions.  This is mostly about vegetables, although I think proteins figure into it as well.  There are no allergies that I know of.

Oxymoroness

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Re: The Etiquette of Dealing with the Etiquette-Proof People in our Lives
« Reply #9 on: January 06, 2010, 09:03:16 AM »
I don't have a dog in this fight but if I were the mother of that boy, what would you recommend doing?

The tricky part about this question is that the circumstances of the relationship can dictate the majority of the coping techniques. The only 2 universal techniques I can think of is limit contact and grow an extremely thick skin.

For my own situation, my MIL is Etiquette-proof because she is mentally unstable. I have definitely grown a very thick skin and for our own sanity DH and I limit contact. (Cutting her off is not an option at this point.) For us, in addition to this, we correct her in private and when she refuses to modify her behavior we give her a "time out" that seems to keep her in line most of the time. As for the rest, well, that's where the thick skin comes in handy.

For the situation that you mentioned the best thing that the mother can do is be an awesome parent. I have more than a few relatives with ... uhm ... rough manners. But if my brother and I displayed any of those manners, we knew we'd be in for a world of trouble. Yes, kids do often pick up on what's going on around them and try to mimic behaviors. But good parenting sets boundaries and standards for kids regardless of what's going on around them.

A good example of this is Will Smith's grandmother: http://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/bbcworldwide/worldwidestories/pressreleases/2002/07_july/will_smith_radio_times.shtml. In short, Smith swore like every other rapper until his grandmother stepped in and set a standard for him that was beyond that of his peers. His love of her and the desire to keep her respect of him held a greater influence over him than to be exactly like everyone else.

You friend can still be around his sister and have her son learn decent even great table manners. She just has to correct him at the right time and hold him to a greater standard. If she does, someday, he'll thank her.  :)

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Re: The Etiquette of Dealing with the Etiquette-Proof People in our Lives
« Reply #10 on: January 06, 2010, 10:04:44 AM »
A good example of this is Will Smith's grandmother: http://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/bbcworldwide/worldwidestories/pressreleases/2002/07_july/will_smith_radio_times.shtml. In short, Smith swore like every other rapper until his grandmother stepped in and set a standard for him that was beyond that of his peers. His love of her and the desire to keep her respect of him held a greater influence over him than to be exactly like everyone else.

OT, but according to that article, Nelson Mandela was apparently the president of ALL of Africa:
Quote
In March, he attended a screening of Ali in Johannesburg with the former African president, Nelson Mandela.

Seriously, would it have killed them to type the word "South" in there?

Back to our regular discussion.


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Animala

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Re: The Etiquette of Dealing with the Etiquette-Proof People in our Lives
« Reply #11 on: January 06, 2010, 10:33:37 AM »
Does he have any sensory issues?  My kid reacts very badly to some food simply due to sensory problems.  

I will tell you something that would just make my son die.  He is 11 and I have been teaching him proper table manners for years, but his father is a nasty eater. Just straight up disgusting and he doesn't care.  My son, despite his age and own problems is horrified by his father's table manners and doesn't like to eat with him.  Similarly my dad's mother has atrocious table manners, as in if you sat across from her you probably would lose your appetite.  He figured out table manners on his own so he wouldn't look like that.  So what I'm going at is that I'm sure the kid knows how bad her manners are and I don't know that exposure will make it worse, but might make an excellent illustration in what not to do.

Venus193

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Re: The Etiquette of Dealing with the Etiquette-Proof People in our Lives
« Reply #12 on: January 06, 2010, 12:27:10 PM »
Animala, I don't know.   I don't think he has Asperger's or anything like that since he doesn't display any of the other traits.  He once screamed "the texture!" when she tried to get him to try her excellent mulligatawny soup (which an Indian colleague of hers once said "That's better than my wife's") and I saw the boy just dip the spoon in the bowl and barely touch it with his teeth.  I don't know if he eats split pea soup

I sometimes wonder whether his mother passed on her phobia about fish (the father doesn't have a phobia but isn't a fan), but to my knowledge the only veg she won't touch is okra.  That leaves a lot to choose from!

I'm glad to hear that your son minds his table manners.  That will score points when he starts dating in a few years.

Cyradis

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Re: The Etiquette of Dealing with the Etiquette-Proof People in our Lives
« Reply #13 on: January 18, 2010, 02:35:00 PM »
Animala, I don't know.   I don't think he has Asperger's or anything like that since he doesn't display any of the other traits.  He once screamed "the texture!" when she tried to get him to try her excellent mulligatawny soup (which an Indian colleague of hers once said "That's better than my wife's") and I saw the boy just dip the spoon in the bowl and barely touch it with his teeth.  I don't know if he eats split pea soup


Slightly OT, I had lots of texture issues as a kid. Anything vaguely squishy or mushy turned my stomach; I wouldn't eat things like steamed wantons, cooked spinach, cereal and milk, even cake and ice cream together. Thankfully, things improved as I got older. Trifle is still quite a challenge  ;D

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Re: The Etiquette of Dealing with the Etiquette-Proof People in our Lives
« Reply #14 on: January 23, 2010, 10:14:36 AM »
About all one can do is avoid being in situations with them where they will act out.  If that's not possible, then the only other option is to not have them in one's life and say so: "Because of the way you eat, I can't eat with you.  If you insist that I have to be there when you eat, then I'm sorry, but we'll have to spend that time apart."
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