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Hosts appalled by family's table manners

DEAR AMY: My husband and I just hosted another family meal and, once again, I am dismayed by the complete lack of basic manners and courtesy from various adult family members.

No one says please or thank you. Many of them chew with their mouths open and talk with their mouths full. They are all older than 40. I can't think of any polite way to make them aware of their rudeness, but I am sick of it. Any suggestions?

Grossed Out

DEAR GROSSED: One suggestion is for you as host to slow the meal way down and try to introduce a new pace and thus a new way of interacting at the table. People tend to be gross when rushing through the meal.

There is no polite or easy way to correct adults in front of other adults. If you are the parents of these 40-somethings, you get a special dispensation and can probably get away with saying, "Whoa Bart, can you please finish chewing before you talk? We'll wait." Siblings can also sometimes rib one another into compliance, but they can't do that if their own manners are atrocious.

Otherwise, depending on your relationship, you can speak to each privately, saying something like, "I've noticed that our table manners have really disintegrated, and it's pretty gross when we're eating together. Have you noticed this? Can you help me to restore some civility at the next dinner?" Enlisting your table mates as partners may help each become more aware of his or her behavior.


DEAR AMY: Your answer to "Tired of Fishing" was way off base. This was a letter from a gentleman asked to drive 240 miles round trip for a holiday party, and his female friend who invited him was put out when he suggested spending the night. You jumped to the conclusion that he wanted a booty call. I concluded that the man did not want to drive 120 miles home that night. You should have pointed out he could have communicated better to his lady friend that he would like a recommendation to a nearby hotel, and maybe before making the long drive home they could meet up for breakfast. But my goodness, your answer was just plain insulting to the gentleman.

Martha in Chicago

DEAR MARTHA: The gentleman said he could afford a motel but wanted to stay at her place. I jumped to the same conclusion as the lady in question.

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