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Feb 16, 2013 08:20 AM

Manners-dining out vs home. Are they different for you?

I started thinking about this when reading the "Restaurant rewards well-behaved children" thread. I keep reading and hearing about "restaurant manners" and wonder where this came from. Why are there different expectations when dining out?

I posted the following in that thread, which is how I am raising my child and how I was raised myself. My husband, from another area of the US was also raised the same.

<<I find the key is not to teach "restaurant manners" but manners overall. Why does the fact you are in public change how you should behave?

We have the same expectations at home as we do for eating at friends, a family/casual place or a high end place. Manners are manners.

There are some dining/social etiquettes that are different depending on where we are eating ie: which fork or spoon to use, where to place your napkin upon leaving the table, holding someones chair, etc but proper manners/being polite/being safe is SOP for our family.>>

Have we become a society where manners, being polite and being safe while dining only matter in public?

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  1. They are the same, for the most part. When it is just my husband and I, and upon mutual agreement, we sometimes Kindle at the table.
    But yes, it's usually conversation, no hats, stay at the table until everyone is finished, no belching/farting (well, we try, anyway), chew with one's mouth closed, please and thank-you.
    When our children were here, we ate at the table.
    Our children displayed the same manners at home or in a restaurant, they knew what was expected of them and complied. I don't recall any restaurant disasters or unruly behavior. If we were out with them and they were cranky or over tired, we didn't take them to a restaurant. We'd hit a drive through if going right home was not an option.

    6 Replies
      1. re: wyogal

        Kindle, you read a book? That reminds me of the time I was in a nice restaurant and a hubby and wife were on their cell phones for the entire lunch.

        1. re: James Cristinian

          at home, mutual consent, just the two of us, not often. I would never do that in a restaurant.

          1. re: James Cristinian

            I read books when eating alone, and often with my brother or my late father when having lunch. But then, we're a family of readers. Dinner is always for conversation, and normal table manners (don't lick the plate, don't eat the mashed potatoes with your hands, use your knife and fork, say please and thank you, don't reach across people, etc.) are the same at home or in a restaurant.
            NO cell phones, ever, though!

          2. re: wyogal

            Your post reminded me of an online friend and his wife who joined us at our vacation rental cottage one summer. I made lunch and we all, including our 13 y.o. sat down to eat. When my daughter asked to be excused, the wife got a look of total disbelief and confusion on her face and said "I cannot remember the last time I heard a child ask to be excused from the table!" Her husband said, "yeah. our boys don't even say excuse me when they fart at the table!."

          3. everyone has a night when takeout pizza on paper plates in front of a movie is the plan.

            Nobody eats at McDonald's with a knife and fork and a linen napkin.

            Being polite and safe is always a requirement, but different locations have different etiquette rules.

            10 Replies
            1. re: sunshine842

              Those examples are not manners

              If we choose to have a movie night in front of the TV I still expect that proper manners be displayed-no chewing with your mouth open, using a napkin, saying please, thank you, etc.

              At McDonalds I expect they will sit in their seats, not scream or yell, use a napkin, say please, thank you, clean up after themselves, not run around.

              I am teaching my child that:

              <<There are some dining/social etiquettes that are different depending on where we are eating ie: which fork or spoon to use, where to place your napkin upon leaving the table, holding someones chair, etc but proper manners/being polite/being safe is SOP for our family.>>

              1. re: foodieX2

                Each of those examples is a situation in which the rules of etiquette are vastly different from the other situations.

                Basic rules of eating like a human being are the please-thank you-not chewing with your mouth open.

       night might be paper towels for napkins and eating pizza with your fingers.

                McDonald's is only somewhat more structured.

                So let's take it a little further.

                Let's go to Applebee's (shudder, but since most people are familiar with it, we'll use it). Knife and fork, napkin, please and thank you, ordering off the menu, tipping properly....

                ...but nowhere near the rules of etiquette necessary at a starred restaurant. (three forks, two spoons, two knives, and multiple glasses just don't happen at McDoodle. It's a different game with different rules)

                Different situations have different rules -- basic consideration of other people is a constant.

                1. re: sunshine842

                  We are saying the same thing. Etiquette is different than manners.

                  I have the same expectations of my children at IHOP or Babbo. At home or at the Queens. At movie night or Thanksgiving. At breakfast and at dinner. You don't get a pass on manners because you are at Crapplebees.

                  1. re: ritabwh

                    Actually in most fancy restaurants these days, rather than sit down to a table set with an elaborate assortment of cutlery, the waitstaff tends to bring the specific pieces for each course, serially, and only gives each customer the pieces intended for what he/she ordered. So, unless you think that it's appropriate to use the knife for eating peas, you are not that likely to select the wrong implement. But, there are challenges aplenty in banquet settings, where the place settings are laid in advance for all of the courses.

                    On "advanced" etiquette rules, how about finger bowls? I've seen situations where guests have mistaken them for a water glass and sipped from them!

                      1. re: masha

                        Ive seen a finger bowl sipped with a spoon when mistaken as soup....

                        1. re: sunshine842

                          There is a story, perhaps apocryphal, of one of the great hostesses in one of the great cities, who, when she saw a guest at her dinner table sip from his finger bowl, immediately sipped from her own, and soon the entire dining party was sipping from their finger bowls.

                            1. re: Jay F

                              And there's the one, when a guest broke a delicate tea cup, the hostess threw hers on the floor and broke it also, then said friends were more important than teacups.

                              1. re: sandylc

                                I heard that one, too, except it was a wineglass.

                  2. I don't have children yet, but in terms of actual behavioral manners, I don't think there should be any difference as to what kind you use, no matter where you are at. Sure, if it's just two adults who casually dine together at home, it's different, but once kids are in the mix you have to up the game a bit so they learn the right way.

                    1. Is it bad that I read the title to this post and immediately thought "uh, yea!" I eat most meals alone so perhaps that's why but there is much utensil licking, plate wiping with bread with the occasional finger swipe. However, if I'm hosting or people are eating with meal of course not, my manners are similar to a restaurant unless it's just me and SO and then it's more eating-alone style.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: fldhkybnva

                        but yet somehow I'm guessing that you are capable of impeccable table manners **when the situation requires it**.

                        In the meantime, put your feet up on the coffee table, rest that paper plate on your tummy, and enjoy your dinner. ;)

                        1. re: sunshine842

                          Yup, when I need manners they are quite good I must admit, but at home my debutante coach would be appauled. I worked a pretty long night yesterday so had some lovely ankle swelling and dinner was eaten on the couch, feet elevated on 3 pillows on the table with bowl nicely tucked into the nice cradle space between, laptop on legs. It sounds complicated, but was quite comfortable.

                      2. Good God! Yes!

                        My OH (Other half) had a right go at me the other day as I licked the plate. As tempting as it is, I don't think I will be doing that in any restaurant. When I am eating something tasty, I want to make sure I get every last bit LOL

                        I remember as children, my sisters and I were being disgusting at the dinner table once. My Mum threatened us with not going on holiday unless we got rid of our bad manners and didn't let her down in public. Cue all three of us eating like pigs in an effort to "get rid of our bad manners".

                        I do tend to behave in restaurants - use the correct piece of cutlery and so on. However, I am a bit of a rebel and would love one day to eat somewhere really posh and tuck the napkin into my shirt collar and lick the plate.

                        14 Replies
                        1. re: PhilipS

                          Glad I'm not married to you! ;-)

                          Seriously, don't you find that to be disrespecful to your dining companion(s)?

                          1. re: sandylc

                            Sandy, I know someone who will use his fingers to extract every last bit of something he likes from his plate, where others might use a piece of bread. He has licked the plate clean, too. All of this in restaurants, mind you.

                              1. re: Jay F

                                Hope he washed his hands after using the loo

                                1. re: PhilipS

                                  Believe it or not, he's actually very particular about his personal cleanliness. At least two showers a day.

                            1. re: PhilipS

                              Ha! My mom always claimed because we needed good manners because "you never know when the queen will invite you to dinner". I was always puzzled as to why the queen might invite me anywhere since it didn't seem likely we'd become friends, but by the time I realized Mom was full of it, the manners part had become automatic. Now I get to relax and be a bit more lax around my husband. Not Mom, though. God forbid you cut a roll with a knife... she'll murder you.

                              1. re: Hobbert

                                <God forbid you cut a roll with a knife…she'll murder you.>>

                                With my mom is was buttering more than just your small bite of roll. LOL

                                1. re: foodieX2

                                  Ugh that too! She had some roll issues. Perhaps a childhood roll trauma?

                                  1. re: Hobbert

                                    LMAO. Maybe someone tried to shut her up by stuffing one in her mouth.

                                    My mom definitely had issues with the etiquette of bread/roll eating and with soup manners. NO SLURPING! Bring the spoon to your mouth not your mouth to spoon! The spoon moves away from you!

                                    1. re: foodieX2

                                      Ha. Maybe we should start a group therapy session- Children of Manners Nazis.

                                      1. re: foodieX2

                                        I reinforced those soup rules, too, but not with much fanfare, just as a point of information. Well, except for wall shaking slurps, anyhoo.

                                2. re: PhilipS

                                  <My OH (Other half) had a right go at me the other day as I licked the plate. As tempting as it is, I don't think I will be doing that in any restaurant.>

                                  I remember eating a meal at a diner w/ my sis and she said to me "That was so good, I want to lick the plate!" I hope I told her to go ahead as she probably would have gotten a cheer from the wait staff - it was that kind of place (Ed Debevic's - old school diner). That's a serious compliment.

                                  1. re: JerryMe

                                    that's why they invented bread for heavens sake. and yes, check Ms. Manners, Emily Post, whatever. If you do it neatly, 'sopping up' gravy and sauce with your bread is completely acceptable.

                                    1. re: KaimukiMan

                                      in restaurants in Europe, they'll tear off a small piece of bread and spear it with a fork -- then you can mop sauce with the bread neatly and subtly.

                                      In private homes, however, the bread is held in the fingers to get every last drop of sauce.