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Dinner time woes

ForestMamma's picture

My partner was raised in a strict home and that has spilled out onto my son especially at dinner. Son (13) is HFA and can't seem to remember all the dinner table rules that his step dad has given. No elbows, don't tap your plate, don't fidget with cutlery, keep cutlery in hands, stay seated till everyone is done etc. I don't ever get a chance to correct any behaviour as my partner is always on it. Even when the son apologizes he tells him not to and gets angry as he thinks the apology isn't genuine. 

when we have guests over for dinner they always say there's such tension at the table and ask if my partner is mad. 

im so sick of having dinner each night like this. Some nights I can mediate it better than others but this has just become too much. Any insight is appreciated. 

tog redux's picture

It's not your partner's place to discipline your kid, period, so tell him to knock it off. Assuming your son has reasonable table manners, if he doesn't like how he eats, he can eat elsewhere. This sounds very controlling and a recipe for making your son hate him.

hereiam's picture

I'm all for table manners but your partner sounds controlling and abusive.

Sorry, but no way would I let someone treat my kid that way.

caninelover's picture

Even I would fail his table manners rules LOL.  He shouldn't discipline your son and your son is HFA so may never have perfect table manners.  Perhaps as a compromise he can name 3 things he wants your son to improve on and you can work on them one at a time (e.g. first work on no elbows on the table and practice that.  When son gets that down, celebrate with him, then 'graduate' to the next item on the list).

I wouldn't feel comfortable at that table either.

SteppedOut's picture

Echo above. OP, is he a jerk to you also? Regardless, do not let him be a jerk to your son!

ESMOD's picture

I echo everyone's sentiments above.. your SO is being a jerk.. you should be the one speaking up if it's a serious enough infraction.. otherwise, your SO doesn't get to take his hyper OCD attitude out on the kid.

I might also see about letting your son eat earlier/elsewhere vs having him subjected to this military action meal.

Ursula's picture

Your husband needs to knock it off.  Unless your son is eating like an animal at a trough.  But it sounds like he is unreasonably strict.  

Winterglow's picture

Does he nag at you too for not complying with his every rule?

Tell him he either lets your son eat in peace or he can eat somewhere else or before or after you and your son. You will NOT allow him to bully your son anymore. Furthermore, he is your son and henceforth you will deal with his table manners as you see fit. 

Your DuH is a bully who is ruining every meal for everyone at the table. Ask him if that makes him happy, if he gets a kick out of his control spree.

Call him out on how incredibly RUDE he is being by picking on your son in the presence of guests and making them uncomfortable. His upbringing might have been strict but it clearly missed the chapters on being polite and being a good host.

ForestMamma's picture

Anytime I've tried to stand up in the past he gets mad, leaves the table and doesn't speak to me for the rest of the night. He feels that he's being disrespected in his own home and that he's only trying to in still good manners and respect. 

he has been controlling with me in the past but I speak out and have threatened to leave in the past. He tones it down, goes on good behaviour then it resurfaces with little things like this. It's not all terrible and that's why I'm still here 5 years later but the little nit picking digs periodically are becoming insurmountable. 

caninelover's picture

This is not normal behavior. 

You should not accept it regardless of it all 'not being terrible' (which is not exactly a ringing endorsement of love and comittment).  And your son should certainly not have to deal with it.

Rags's picture

I completely understand the strict table manners thing.  I am completely on board with requiring table manners.  It amazes me how many people have no clue about table manners.  13 is long past old enough to undertand and comply with table manners. 

However, as a kid on the spectrum, I can empathise with his struggles to keep the manner rules straight.

Your SO needs to back off and lighten up.  If your DS were the usual 13yo I could understand your SO's frustration.  But... your SO should have enough brains to understand that your son is not the usual 13yo.

If you want to minimize the frustration, limit the utensils, you sit next to your son and keep him focused on where his elbows are, and .... adjust the dinner ware to minimize the tapping irritation.

If your SO is not adult enough to figure out how to interface with your HFA son, find a better partner.


iris288's picture

Your partner ignoring you/ penalizing you because you stand up for your child is concerning and a terrible recipe for their relationship. 

Does he nitpick you? Not all abusive or controlling behavior is physical, speaking as someone who had a 2year emotionally abusive/gaslight-esque relationship. Has he ever gone to counseling? Sounds like his strict family has had a very resounding impact on him. 

Winterglow's picture

He needs to remember that you are the parent  not him and that he should give you the time to correct his behavior. Butting in does not help. 

Have you told him what your guests have said? 

weightedworld's picture

My ex husband was like that. He would get so frustrated at the table he would slap or slam his fist into the table. My kids dreaded meal time and getting them to the table was a hassle in a half. The kids were 2 and 3. When he was not home there was no issue at the table what so ever (he often time "traveled for work") the kids ate their meals, we could have as constructive of conversations as 2 and 3 year olds could have, and we would go about our night. The last time he did it, I lost it and through my fork at him and told him that would be the last time he acted like that at the table. I got up and tossed my plate in the sink. 

The best $10k I EVER spent in my life! 

BoyMomGirlStepMom's picture

I have to agree with the other responses. It's your place to discipline your child, not his. Certainly, he should have some say in the rules of the house, but all family members should feel safe and comfortable in the home. Please be careful how allowing your SO to treat your son will impact your relationship with your son.