DEAR MISS MANNERS: My granddaughter is 7. She loses interest in her dinner, says she’s full. Her dad says, “four more bites.” She balks. He demands it again.
Sometimes he starts to count to a declared number. Then it teeters on to, “OK, then, no dessert.” Or whatever.
Sometimes it happens at my house, sometime theirs. My husband and I have great difficulty witnessing this. (We have overbearing parents in common.) We have baby-sat for years, and we don’t make problems at dinnertime, so we don’t have them. Is there a flippant response that I can at least say to myself while witnessing this pattern?
GENTLE READER: Reasonable people can disagree on the proper placement of the line between teaching discipline and making dinner unbearable. So can parenting consultants.
Much as Miss Manners appreciates you and your husband not making problems at dinnertime, she is not convinced that the only problem being created is by your granddaughter’s parents. Taking the word of a 7-year-old that she is full -- and will not be starving by bedtime -- seems to her to require a great leap of faith.
There are many flippant responses that you can say to yourself, but as manners deals in the realm of behavior, it cannot help you script them. It instead urges restraint, as your children are no doubt doing their best with their own children.