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Berkeley Parents Network > Advice > Teens, Preteens, & Young Adults > Etiquette & Manners for Teens
Our 19-year old son is a wonderful person in all ways except one: his eating habits. Even when we are guests at others' homes, he wolfs down large portions and keeps his complete focus only on his plate; he frequently takes very large second (and third) helpings; notwithstanding our repeated reminders, he ''helps'' his salad and other food onto the fork w/ his fingers -- in short, his eating habits are poor and embarrassing. Perhaps the failing is ours (altho our 17-yr- old daughter has none of these habits, so we must have done something right). We thought this might improve after a year of college but it hasn't. When we point something out to him at home, he makes light of it and we are reluctant to confront him directly about it in a general way for fear it will make him feel bad about himself and make him very self-conscious. We are by no means very formal people, but we don't want this to reflect badly on him (or us) as he starts to be in more adult situations in the future. We would welcome suggestions. Thanks. Perplexed
Your wolf-son is very hungry, so as long as he associates the dinner table with satiating his bottomless pit of hunger, he will neglect all other niceties like napkins, forks, conversation and actually tasting the food you spent time preparing.
So separate these two actions. This is how you do it. A couple of hours before the real meal, have him taken to a cheap dive all-you-can-eat locale to gorge himself. Let the animal overfeed. Yes, it's gross, but he'll probably love it.
Now for the real meal. Make it formal. Put out extra forks and spoons and stuff. Make it really complicated to eat. And then be *hypercritical* of his eating habits. Demand conversation. Talk about how each mouthful of wonderful food you've prepared (or had prepared) tastes. Gee - one guy I know loves to have sushi texture discussions with about 15 different types of tuna. Or different types of olives (there are about a gazillion). Cheese assortments are also good, plus any complicated fruit. Use weird utensils. Make it a competition!
Once he gets the message it's not about gorging, it's about social interaction, he'll start playing the game. And he'll be more popular in college - rare sushi dishes, unusual coffees and elaborate Chinese menus were a staple of my college years, and resulted in a couple of startups, so it is important. Lynne
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