Ask Amy: My 9-year-old grandson has terrible table manners



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Dear Amy: I am facing a dilemma: My 9-year-old grandson needs to be taught some table manners!

He doesn’t use the napkin given to him, doesn’t know the correct way to use utensils, he licks his fingers, and if he likes a particular food, he cleans out the bowl.

I have never given my son and his wife advice on child-raising. I don’t think it is my place. I do think my son is a loving and dedicated father, who is touching most bases. But on this issue, Dad isn’t doing a very good job.

I know you’ve written in the past that grandparents should not intervene unless it is an issue of safety, but I think this child’s poor table manners will haunt him in adulthood.

Otherwise, he is a smart, kind, wonderful and curious boy.

— Concerned Grandmother

Concerned: There is a big difference between intervention and influence.

Grandparents have countless opportunities to be positive influences on their grandchildren, in part because of the quality of time and attention that grandparents devote to their grands.

Nine-year-old children are at an ideal age to learn new skills, and most children this age LOVE to learn to cook. The next time your grandson is with you (alone, not with his folks), introduce him to the kitchen. Make tortillas together and have a taco meal, or put together personal pizzas. Let him peel and slice a cucumber for the salad. Does he want brownies for dessert? He can follow directions on the box and make them himself. (For more ideas on recipes for kids, check FoodNetwork.com and/or watch “Chopped Jr.” together.)

While your meal is on the stove, show him how to set the table — show him which utensils go where. Can he guess where the water glass goes? Why does he think it goes in that spot? (So he can reach it with his right hand.)

My overall point is that your grandson will see that he has a stake in the meal, and in how it is eaten. While he is eating, you can praise his efforts and give him some more tips and occasional reminders. When his competence improves, notice and praise him.

Dear Amy: I have an issue with a neighbor and am wondering about the best way to approach it.

We have a small cottage on a lake in Upstate New York. Over the past decade, most of the homeowners in the area have stopped using lawn chemicals, over concerns about the effects of the chemicals on wildlife, as well as human and pet health.

Recently, a family moved in from out of state. They visit their cottage only occasionally. I have not met the family, as they live about a quarter-mile away, but I walk past their property regularly. I noticed that they have started having a company come regularly to apply chemicals to their lawn.

What is the best way to approach this family to tell them that the vast majority of people in our town don’t use lawn chemicals anymore? Should I leave a note on their door? Write them a letter to their home address? Stalk their property on weekends and talk to them in person?

I realize that under the law they are allowed to do what they want, but they are polluting the lake, which is a shared resource.

Susan: If you are a chemical or environmental engineer and have knowledge of the damage caused by the specific products used (and the impact on your water supply), then you could share your knowledge with these neighbors — with your name attached, in case anyone has questions.

Otherwise, the issue of restricting the lawful use of landscaping chemicals and fertilizers by property owners, dairy farmers and wineries (I know there are many in that part of the world) would be an issue to take to the town board, which might want to pass legislation about it — preventing other newcomers from doing what your neighbors are doing.

Dear Amy: “Allergic Employee” was a hospital worker who had extreme allergic reactions to the scents her co-workers chose to wear to work. Thank you for standing up for her.

I’d like to share my own experience, as a patient! I was already in a weakened state when a hospital worker’s cologne provoked my own extreme reaction — just by walking into my room.

Recovering: Medical personnel especially should understand the impact of their choices on the health of the people they are treating.

©2022 by Amy Dickinson. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency.