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How much can I expect of my 18 month old at the table?

Recently my husband lost his job; hence, we lost our home and car and moved in with his mother and step father. It is nice to have my husband get back onto his feet with a new career move and hopefully we'll have our own place within a couple of months (not soon enough!). But my anxiety is growing because I feel that my mother-in-law and her husband push their parenting tactics on my son too often, despite my calm oppositional comments. Most of these moves I don't really approve of and what irritates me the most are the boundaries they set for my 18 month old at the table. They expect him not to play with his food, not to throw any crumb of food on the floor, and give him guilt trips of the messes he makes while he explores textures and tastes. Please give me some realistic guidelines and pointers that we can all work on together to make eating more fun and less stressful for my little one and for me! Thank you.


Asked by Anonymous at 2:12 PM on Jan. 31, 2010 in Toddlers (1-2)

This question is closed.
Answers (8)
  • LOL!! I agree with all these moms and you, they are crazy! he's a baby, he can't even communicate properly? Do they expect him to keep up with current evens so that he also has good conversation to bring to the dinner table? I mean really. I try to make certain rules though with mine, shes 21 months. if she throws the food, she's done with it. I know she understands not throwing, so I can expect her to listen to that, but if they don't get it, if they can't respond to something, like "playing" with their food, u can't hold them "responsible" for being proper at teh table. My son is 11 years old, and I'm still reminding him of his table manners. It never ends lol

    Answer by Ifiwereabook at 7:26 PM on Jan. 31, 2010

  • hahah . . . all too funny. The in laws were over last night and FIL was making a big deal about my daughter making a mess while she was eating dinner. UMMMM #1--this our house #2--you're not going to clean it up #3--how else is she supposed to learn? #4--I put her in the middle of the kitchen so that she doesn't dirty up the carpet and #4--SHES MY KID! She is still learning how to eat and it is completely UNREASONABLE to expect an 18 month to not make a mess while eating. I feel sorry for you, because I WOULD LOSE IT if I had to live with my in-laws. I love them, but OH BOY. At Christmas, my daughter was doing something and our nephew told her NO. FIL says "Don't say NO to her, she doesn't like it!" I was like "WHAT? You have got to be kidding me?" Imagine raising a child that you never said no to and just let them do whatever they want..........ridiculous.

    Answer by BridgetC140 at 2:30 PM on Jan. 31, 2010

  • deja vu!!!! same exact thing happened to me. first off, in hind's sight i would say that it's an adjustment for everyone not just you. that was hard to remember, but my in-laws allowed us to live with them instead of being on the street. i would maybe attempt to start cleaning up my son's table manners but still let him be a kid. tell your in-laws that you'll clean up any "little kid" messes that he makes and maybe that would make her feel better. good luck!

    Answer by kidlover2 at 2:33 PM on Jan. 31, 2010

  • I would offer to have meals separate from them, as they are not comfortable with your parenting style.

    Answer by rkoloms at 3:17 PM on Jan. 31, 2010

  • I'd eat at a time without them. He's a little boy. They get messy. It's part of being a little child. My dad was like them when I visited and I just told him "I'll clean up his mess". He didn't push it or I would have left his house. Since you can't leave you might just tell them that you'd like meals with just your own family so everyone is comfortable.

    Answer by admckenzie at 3:17 PM on Jan. 31, 2010

  • At 18 months, you really can't expect perfect cotillion manners, simple as that. Maybe occasional use of utensils, and most of the food making it into him and not everywhere else.  I would just promise to clean up after him if he makes a mess and do what I could to minimize his explorations while they are eating; maybe feed him only the least messy foods with everyone else and feed him the other stuff before or after meals.  Inconvenient, but it may be your best option.  We have to clean up after our dd at my in-laws, which means half the kitchen floor since they can't be bothered to set up a high chair and they just put her in a walker while the family eats.  Their dog loves it; I don't.  At home we have a drop cloth under the chair to make clean up easier; dd is almost 14 months now, so there is still a lot of finger feeding.


    Answer by preacherskid at 5:45 PM on Jan. 31, 2010


    Answer by Ifiwereabook at 7:27 PM on Jan. 31, 2010

  • Thanks guys! It feels so good to finally talk to other moms who are patient, gentle and realistic with their little ones, i.e. on my side! I will try the drop "cloth" or towel, and for the most part, I do try to have my son eat with just me, but it is difficult with in-laws that are constantly wanting to be a part of his life in every aspect. They are extremely OCD and over project this onto my son. I also tell them at every meal "it's OK. He's doing fine. I will clean up after him." and I ever have my son help me with a lot of encouragement - I make it fun for him to help me pick up some of his mess on the floor. He does so well. My heart breaks everytime they interject with their jabs about how messy he is. UGH...I am hanging in there and lucky that I am patient and loving with my son. Many children are not lucky enough to have me as a mom. :) That is what keeps me going.
    Thanks again everyone!

    Answer by Anonymous at 12:46 PM on Feb. 2, 2010