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Man tells Mexican fiancee it's 'bad manners' to let kids eat tortillas without forks. UPDATED 3X.

Man tells Mexican fiancee it's 'bad manners' to let kids eat tortillas without forks. UPDATED 3X.


Learning table manners is an important part of growing up, but the definition of "manners" is a situational and cultural concept. To teach manners to your kids, you must first agree on what manners actually look like.

In a popular post on the AITA subreddit, a man asked if he was wrong for demanding his fiancee stop teaching their kids "bad manners." He wrote:

"AITA for demanding my fiancée stop teaching our kids bad manners?"

My fiancée “Lola” and I have been together for five years (engaged for a little over a year) and we have twins (boy and girl, 2.5). Our wedding is in two months. Lola usually takes care of feeding the kids in the morning since I work early, and so I never noticed this until recently. I took a week vacation from work to just spend time at home with my kids and Lola and started to notice something that bothered me.

Lola has been teaching our kids bad table manners and sees nothing wrong with it. I hadn’t noticed this before, as they don’t eat this type of food for lunch/dinner/snacks or eat it all the time so I guess I just missed it as I wasn’t home or she fed them other things on the weekends.

This morning I was helping Lola make breakfast and then I got the kids ready while she brought their food out for them. As they were getting ready to eat, I noticed they didn’t have forks/spoons so I told Lola I would get them and she said there was “no need”.

I watched instead and she gave the kids tortillas that she ripped into pieces and they were using their bare hands to grab the food using the pieces of the tortilla. I asked her what she was doing and that she should be giving them utensils but she seemed shocked that I was concerned and said that’s how they always eat it.

I told her that she was teaching them bad manners and making them think it was okay to just grab food with their hands. She told me they do that anyway when they have chips or grapes or tacos and pizza and listed a bunch of other snacks and fast food you eat without utensils but I pointed out that those things are usually made to be eaten quickly or on the road (like fast food) so utensils aren’t needed.

She said I was being offensive by calling her way of eating gross and saying it was having bad manners, but I do think it’s gross to see someone grabbing at food with their bare hands like that. She said she grew up eating like that and would always use tortillas to eat things like eggs or meat/rice/beans and that it wasn’t gross because she always made the kids wash their hands before they ate.

I ended up giving my kids forks for them to eat which they didn’t want to use, which made me even more frustrated with her because now they’re used to this. Lola has been really annoyed the rest of the day and wouldn’t let me help her with lunch, and earlier she was walking around the house speaking to someone (probably her sister) in spanish about me and i’m starting to feel a bit annoyed. AITA?

EDIT: Wow lots of replies quickly. They seem to be mixed so far but I will add in that the kids CAN use utensils and use them with foods like soups/pastas/etc, I just fear that allowing them to continue using their hands will make them used to it.

Redditors had a lot of comments and questions in response.

slide_into_my_BM wrote:

YTA - I’m guessing “Lola” is of Latin American descent? It’s very common in that culture to use a tortilla as the utensil just as it is in many other cultures to use bread or something as a utensil.

You’re being insensitive to her culture.

Puzzleheaded_Play390 wrote:

Love that the edit says the post is getting "mixed reactions" and yet every comment is "YTA".

rmcarlson wrote:

YTA. Next time you disagree about how she is raising the kids don't discuss it in front of them and then "correct" the behavior to your expectations. She's not a maid, she's their mother and primary caregiver and you should treat her with more respect. This behavior is common in many cultures and to call it bad manners is ignorance on your part.

ArcheryOnThursday wrote:

YTA. You have been with Lola all this time and don't know this basic thing about her culture of origin?? I'm White American and I know multiple cultures that do this...and I LOVE their cuisine.

A few days after getting thoroughly called out, OP jumped on with an update.

Hello (again). I’m hoping so follow all the rules so this doesn’t get deleted or anything but I wanted to post a quick update because I got a big fat reality check yesterday. I admit that at first I was annoyed and defensive that everyone was ganging up on me and saying I was r*cist/an absent parent/ etc..

However, surprisingly enough, it was the comments who were trying to defend me and somewhat agreeing with me that ended up changing my mind. At first I was mainly focusing on the 2-3 comments in my defense but as I read more of them I started to realize that they WERE sounding r*cist/disrespectful and then I realized the rest of you were right, and that is what I sounded like in my post.

There were a few comments saying something like “In America that is not normal” but we are not in America and hearing people say that to me while defending me was shocking to say the least. I don’t want to be one of those people who goes around telling people that they need to speak a certain language or do a certain thing because of where they happen to be.

I showed my wife the post and she saw a lot of your disrespectful comments agreeing with me calling her way of eating unhygienic and she said they sounded like me which made me realize I was an AH. For those asking if I had never seen my wife eat like that: no I hadn’t and I asked her why she never did even though she said I she grew up doing it.

She told me how a few months into our relationship I had made a comment about someone in a film being “poor and weird” for eating food with their hands. I do remember having said this and it is something that I should not have said. She said that is why she didn’t eat like that in front of me but she thought I wouldn’t mind if our kids did, as they are toddlers and toddlers regularly eat with their hands.

I am doing a lot of self reflection and have apologized deeply to my wife. She said she needs some time to think things through after seeing the post and my comments as well as everyone’s comments, which I fully respect. Thanks everyone for your insight.

Redditors were very receptive to OP's update.

InAHandbasket wrote:

I love that you recognized you didn’t like what you saw in the people agreeing with you. Sometimes that’s a real eye opener.

Megmca wrote:

As an American I think it is hilarious that being told, “we don’t eat like that in America” was one of the tipping points. It’s the same kind of bulls#$t reasoning we have for not switching to metric. I’m glad you came around.

NancyNuggets wrote:

I'm proud of you for being able to self reflect. It's okay to be ignorant on a topic as long as you are willing to listen when people explain things to you. Willful ignorance and arguing against being educated is where it becomes AH territory.

You sound like a good guy, who just had some unfortunate beliefs due to a lack of knowledge and I'm really happy to see you opening your mind, and allowing your wife the space to process.

Honestly, good for you. Your original post and comments had me steaming mad, not only because it was r#cist, but your reasoning made zero sense: "If my kids start eating tortillas with their hands, they might start to think it's OK to eat soup or pasta salad that way."

Kids aren't stupid. I taught mine how to use chopsticks, and miraculous, they don't try to cross their knife and fork to pick up their chicken drumsticks. But my glee right now outweighs how angry I was.

It only happens once in a blue moon, but sometimes the OP reads NTA comments and is like "Holy crap, I do NOT want to be associated with these people!" It's like the commenters' AHery backfires on them, and it's glorious. Now that you've had a wake-up call, I hope you'll take time to further deconstruct your feelings and perspectives.

For example, why was it so important for you to point out that your wife was white-passing? It really sounded like you thought that eating as people do in her own culture was beneath her, because she looks white and therefore should eat like a white person (whatever that means).

Are there other ways you could have been accidentally making her feel "less than"? These are questions we all need to ask ourselves whenever we find ourselves faced with a side of ourselves that suddenly doesn't look great. It helps us be better. So, good luck!

A year and a half after OP posted the original, he jumped on with another major update:

Hi everyone. I've been with my fiancee "Lola" for almost 7 years now and we've been engaged for 2 of those years. We have twins together (M&F, 3) and I thought we were happy.

About a year ago we had a small fight/disagreement about how she was raising our kids, but after receiving some feedback from Reddit, I was able to see that I was in the wrong and I was being incredibly offensive toward my wife (this was on a different account that I lost the info for, but everyone was very helpful so thanks again).

I apologized and she seemed to accept my apology, and I thought things were back to normal after all of that. She seemed to be her normal self again and we didn't argue/disagree about that topic anymore. In fact, we hadn't had even a minor disagreement for months after that. I thought we were happy.

Well, we were originally planning to get married last year (October of 2023) but she ended up changing her mind and saying she wanted to push back the wedding a bit. I was a bit confused and she wouldn't really elaborate on why, she just said it was stressful to plan a wedding with toddlers and she needed some time so I agreed.

Well, she just dropped a bomb on me out of nowhere a few days ago when she randomly stated that she doesn't think she wants to get married anymore. This was heartbreaking to hear, of course, and I asked that we sit and talk it out. She ended up telling me that she doesn't think we are compatible (after 7 years?) and that she thinks we should go our own ways and co-parent.

I'm devastated. I pressed for more information, like what made you realize this And why now? And she basically said that she felt like I didn't really "know" her and that I didn't want to know her. I thought this was ridiculous! I know everything about her! I know her favorite color, movie, and song, I know her favorite food, I can read her body language extremely well! I DO know her, we've been together for years!

She said a few more things and apparently, she's been thinking over our relationship since that fight happened a year ago. She said it was "eye-opening" for her, and that when I let her see the post and she looked through all the comments, she realized things about me that she had swept under the rug for years and blown off as one-time issues.

She went on a whole schpiel about all these things she had realized about me and how she didn't think we should be together anymore. I don't even know what she means. I think I zoned out for most of her rant because I was so blindsided and hurt by this that I was trying not to break down in tears.

I offered to go to couples counseling and individual counseling but she said it was too late and that I should have done that/offered that a year ago when this all blew up. I don't even know what to do now, and I think it's a bit unfair for her to put all of that on me.

Just because I didn't think of therapy after a minor disagreement A YEAR AGO I'm no longer someone she wants to marry? That's insane. I don't know what to do. How can I get her to give me another chance to see that I still love her and we can make this work? What can I say to make her change her mind? I'm so lost and I don't know what to do.

EDIT: I think it might be a good idea to link the original post with the details of our disagreement as some people are asking for the details and accusing me of avoiding the question so the post can be found here

EDIT: I feel that you all have given me a lot to think about and reflect on. Thank you. I will no longer be replying to comments.

Redditors had a lot to say about this massive update.

cryptokitty010 asked:

Did you ever ask her to tell you stories about her upbringing, her parents, her grandparents? Asked her how she felt about their roles in her life? Have you asked her what traditions she had growing up? Ask her to explain what made them special. Did you ask her what traditions she wants her children to experience as they grow up?

Did you make an effort to celebrate holidays with her and her family and participate in those traditions? Did you ask her about her religious beliefs and ask how you can best support her religious practices?

And OP responded:

When we first began dating I did notice that there were a few differences in the way we did things and holidays. The main thing I noticed was that she celebrated Christmas on Christmas Eve which was different for me since I always celebrated on the 25th.

I vaguely remember asking her why she did it on that day instead of the actual day and she just told me "that's when we celebrate it" but I stupidly just thought she meant that her and her family chose to celebrate that day for some reason and didn't really press it since it worked out fine: we could be with her family when they celebrated and with mine on the actual day.

And cryptokitty010 responded:

So in 7 years, the only thing you know about her cultural traditions is that they open presents on Christmas eve? And your reaction was that it's convenient to you because you get to have your holiday on the "actual" day.

And OP replied once more:

Well it sounds bad when you say it like that.

findthyself90 wrote:

My husband taught me how to eat soup and all sorts of stuff with tortilla which you make into a pocket. I do it too. Also it’s very normal to eat with your hands in many parts of the world. It seems like you aren’t interested in her culture. Did she not eat tortillas around you the 5 years leading up to this? Or teach you how she eats them so you could try it? It’s an odd hill to die on.

Machanidas wrote:

Info: Within that year did she also try to get you both into couples counseling or anything of that sort or was it on you to arrange that? Did she even suggest counseling and therapy as a way of moving forward? I think you're an idiot in a small way for not realising this stuff sooner and letting it fester for a year without doing anything on your part but it's time to move forward and sharpen up.

You have kids, reads like you're in the US. Get a lawyer and push very hard for custody iirc you're likely to win or at least settle for a decent arrangement jointly.

And OP responded:

She never mentioned it which is why I think I feel so blindsided. If she had brought it up and I had dismissed her then I think I would have a reason to understand why she wanted to call off the wedding, but based on the conversation we had, it seems like she wanted me to bring it up.

Like she was waiting for me to read her mind about what she wanted. But how am I supposed to know that if she never mentioned it? She never showed signs of being unhappy and just kept acting like her usual self. She never mentioned it which is why I think I feel so blindsided.

If she had brought it up and I had dismissed her then I think I would have a reason to understand why she wanted to call of the wedding, but based on the conversation we had, it seems like she wanted me to bring it up. Like she was waiting for me to read her mind about what she wanted.

But how am I supposed to know that if she never mentioned it? She never showed signs of being unhappy and just kept acting like her usual self.

redheadedsweetie wrote:

I'm guessing she's from a culture where they eat with their hands, and often use traditional breads to pick up and eat food, rather than utensils and you found this bad mannered and unhygienic?

Whilst yes you were culturally insensitive to your own wife, which yes it is bizarre you didn't know this about her and her culture, she also shouldn't have pretended things were fine for a year. However, has she really been fine for a year, or if you look back have you missed the signs of her being unhappy or out of sorts?

And OP responded:

Yes, she was teaching our kids to eat with their hands and tortillas instead of utensils for some foods. I didn't know this was a thing in her culture but when I found out I profusely apologized. She didn't seem unhappy, we just went about our regular lives and usual routines and nothing seemed out of the ordinary to me.

Haunting-blade responded to OP's comment:

So...hang on.

You realized that the comments had a point about that particular thing and apologised and stopped doing that....but there were also a whole bunch of comments that (correctly) guessed you do a lot of other racist shit too, and you never bothered to consider those or ask her about them or double check that if you were wrong on this, was there anything else you were wrong about?

This seems like a predictable outcome of you being convinced you're right and not admitting otherwise unless facts pertaining to that specific thing in particular are shoved under your nose.

I am not surprised she has called a halt. It sounds like all counseling would do would be to convince you that you f#$ked up on those incidents in particular and every time something new came up she'd have to start from scratch.

And OP responded yet again:

Well if I was doing other offensive things besides that she could have brought that up right? I mean we were having the conversation about me not knowing things about her culture so why wouldn't she have taken that time to mention anything else that I was doing that could have been bothering her?

How am I supposed to know I'm doing something wrong if I have no knowledge of that is wrong (regarding her culture)?

Terrible_Energy5055 responded:

Why do you think it’s not your responsibility to unlearn racism?

After receiving a lot of criticism, OP jumped on with yet another major update a week later.

Hi everyone. This will likely be the last post I make about this situation as everything seems to be final now. This one is made with my ex's permission and she will read over it beforehand, as she thinks I am an unreliable narrator. First of all, we have broken up. She gave me back the ring even though I said she didn't have to and she could pawn it and keep the money.

She didn't want to do that and gave it back to me. I think I will pawn it myself and give her the money since she has moved out of the house. She moved in with her brother and his partner, who was actually able to get her a job where he works and she is apparently starting next week.

We will split our time with the kids since she said she was able to get shifts that align with my schedule (I have a pretty flexible schedule but I just prefer to work the same days/times every week) so we will trade off the kids when each of us is at work and we are going to split the weekends.

We are going to get a custody agreement but we talked about it and agreed to 50/50 and we are both going to be cooperative as I don't want to stress her out and I do want to see my kids. I will also be brushing up on Mexican culture so that I am able to participate in things with my children and I am looking to take some Spanish classes as well so I can communicate with them in both languages.

I showed my wife the last post the day after I made it and she read it over and read all my comments and a lot of the other comments. She took like two days to do this. Afterward, she said she wanted to talk and asked me if I was serious when I claimed that I thought she wanted to break up because of the one fight about the food.

I said yes, because I was serious and did think that, and she said she couldn't believe me. I asked her to elaborate and she got very mad and asked me if I was really so oblivious to my own actions.

I realized that I probably have been oblivious to my own actions, and that I've been selfish and she kind blew up and said something and asked me if I "needed a #$cking list" so I could see all of the s#$t I've been doing.

I told her I would appreciate if she could communicate some of the issues, and there was no need for a list but she said that a list would probably lessen the chances of me losing focus while she went on a rant (ouch, but deserved). We ended up having a long talk about it and she wanted me to include this in the post, so I will add it below:

(Note that these are just things that happened since the fight about the food)

-When one of her nieces had a quinceanera, I kept calling it a sweet sixteen. She said she explained to me multiple times that they were different, had different meanings, differed cultural significance, and had different practices.

She said I still called it a sweet sixteen when I would talk to people about it or mention it. She said I also embarrassed her at the party because she felt that I was making fun of how her relatives were dancing.

-I (to this day) sometimes call her Spanish instead of Hispanic/Latina/Mexican. She said there is a big difference and me slipping up and forgetting is BS.

-When she was pregnant with the twins, I told her she could give them names that are pronounced in Spanish so that her non-English speaking family could say them easily and also since they are half Mexican. We agreed that she could, so long as I could choose which name was final.

She said that I have not held up my end of the deal, and that when we were at Christmas with her family in December, I "obsessively" corrected her family members when they pronounced our daughter's name "Eh-leh-na" (Elena) and kept saying it "Uh-lay-nuh". According to her, I did this more than 6 times that night and she stopped keeping count.

-I didn't 'let' her feed our kids some Mexican stew she had made because it looked spicy (I genuinely thought it was). She said she told me she hadn't used spicy peppers, but that night I fed them something else before the soup was done and she said I disrespected her and her parenting skills.

-She feels like she is not allowed to listen to her music/any Spanish music because I will complain or change the song. She said she can only listen to her music when I am not home, otherwise I will always change it within a few seconds.

She said there were other smaller examples but these are the bigger ones that she had already mentioned/brought up before and nothing had changed. When I asked her why she stayed with me for so long or why she didn't mention these things more, she said that she's always had low self-esteem.

She thought that I was a good person/partner other than these things so she always talked herself out of a break up, but she was just over it now. The things she listed off really opened my eyes and made me realize how selfish and unaware I've been, and I know that I need to change. I apologized to her and I know it won't change her mind but that's okay, I just want her to know that I do regret my actions.

I'm not going to ignore her or grey rock her like some people were suggesting, as I want to remain amicable for our children. I want us to have good communication, as I don't want our kids to grow up with parents who hate each other and can't have a simple conversation. Thank you to everyone who left comments, especially the ones who were harsh.

Suffice it to say, the internet had thoughts about the final update.

Proper_Juggernaut257 wrote:

This is the second time in 2 days I've seen someone saying "yeh we had an argument, but then she stopped bringing things up so I thought we were happy. This breakup came out of nowhere!"

People. If your partner has stopped trying to communicate with you, stopped trying to fix anything, that is NOT a sign things are fine. That is a sign they have given up on you and the relationship. I cannot believe how dense these people are.

daisiesanddaffodils wrote:

I don't mean to kick you while you're down, but did you really not realize you were doing all this? Did you really just forget that she had already told you what a quince is a dozen times? Did you really just forget that the whole point of choosing the names that you did was so her family could pronounce them in their language/accent?

Did you really think your wife would feed her children something she'd made too spicy for them to enjoy? Were you just on autopilot your whole life or something?

Frosty_and_Jazz wrote:

Sad that it took a breakup for you to recognise you were THIS ignorant, and to do the things you should have done at the beginning of the relationship.

I wish your ex all the very best!!!

LemoneSherbet wrote:

The quinceanera thing would have killed me if I was her. How could anyone confuse the two? Even if you knew dick all about any cultural context whatsoever, 16 and 15 are two different numbers. Why would you go around at a 15 year old's party insisting it was the 16th? It's so confusing in its ignorance.

Clearly, OP was TA in this, throughout all the updates of this situation.

Sources: Reddit
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