Metro-East Living

Men should open car doors for their mother first, then their wife

Q: My husband and I have begun to teach our young sons (ages 11 and 7) how to be young men. We’ve taught our daughters (ages 21, 32 and 34) to allow men to open and close their (car) doors, but recently I was perplexed when my 11 year old and I accompanied another mom and her 11 year old daughter to lunch. My son was respectful and opened my car door for me before running over to open their car doors. He also opened the restaurant door, but when we were all leaving and it came time to open the car doors, I wasn’t sure which he should open first — mine, (his mother) or theirs. I told him to open theirs since he would be leaving with me, but had that been his wife/date, would he open the door first for her, then his mother or his mother first and then his wife/date?

A: How fortunate all of your children are to have parents who are so very caring and conscientious to teach them proper manners. Having proper social manners is very, very important in today’s world. Having proper social manners may make the difference in getting a job, or not getting a job; getting promoted or not getting promoted; being successful or not being successful, being respected or not respected; having friends or not having friends.

Now, in reference to the wife/date scenario in your question: I am assuming, if I might, that if it were his wife/date, he would be driving and riding in the same car with either the wife/date. He, therefore, would open the car door for you first; allow you to get in, and then close the door. He would bid you a quick, but polite farewell and then open the car door for his wife/date. He would not leave until you have left with your car.

If he were riding with you in your car for some reason, instead of driving/riding with is wife/date, he would still open your car door first and close it because as his mother, you deserve that sign of respect. He would then excuse himself to open the car door for his wife/date and bid her a quick farewell. You and your son would not leave until his wife/date has left in her car.

Q: Should you continue to give gifts to children who do not even give you a verbal “thank you”?

A: Children learn to say “thank you” almost as soon as they learn to talk. There is no excuse for not making it a point to tell you thank you when receiving a gift from you. No, you “should” not feel obligated to continue to give gifts to these children.

Q: My girlfriend and I went out for dinner together recently for a girls’ night out. She could not eat all of her pasta dish and had it put in a doggy bag. My food portion was not as big, so I did not need a “to go” bag or box. When I dropped her off at her apartment, she asked me if I wanted her doggy bag. She said she didn’t think she would eat it. I thanked her and said, “no thank you.” While it was maybe nice of her to offer, I’m thinking that was not the proper thing for her to do. Afterall, it’s like eating food off of the same plate. Am I wrong?

A: You are very correct. It was definitely not proper of her to offer you her leftover food.

Dianne Isbell is a local contributing writer. Send your etiquette questions to Dianne Isbell at Belleville News-Democrat, P.O. Box 427, 120 S. Illinois St., Belleville, IL 62222-0427, or email them to