My partner is very strict about table manners. My kids are constantly told to chew with their mouths shut. That's not usually a problem, but they are sometimes very eager to join in the conversation and don't finish chewing their food before speaking. I stopped making conversation to keep them from getting in trouble. Now dinnertime is always quiet and tense. My kids only want my partner's approval. How can I improve the situation?
Eating as a family should be a time of relaxed, warm, pleasant sharing among all
family members. Because of the punishing presence of your partner, dinnertime has turned into a time that your kids fear. Your kids are literally afraid to open their mouths! This woman has way too much
control in your family. As the mother of these children, I strongly recommend that you discuss this with your partner, explaining to her that you want family dinnertime to be a pleasant experience for everyone, especially your kids. If you need help in confronting her, I suggest seeing a therapist for advice and support. Some professional help might assist you in reclaiming your rights as a parent.
The atmosphere you describe at your family dinner table is an unhealthy one for your children to experience. My guess is that your partner's negative influence on your family's life extends far beyond her disturbing presence at the dinner table. Your kids need an advocate and that's your responsibility.