Absence of table manners turns dinner into disaster

DEAR ABBY: My 11-year-old niece, “Nina,” has no table manners. I didn’t say anything when Nina slathered clotted cream on her scone with her fingers, but I was disgusted. I did suggest she use a spoon after she scooped rice out of a communal bowl with her hand. Both of these incidents happened in restaurants.

Is there anything I can do when I must eat with this child? I know it may have been wrong of me to correct Nina in front of her mother, but we were all eating from the same bowl.

— Lost My Appetite in Houston

DEAR LOST YOUR APPETITE: By age 11, children should have mastered basic table manners. Is your niece learning-disabled? If the answer is no, you should discuss this with your sibling. Nina is at an age when she needs to know what’s expected of her when she’s out in public.

DEAR ABBY: My son came out of the closet last year. My first reaction was to tell him it was OK. I love him dearly and we’re a close family. My husband and I are now struggling because we’re not sure how God really views gays and lesbians. To listen to some religious people, my son will go to hell. I tried reading the Bible, but the wording was hard to understand. Do you believe a gay person will go to heaven?

— Somewhere in the U.S.A.

DEAR SOMEWHERE: I believe entrance to heaven is based upon a person’s character, not his or her sexual orientation. Today, we know more about homosexuality than was known when the Bible was written, and that sexual orientation is not a “choice.”