Upon cracking open the newspaper this morning, my eye immediately caught the article written by Portsmouth Herald food critic, Rachel Forrest, titled “Do Kids Belong In Restaurants?” (read the article here). My mama bear hackles are already on alert. Because I have two children who are 4 and almost 6 who, since birth, teeter on a 50% chance of behaving in a restaurant, I’m a *little* sensitive on the subject.
Although the article admits that there are some extremely well-mannered children out there, the majority of kids slump, fidget and require a box of crayons to get them through a restaurant meal. I’m paraphrasing, but a box of crayons, slumping and fidgeting is all it takes to annoy a fellow diner? When children need to sit in one spot for more than 15 minutes, yes, they are going to need a distraction. Whether it be food, a box of crayons or a puzzle from home, I call that good planning. Need we remind ourselves, they are kids after all, not miniature adults. And, although it’s purely reasonable to require our children to act with a certain level of decorum in public, we are setting ourselves up for failure, as parents and as a society, if we expect them to be able to carry on a 45 minute conversation while dining on haddock almondine and fresh tarragon beurre blanc.
Teaching my kids the appropriate way to behave in a restaurant is part of my job as a parent. It’s not always fun, but it remains a completely necessary social skill. It’s simply part of raising a generation of respectable citizens. Children who grow up unaccustomed to tailoring their behavior in public, while dining in a restaurant or otherwise, become ill-mannered teenagers and ill-mannered adults—and I’ve seen my fair share of adults in a restaurant who should have been taken outside for a timeout.
That being said, I always remove my children from a restaurant when their behavior crosses the line. I completely understand and respect another diner’s right to have an enjoyable evening out, and I certainly don’t want a member of my family to be the cause of a rotten meal. However, when you show up at a casual/family restaurant between the hours of 5:00-7:00pm, expect that there will be children there, and some of them may not be on their best behavior. My advice, try eating at 7:30.
Photo credit: Seacoastonline.com
What are your thoughts on the subject? Do kids belong in restaurants?